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Singapore to review its climate change target as world leaders agree COP26 deal

03:09 Min
The Singapore Government will go back and review its climate change target after top-level talks concluded late on Saturday (Nov 13) at COP26. Melissa Goh with the report. 

GLASGOW: The Singapore Government will go back and review its climate change target after top level talks concluded late on Saturday (Nov 13) at COP26.

The Glasgow Climate Pact was finally agreed to after negotiations stretched more than 24 hours past the deadline in Glasgow. 

For the first time, world parties agreed to reduce the burning of coal, and also promised to more urgently cut carbon emissions and provide more money to developing countries to adapt to climate change impacts.

Singapore agreed to the final text, which Minister for Sustainability and Environment Grace Fu said helped keep alive the ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. 

"This has been a most productive conference as it has demonstrated the weight of momentum for global climate action. It’s a very big win for the multilateral approach in addressing climate change," Ms Fu told reporters in Glasgow.

"This COP really has seen great momentum all round. We have made progress in all areas. 

"Not everyone is happy on all counts but we hope that everyone will see this as an important first step to operationalise the Paris Agreement rulebook that we have agreed on and use that as a foundation to further work to be done at subsequent COPs."

Part of the pact requests parties return to next year’s COP, to be held in Egypt, with even more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which are national roadmaps explaining how each country plans to reach net zero.

A work programme has also been set up for countries to increase ambition by 2030, which is seen as crucial to slow down the overheating of the planet. 

While acknowledging that she had been questioned by activists, NGOs and some ministers about Singapore’s overall climate goals, Ms Fu said Singapore would now review its targets. 

In its latest NDC, released in 2020, Singapore stated an aim of “achieving net zero emissions as soon as viable in the second half of the century”.

“We will go back and look at what we need to do, look at our responsibilities and review our position. We will review the NDC seriously. This whole package requires us as a party to take them seriously,” she said.

Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis that monitors countries’ climate goals still rates Singapore’s climate policies as “critically insufficient” and “not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement”. 

In September, the National Climate Change Secretariat said the Climate Action Tracker report may not have fully accounted for the unique challenges Singapore faced. 

In a speech earlier during the conference, Ms Fu had explained that Singapore was not afraid to take bold action, despite its limitations being a small island nation with limited potential to develop renewable energy infrastructure. 

“There is some obligation as a party under this COP agreement to do our part,” she said, during the media briefing on Saturday.

“I think there must be an appreciation in Singapore about the impact of climate change, and we must convince, encourage Singaporeans to also take collective action.” 

Parties established a work programme to define the global goal on adaptation and promised to at least double finance for adaptation. This was of particular concern to many poorer and vulnerable nations already counting the costs of climate change onset. 

Ms Fu said that she sympathised with the position of small island nations on such issues. Many of their representatives gave emotional pleas at the informal plenary sessions ahead of the final text agreement. 
“We think more needs to be done to address the concerns of small island states, particularly with adaptation and loss and damages

“We’ve heard their plight, we have a lot of sympathy for their position and would like to support them as much as possible.

“Many of the parties have voiced their reservations, their suggestions and their areas where they are uncomfortable. But many of them have said they are prepared to live with the package,” she added.

The US$100 billion of annual financing that was meant to be mobilised by developed nations for developing nations has yet to materialise. But US$500 billion should be provided by 2025, according to Alok Sharma, the UK’s COP26 president.

Ms Fu, was intimately involved in talks around Article 6, one of the most complex and contested parts of the Paris Agreement, agreed upon in 2015.

Her work facilitating ministerial consultations has now helped to finalise the rules on how countries can reduce their carbon emissions using international carbon markets. It was an issue she likened to a “spaghetti bowl” due to the multiple strands intertwined within the article.

“It’s one of those perennial issues that’s complicated. And the reason it’s complicated is because it has strands coming from ambition, finance, share of proceeds and also transparency. 

“If you are using the carbon market, there is a fear that it will actually dilute ambition if you don't use it properly, because there’s greenwashing, there’s double counting,” she said.

Throughout COP26, Singapore has signed up to several partnership coalitions: The Powering Past Coal Alliance, the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement, the Global Methane Pledge, the Greening Government Initiative (GGI) and the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C).

The country also agreed to join the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use on Friday. 

Source: CNA/rw