A new $3-million initiative to revamp the Climate Change Exhibition at the Science Centre Singapore (SCS) was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. Sources say that the collaboration between the National Climate Change Secretariat, Science Center Singapore and the Meteorological Service Singapore will also reveal growth opportunities in the climate science and clean tech sector. The revamp of the five-year old exhibition will feature more Singapore information and examples to provide better context on how the Republic will be affected by climate change. It will also include fun and interactive displays for visitors to better understand the science behind the headlines. The new exhibition will comprise the following five sections:
- Climate Chaos: This section will provide an overview of climate change around the world, specifically the global changes and impacts caused by climate change to invoke visitors’ curiosity in the topic and allow them to relate those impacts back to their daily lives. It will zoom in on the impacts of climate change in Singapore.
- Weather and Climate: The weather and climate of Singapore and Southeast Asia will be introduced in a simulated weather monitoring and forecast office. The exhibit will highlight interesting features of the weather systems affecting Singapore and the fundamental scientific concepts behind them.
- Climate Causes: This section will focus on the causes of climate change, and explain what the greenhouse effect and carbon cycle is.
- Climate Action Plan: This section will showcase climate projections and their interpretations. It will also showcase global action to address climate change and highlight Singapore’s efforts to mitigate, adapt and create opportunities out of it. This zone will end with an area for visitors to contemplate and reflect on what climate change means to them.
- Green Climate Challenges: This zone will look into how individuals, groups and organisations can reduce their carbon footprint in creative and innovative ways.
It is hoped that through the newly revamped exhibition, visitors will be motivated to take pro-active steps to help combat climate change. As part of the exhibition revamp, climate change-related outreach and enrichment programmes will also be rolled out after the exhibition is re-launched, to complement the school curriculum and provide students with hands-on and inspiring learning experiences. These could take the form of learning journeys, capacity-building workshops and enrichment talks.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw began today with calls for governments to harness the strong groundswell of action on climate change across all levels of government, business and society and make real progress here towards a successful, global climate change agreement in 2015.
After Qatar’s Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah,left, President of previous COP18 ( Conference of Parties) addresses delegates during the opening session (seen above), the newly elected President of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19/CMP 9), H. E. Mr. Marcin Korolec, Poland’s Environment Minister, said in his opening address that climate change is a global problem that must be turned further into a global opportunity.
“It’s a problem if we can’t coordinate our actions. It becomes opportunity where we can act together. One country or even a group cannot make a difference. But acting together, united as we are here, we can do it,” he said.
In her opening speech at the Warsaw National Stadium, the venue of COP 19, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called on delegates to “win the Warsaw opportunity” in order to safeguard present and future generations.
“We must stay focused, exert maximum effort for the full time and produce a positive result, because what happens in this stadium is not a game. There are not two sides, but the whole of humanity. There are no winners and losers, we all either win or lose in the future we make for ourselves.”
Ms. Figueres pointed to the sobering realities of climate change and the rise in extreme events that climate science has long predicted, including the devastating Typhoon Haiyan that just hit the Philippines, one of the most powerful typhoons ever to make landfall.
Ms. Figueres highlighted the key areas in which COP 19 can make progress:
“We must clarify finance that enables the entire world to move towards low-carbon development. We must launch the construction of a mechanism that helps vulnerable populations to respond to the unanticipated effects of climate change. We must deliver an effective path to pre-2020 ambition, and develop further clarity for elements of the new agreement that will shape the post-2020 global climate, economic and development agendas”.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan is the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. He has been a Member of Parliament since 2001. He previously held appointments as the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Minister responsible for Entrepreneurship, Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts and Minister of State for National Development.
Significant changes in rainfall patterns and increased rising of sea levels by the year 2100 were among the findings of a global climate science study.
The findings were released by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Stockholm on Friday.
The Singapore government said it will contextualise the global findings and study their impact on the country so that resilience plans can continue to be reviewed and adjusted.
The changes revealed in the findings suggest that Singapore could see more intense and frequent bouts of heavy rainfall as a result.
In Singapore, the number of days each year with heavy rainfall of more than 70mm in an hour has already shown a spike.
It rose from five days in 1980 to 10 days in 2012.
The annual maximum rainfall intensity in an hour also increases from 80mm in 1980 to 107mm in 2012.
The findings also imply that increased temperatures, which Singapore experiences only occasionally now, could become the norm in the future.
Aggressive climate change could affect how Singaporeans carry out their daily activities and the way future infrastructure is planned.
The findings from the international study will be used to provide updated projections of aspects like temperature, rainfall and sea level changes in Singapore’s second National Climate Change study.
This means the relevant government agencies will be well-prepared to cope with the impact of such changes in the future.
The second study started in November 2012.
The Centre for Climate Research Singapore will work with the UK Met Office to project climate parameters in greater detail to help the government better understand the local impact of climate change.
Dr Chris Gordon, director of the Centre for Climate Research Singapore at the Meteorological Service Singapore, said: “Heavy rainfall on the extreme end leads to flooding. This is the main impact of concern and so those projections need to be taken into account in terms of such things as the drainage infrastructure…
“These are already being taken into account in Singapore in the planning that’s going on. But these updated projections will feed into that process to ensure it’s robust against those future changes.”
Separately, the second phase of the first National Climate Change study concluded this year.
This phase looked into the impact of climate change on issues such as public health, biodiversity, the energy consumption of buildings and urban temperature profile.
The findings have been disseminated to the relevant agencies to use in their resilience plans, which include enhancing the stability and connectivity of existing green areas and putting in place plans to better understand the effects of urbanisation together with climate change.
On 18 September 2013, John W. Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda took the gavel as the President of the 68th session of the General Assembly, the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 193 Member States of the Organization, it provides the only forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter.
Following his election as Assembly President on 14 June, Mr. Ashe and his team outlined their priorities for the session under a theme entitled, “The Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage!.” Under it, he is encouraging Member States and other stakeholders to promote dialogue, reflection and commitment to the formulation of an effective new agenda to overcome poverty and insecurity and ensure sustainable development, to be launched during the 69th session following the 2015 deadline of the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Prior to his assumption of the Assembly Presidency, Mr. Ashe served simultaneously as his country’s Permanent Representative to both the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, positions he held since 2004. He has served in a leadership capacity on many of the governing bodies of the major UN environmental agreements, including as the first Chairman of the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He holds a Doctorate in Bioengineering.
The UN News Centre spoke to Mr. Ashe on the eve of the General Assembly’s annual general debate, when Heads of State and Government and other high-level officials gather to present their views about pressing world and national issues.
UN News Centre: Mr. Ashe, you’ve spoken extensively of your priorities and aspirations for the 68th session of the General Assembly. Now that you’ve actually taken the gavel and are about to host some 90 heads of State and Government and many other world officials, has your perspective changed?
John Ashe: Well, if it has changed it has been brought more sharply into focus, now that the day is actually here. We do hope that when the heads of State and Government are here, that they will indeed address the theme that I have identified.
UN News Centre: Yes, you have put a lot of effort into creating the focus for this session, “Setting the Stage,” for the post-2015 development agenda. How do you see your role in keeping that focus? To inspire, seek consensus, guide? Because the focus can wander.
John Ashe: Well, as it ought to, given that we have other pressing concerns. But the short answer to that is that one has to be a mixture of all three – you have to inspire, you have to seek consensus and, of course, you have to make accommodations for the vagaries of the position.
UN News Centre: Has your office communicated with world leaders coming to the general debate to encourage them to address this theme?
John Ashe: Well, at the end of the day you’re dealing with sovereign countries and their respective heads of State and Government. So it’s impossible to dictate what they should speak about. The usual way of communicating is with their representatives here in New York. And the short answer to that is, yes I have done so. But ultimately, a head of State and Government has 15 minutes of fame and I’m sure they intend to fully use those 15 minutes to speak on virtually anything they so choose.
UN News Centre: Have you gotten feedback on willingness to take up the theme?
John Ashe: Well, as I said you’re dealing with sovereign countries, so it’s not a give and take. But let’s just say that from the representative level here in New York, the response has been positive.
UN News Centre: How would you describe the function of the general debate in accomplishing the priorities of the entire session?
John Ashe: Well, this is an opportunity to hear from the highest levels of Government on how they see the post-2015 development agenda emerging. So, it’s an important time frame for us to get, as we would say, in my days as a Permanent Representative, guidance from our heads. So that’s why it becomes important. So one can not overemphasize that importance and the need to hear from the heads of State and Government themselves, on how they see the post-2015 development agenda emerging.
UN News Centre: Since Rio+20 (2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development), there’s been a lot of input on the post-2015 agenda, we’ve had global consultations, conferences in such bodies as the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and other activities. Do you see any consensus building at this point?
John Ashe: Well, I don’t think that the intent is to arrive at consensus at the outset. The intent, I hope, is to identify a common set of parameters on which everyone can agree ought to be included in any agenda, and then working to shape them in a way that people can ultimately find consensus.
UN News Centre: Do you see any elements at all that seem to be common to all the input that we’ve had so far?
John Ashe: Well, there are different strands of work that are ongoing. Two, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, have to do with the sustainable development goals – that would be a very important exercise – and currently, we just started discussions at the intergovernmental level on financing, or what is generally known as the means of implementation, which is also an important plank going forward. The outputs of these exercises will come to the General Assembly at the start of the 69th session and that would be an important time period, I think, to start pulling everything together.
UN News Centre: Do you see an interest in integrating the resulting targets into a more comprehensive approach in response to criticisms of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that they were kept too separate?
John Ashe: Well, I must admit I hadn’t heard – I’ve heard other complaints but not that specific one – but more importantly, I think what we have now put in place is substantially different from what was put in place for the Millennium Development Goals. There the approach was more top down. Here, they’re trying to have a more bottom up approach. So you have many bosses, some of course not in agreement, but what one hopes is that there will be a core set of goals identified at the end of the period that we can all agree on, and it can make up for the perceived shortcomings of the Millennium Development Goals.
UN News Centre: How would you like to see the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council develop under your session?
John Ashe: Well, I hope it will be a cordial and collegiate one. Of course, there are differences between the two bodies. One has a certain cachet, so to speak, and the other is a more deliberative type of body. At the end of the day, they have their separate responsibilities and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.
UN News Centre: On Syria, in particular, has any consensus developed on how it can be addressed in the General Assembly?
John Ashe: Well, as you know, the matter of Syria, at least currently, is being dealt with by the Security Council, where rightfully it does belong, because you’re talking ultimately about action under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. That’s solely within the purview of the Security Council. If and when the matter comes before the General Assembly, then I’m sure we will deal with it accordingly.
UN News Centre: Do you think there is any kind of Security Council reform that could make the relationship with the Assembly more effective?
John Ashe: On the overall question of Security Council reform, there is no shortage of ideas. There are quite a few. Where the difficulty lies is in getting Member States to agree on a core set of ideas, and that’s what I’m hoping to turn my attention to this session.
UN News Centre: You’ve spoken before of your turn from medicine to diplomacy as a career interest, because you thought you could help people with survival and well-being just as effectively. Will this mean that you’ll have a focus on the well-being of individuals and communities during the session?
John Ashe: Well, that has always been a goal of mine and perhaps that is why I drifted into sustainable development as a core area, given the potential to do something that would benefit future generations. I don’t think that that will change during my tenure as President of the General Assembly.
This media release was originally published by the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Singapore on 25 September 2013.
14th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution
25 September 2013, Surabaya, Indonesia
1. Ministers responsible for the environment from ASEAN Member States (AMS) held their 14th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution on 25 September 2013 in Surabaya, Indonesia. The Ministers reviewed regional cooperation on a number of environmental issues, in particular the related actions in the environmental sustainability section of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint, and discussed new initiatives to further promote regional environmental cooperation.
2. The Ministers reviewed national, sub-regional and regional activities to address land and forest fires in the region and its associated transboundary haze pollution. The Ministers welcomed the significant progress in the implementation of the Work Programme of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, including concrete on-the-ground activities; the progress in the development of the ASEAN-wide Fire Danger Rating System; implementation of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (2006-2020) and the implementation of the Strategic Review on Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution programmes. The Ministers adopted the updated ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (2006-2020).
3. The Ministers noted that in the northern ASEAN region, the prevailing rainy season is expected to keep hotspot activities subdued until the onset of the traditional dry season in December 2013. For the southern ASEAN region, the prevailing dry season is expected to continue till early October 2013. An increase in hotspot activities leading to the occurrence of transboundary smoke haze may still be expected during extended periods of dry weather conditions. The ASEAN Member States pledged to remain vigilant and continuously monitor and implement haze preventive activities.
4. The Ministers agreed to recommend to the ASEAN Leaders to adopt the HMS as a joint haze monitoring system among MSC countries, with digitized land use maps and concession maps of fire-prone areas that cause transboundary haze to be shared on a Government-to-Government basis. The Ministers agreed to take prompt action based on the decision of the ASEAN Leaders at the 23rd ASEAN Summit in October 2013.
5. The Ministers agreed to set up a Task Force comprising of Panel of Experts on Fire and Haze Assessment and Coordination to review the existing alert levels and formulate trigger points.
6. The Ministers noted that several ASEAN Member States have contributed to the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Pollution Control Fund towards realising the pledge of providing an initial seed contribution of US$500,000 for the Fund. The Ministers welcomed contributions from other partners to the Fund.
7. The Ministers noted the significant progress and achievements of the two projects on Rehabilitation and Sustainable Use of Peatland Forests in Southeast Asia (funded by Global Environment Facility) and the SEApeat Project (funded by European Union) which will conclude in 2014. The Ministers supported the Programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystem in ASEAN for the period 2014 to 2020 based on the lessons learned from these two projects in order to achieve the goals and objectives of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy by the year 2020. The Ministers also supported the development of a similar longer term programmatic approach to address fires in the Mekong region which mostly originates from agricultural activities and forest areas.
8. The Ministers adopted the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan (AEEAP) 2014-2018 as the successor plan to the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan (AEEAP) 2008-2012, to serve as a guiding document to continue promoting sustainable development through environmental education and public participation. The Ministers expressed satisfaction on the successful implementation of the AEEAP 2008-2012.
9. The Ministers noted the publication of the ASEAN Guidelines on Eco-schools to serve as reference for promoting coordinated development and establishment of eco-schools in ASEAN Member States.
10. The Ministers approved the nomination of Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines as the 33rd ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP). The AHP Programme serves as a regional network of national protected areas of high conservation importance preserving a complete spectrum of representative ecosystem to generate greater awareness, pride, appreciation, enjoyment, and conservation of ASEAN’s rich natural heritage. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in Los Baños, Philippines serves as the Secretariat of the AHP Programme.
11. The Ministers noted with appreciation the ratification of the Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) by the Government of Thailand on 19 February 2013 and the Government of Malaysia on 29 April 2013. The Agreement entered into force on 23 July 2009, following the deposit of the sixth instrument of ratification by Myanmar to the ASEAN Secretariat.
12. The Ministers agreed that the 3rd ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City (ESC) Award and 2nd Certificate of Recognition Presentation Ceremony be held back-to-back with the 15th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment (IAMME) in 2014 in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The Award aims to promote environmentally sustainable cities in ASEAN by recognising exemplary efforts and sharing best indigenous practices to keep cities clean, green, and liveable.
13. The Ministers expressed appreciation to the Government of Viet Nam for successfully hosting the 4th High Level Seminar on Environmentally Sustainable Cities on 21-22 March 2013 in Hanoi, Viet Nam, with support from the Government of Japan, Australia and the ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities. The event promotes information exchange and foster concrete collaborative actions on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC), an immediate priority area for regional collaboration among East Asia Summit (EAS) participating countries identified at the Inaugural East Asia Summit Environment Ministers Meeting (EAS EMM) in 2008.
14. The Ministers adopted the ASEAN Joint Statement on Sustainable Consumption and Production to express their commitment to strengthen cooperation within ASEAN and with ASEAN Dialogue Partners, relevant UN Agencies and other international partners on the implementation of the 10-Year Framework of Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP). The Ministers also encouraged relevant stakeholders in ASEAN, including private sector and civil society, to enhance their contribution to sustainable development by continuously building its capacities, implementing best practices for Sustainable Consumption and Production, and promoting exemplary regional cooperation of the 10YFP activities, including through relevant ASEAN Bodies.
15. The Ministers will meet their counterparts from the People’s Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea at the 12th ASEAN Plus Three Environment Ministers Meeting on 26 September 2013 to exchange views on global environmental issues, and to discuss activities on areas such as biodiversity, climate change, environmental education, environmental science and technology, and environmentally sustainable cities.
16. The Ministers responsible for the environment will meet again in Lao PDR in 2014 on the occasion of the 15th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.
Article written by Maxine Newlands for The Ecologist.
In the first few days of his Premiership Tony Abbott announced the eradication of key environmental policies. Abbott wants to repeal both the carbon and mining taxes, abolish key green government bodies, and increase industrialisation along the Great Barrier Reef. UNESCO World Heritage committee have already warned the Australian government that further coal port expansion could put the Reef on the ‘in danger’ list.
Environmentalists are outraged at Abbott’s plans to tackle climate change. Australian Greens environment spokesperson, Larissa Water says, “Less than a week into the top job, Tony Abbott has confirmed he is an absolute environmental vandal. Mr Abbott’s plans to rip up the carbon price, mining tax, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Climate Commission and the Climate Change Authority, show he is a climate criminal”.
Carbon tax has been a political stick to beat each side of the climate change debate, set up by the Gillard government as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, Kevin Rudd had already planned to scrap the carbon tax, and bring in an Emissions Trading Scheme next year. Abbott has taken Rudd’s promise one step further, shifting away from taxes as a solution to climate change.
The mining tax or ‘resource super profits tax’ (RSPT), is a tax on any profit made by mining companies that is above 6% of their capital investment, in addition to corporate tax. Abbott’s government claim scrapping the mining tax will mean workers will be an extra £270 ($450 Aud) a year better off.
Abbott has stuck by his other pre-election pledges to shut down the Climate Commission along with a range of other climate-change related institutions, and cancel plans for a Clean Energy Future Act (2015). The Commission established just less than three years ago, (Feb 2011) was set up to inform the Australian public on the science of climate change, international actions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the economics of carbon trading.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific Programme Director, Ben Pearson says “Australia’s new government is abolishing key institutions like the Climate Change Authority, overturning critical policies to reduce emissions like the carbon price and working with the Queensland Government to open up massive new coal deposits like the Galilee Basin”. The abolition of key climate change policies is as good as “a health policy that involves closing all hospitals” adds Pearson.
North Queensland Conservation Council spokesperson, Wendy Tubman thinks Abbott’s changes show a “fundamental shift in the way the government sets Australia’s interaction with the environment. No longer will it be the framework within which our society and economy work. It will now become a resource to be exploited in order to increase the monetary income of industry”.
A move that seems plausible as the Department of Environment, – responsible for Australia’s participation in international climate change negotiations will now be overseen by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Australian environmental groups are equally concerned about Abbott’s plans for the Great Barrier Reef.Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s Ben Pearson says “In his first 100 days Greg Hunt will make a number of decisions that will demonstrate whether he is serious about protecting the magnificent Great Barrier Reef, and addressing climate change by not allowing our massive coal export industry to expand even more. It is critical to his credibility that he rejects these reef and climate destroying projects“.
New Environment Minister Greg Hunt is tasked with the policy changes and placating the mining industry. Hunt’s first big job will be to decide whether to approve the expansion of the Abbott Point Port and whether to approve to massive new coal mines in the Galilee Basin that will increase shipping the length of the Great Barrier Reef.
If Hunt approves the expansion at Abbott’s Point Port it will become one the largest coal ports in the world, backing-up environmentalists long held the belief the Australian government is in the back pocket of the mining industry.
Senator Waters says “Abbott has promised his big business buddies that he will devolve national approval powers for developments that impact on matters of national environmental significance to state governments. That would leave approving developments that impact the Great Barrier Reef up to [Queensland] Premier Campbell Newman, who when asked about the reef declared ‘we’re in the coal business’.”
Environmentalists will fight hard to stop the Abbott governments ‘anti-environment’ plan. “The Greens won’t stand by and let Mr Abbott rip up our progress on climate action and give the big mining companies open slather on the Great Barrier Reef. Australians love the Great Barrier Reef and we know we have a responsibility to the rest of the world to act on climate change” says Senator Waters.
Maxine Newlands is a freelance journalist and academic researching environmental politics and the media. She currently resides in Australia.