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Singapore’s Environment Minister Co-Chairs Session on Differentiation at Informal Ministerial Consultations on Climate Change in Paris, 20-21 Jul 2015

July 23, 2015

Minister for the Environment Izabella Teixeira, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Ms. Christiana Figueres (Source: Dr. Balakrishnan’s Facebook Page)

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan attended the Informal Ministerial Consultations on climate change in Paris, France, from 20 to 21 Jul 2015. He co-facilitated a discussion on differentiation with Brazilian Minister for the Environment Izabella Teixeira.

The Informal Ministerial Consultations on climate change was hosted by France and Peru, and served as a preparatory meeting for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP) and 11th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) to be held in December 2015 in Paris.

The Informal Ministerial Consultations was intended at allowing Ministers from different regional groups in the climate negotiations to exchange views on a future climate agreement.

Minister Balakrishnan was accompanied by officials from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He will next be speaking at the ASEAN Power Shift 2015 on 25 July 2015.

On 4 July 2015, Singapore submitted it’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions of an emissions intensity reduction of 36% from 2005 levels by 2030. Singapore’s emissions intensity is projected to decline by 2.5% annually from 2021 to 2030, compared to 1.5% annually from 2005 to 2020.

Year Emissions Intensity (kgCO2e/S$GDP)
2005 0.176
2030 (expected) 0.113

The INDC also noted that Singapore is planning to stabilize emissions with aim of peaking around 2030. This is similar to two other INDCs from Mexico (“net emissions peak starting from 2026″) and China (“to achieve peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early”). Singapore also added that it would “continue to study the potential of international market mechanisms”. Singapore’s INDC includes an adaptation component (only 11 out of 20 INDCs submitted so far have adaptation components).

Singapore, a tiny island city-state, is pulling its weight in climate change diplomacy. Singapore has consistently been ahead of the game when it comes to participating at relevant multilateral platforms, including the UNFCCC. Following the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol being passed, Singapore was the 14th country to submit its instrument of acceptance of the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on 23 September 2014, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York.  As of today, only 38 countries have done so. A total of 144 instruments of acceptance are required for the entry into force of the amendment.

In December 2014, Singapore was the third country to submit its 3rd National Communication/1st Biennial Update Report. Developing country Parties are required to submit their first NC within three years of entering the Convention, and every four years thereafter. The Biennial Update Reports were due at the end of December 2014.

In the case of INDCs, Singapore is the 45th country to do so. As of 23 July 2015, only 20 submissions have been made, although notably the EU’s submission represents that of all 28 Member States.

Singapore has and will likely continue to play a facilitating role in the development of the new Paris Agreement expected to be agreed on in December in Paris. The new agreement is expected to commit all countries (not only developed countries, as in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol). We commend the Minister and the Singapore delegation for their hard work and look forward to good news later this year.

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Sources: MEWR, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan Facebook Page, UNFCCC INDC Submissions Portal

See also: Who’s who in the world of climate change diplomacy?

Goodbye Kyoto Protocol. Hello Paris!

July 20, 2015

A Greenpeace activist dressed in a polar bear costume demonstrates in front of Parliament Hill to call on Canada's minority Conservative government to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, in Ottawa January 29, 2007.  REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Many have heard of the Kyoto Protocol (KP), but did you know it is due to expire in 2020? So what happens next? That is the significance of the COP21 or the Paris negotiations due in December this year. The success of the negotiations largely resides around the idea that every country will submit their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs, which will serve as the foundation of the new agreement. So what is it?

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We begin with a little bit of history. The KP, agreed in 1997, was a great start to get developed countries to take on responsibilities of cleaning up the mess they have made as they developed themselves. But KP was to have two commitment periods with the first one ending in 2012. And the terms of second commitment period were meant for further discussions and to be agreed upon by 2009, giving governments 3 years to prepare themselves to ensure a smooth transition. Otherwise KP would essentially be dead in 2012.

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This is one of the reason why there were so much pressure put on the climate change negotiation in Copenhagen as the “be all, end all” event that will be the solution to our global warming problems. Nonetheless, it failed to achieve its goals in 2009, largely due to poor institutional framework, lack of national capacity, insufficient political commitments and unrealistic expectations. By the end of 2012, KP was barely salvaged by having the minimum number of countries’ weak commitments to ensure it goes into the second phase with some amendments.

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So, the KP is a done deal. The world managed to buy some sort of commitments until the year 2020. However, the world has changed significantly since 1992 when the climate change negotiations was given birth to at the Rio Summit. Countries grew, technologies advanced, connectivity enhanced, resources further depleted and interests continue to diverge; essentially we live in a totally different world, and that whatever were the conditions for negotiations back then, may not necessarily apply now. A child born then would now be 23 years old. Therefore, there is a need for a different approach in coming up with an agreement to tackle the climate issues at hands post 2020, when KP fully expires.
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While the Climate Change negotiations in 2009 has failed to achieve what it set out to do, in retrospect, the world have managed to learn quite a fair bit from it. For one, expecting heads of States to agree on a global deal, forged by some, in a forced top down manner without solid infrastructure support, not only produced a less than ideal outcome, but created an environment of mistrust. This not so distant bad after taste is what negotiators want to avoid. These existing tensions, concerns, dissent and mistrust have to be taken into consideration as nations continue to work towards a new global deal.

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Therefore, learning from the mistakes made in Copenhagen and in the interest manoeuvring around the pre-existing negotiation sensitivity, the concept of INDC was born.

INDC

Benefits, disadvantages, sentiments and what to expect from COP21 will be shared in the next article. So for now, Goodbye Kyoto Protocol and hello Paris!

Singapore Youth Team for the UNFCCC Climate Change Negotiations

July 5, 2015

cop21 logo Nations are working toward a new global climate change agreement later this year in Paris for post Kyoto Protocol. These negotiations offer governments a critical opportunity to craft a broad, balanced and durable agreement strengthening the international climate effort. The talks are taking place under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a treaty adopted in 1992 that includes virtually every nation on earth. They will conclude at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in December in Paris.

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And since 2008, ECO Singapore have been sending youth delegations to the Climate Change negotiations to ensure youth representation, especially that of Southeast Asia is aptly present. We provide guidance and mentoring of young Singaporeans towards these talks before, during and after. One of the important role these youth team does is to keep abreast of the climate change works in Singapore, the region and the world, and connect them with both the Singapore and regional audience.

Barcelona Climate Talks - UNFCCC meetingsMEWR NGO KennethTwo lovely ladies

We do so through active online blogging (such as this site) and conduct active sharing sessions so that other may benefit from what we do and be inspired to be more actively involved, both at the policy level and grassroots level.

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In view of the coming COP21 in Paris, we will build on the annual effort of sending a youth delegation. But instead of an annual pilgrimage to do everything, we want to create a platform, housed under our organisation where young people can come together and take action on influencing the climate negotiations. And we need you(th)!

AYCN 2009

Therefore, we are calling out for passionate young people (18 – 35) who are interested to learn more about the climate negotiations and also work towards supporting a youth team from Singapore to the climate change negotiations annually starting this year. You don’t have to be knowledgable, but you must have a heart for the environment and be willing to learn.

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If you are keen to be part of this initiative, as part of ECO Singapore’s Phase 2 development on youth involvement at international negotiations, please do fill up the form online at http://bit.ly/unfcccsg

CLOSING DATE: 10 AUGUST 2015

Should you have any further queries, do feel free to drop an email at unfccc@eco-singapore.org

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Some blast from the past (Click on picture to zoom):

cop20_logo_text_173 IMG_9275 From left to right: Melissa, Christl, Siang Yu, Zen, Ambassador Kwok, Wilson, Lastrina & Juliana

cop18_small Jamie in action jamie_mel jamie_group

cop16_logo_173 IMG_0541 IMG_4397

208px-COP15_Logo.svg ECO@COP Team COP15 with PM LEe

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blast from past prtscn

National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) – Singapore’s Submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

July 5, 2015

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Singapore has recently released its contribution on how it will do its part to combat climate change. In comparison to what was put forth in 2009, which was 11% emission cuts based on Business As Usual, to what is now a whopping 36% cut based on 2005 emission intensity by the 2030. And keeping it that way.

At the UNFCCC Climate negotiations that began in 2013, it was decided that there is a need to come up with a post 2020 plan to curb our emissions because of the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol. There, governments have also decided there was a need to make it a bottom up approach instead of a top down like what happened in 2009 at Copenhagen. With that in mind, governments have agreed to submit their own efforts that is due by October this year. Singapore’s submission makes it the first country to do so for ASEAN, which are expected to follow suit by the agreed deadline.

National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) – Singapore’s Submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change

June 5, 2015
by

A Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change will be launched today in Bonn, Germany, where countries are meeting to negotiate a new deal on climate change.
Starting today, the competition is accepting 3-minute video submissions from young people between the ages of 18 and 30 who are making a difference on climate change. 

Two winners will receive a round-trip to COP21 in Paris, covering the conference as youth video journalists. 
Speakers for the event include: Nick Nuttall, UNFCCC Spokesperson; Nick Turner, TVE Project Manager; YOUNGO representative; and Angelica Shamerina, UNDP- GEF Small Grants Programme. 

For further information, see http://www.tvebiomovies.org .

Youth Debate | Climate Diplomacy Day 2015

May 12, 2015

A visit to Tetra Pak’s recycling partners

April 6, 2015

Earlier last month on 18 March, Tetra Pak invited ECO Singapore to visit paper mills in Malaysia to view and understand the recycling process of their beverage cartons. Siang Yu and Zen were also joined by representatives from several schools, non-government organisations and waste collectors.

We visited one of Tetra Pak’s recycling partners, KPT Recycle SDN BHD, in Selangor, Malaysia. Did you know? Tetra Pak’s environmental ambitions are based on the principle of saving more than it costs. That is to say, they aim to minimise the impacts which their products have on the environment. 75 percent of the beverage carton is made of paper – a renewable source – and the remaining 25 percent is made of plastic and aluminium foil. As such, the beverage carton is 100% recyclable and not gone to waste as they are used as raw material for new products.

Tetra Pak beverage cartons (Source: http://www.tetrapak.com/MediaBank/TBA_crystal.jpg)

At the recycling plant, the head of operations explained the recycling process to us. The process begins with the beverage cartons being soaked in water in a large tank where they are spun and cut to separate the paper and the aluminium inner lining. After which, the recyclable paper goes into a heating chamber where it is pressed to produce rolls of new, multi-purpose paper. Here you can see a picture of Siang Yu and Zen standing in front of the final paper product:

As the aluminium is filtered out, it is crushed and dried before being packed and sent to a second recycling plant as it undergoes heat treatment to make aluminium foils for roofs. According to KPT, this aluminium foil is a superior alternative to zinc roof as it does not rust and is stronger than zinc roof, giving it a lifespan of 8 to 10 years.

A small piece of aluminium foil which can be used as roofing

15 to 18kg of aluminium is required to make a 3m x 1m sheet of aluminium foil. That’s approximately 5000 beverage cartons!

Tetra Pak have set up beverage carton collection locations all over Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand. Next year, collection sites will also be set up in Australia. The recycling plant receives 40 tonnes of beverage carton boxes per day.

Besides recycling beverage cartons, Tetra Pak also recycle carton boxes for packaging large appliances such as refrigerators (they are cut into sizes that customers want and reused), collect soy fibre and chrysanthemum fibre to make organic fertiliser, and they even have a charity shop where consumers can buy pre-loved clothing and other household items.

SOME REFLECTION:

It was interesting to see how the beverage cartons are taken apart and how the different materials are reused in the making of new products such as roofing and paper. It’s also commendable that Tetra Pak are constantly innovating and searching for new ways to reduce their environmental impact. Our guide told us that currently, they are looking into converting aluminium foil into pallets.

In Singapore, we are very familiar with the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Of the 3Rs, Reduce comes first, and that should be our first consideration as consumers. But when we are unable to reduce our consumption, we should strive to work on the other 2 Rs: Reuse and Recycle. And we are happy to see that Tetra Pak have made it easier for us to do just that!

A slightly blur group photo!

Besides, visiting Tetra Pak’s recycling partners, our visit was further enriched with visits to a mushroom farm, a brown rice factory and an organic farm. Stay tuned for our next post to find out about what we learned there!

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