Singapore’s Moral Responsibility in the Face of Global Climate Change

Dear Editor,

I refer to the articles “Singapore rejects emission cuts” (Straits Times, 30th October 2009) and “Singapore to cut emissions if other countries do their bit” (31st October 2009).

As a Singaporean, I am greatly disappointed by our lack of commitment to an emissions cut. Where in other areas, Singapore has declared our ambitions to be a global leader, in the face of the looming disaster of climate change, we have decided to follow instead.

While it may be true that our country’s emissions are but a tiny fraction of the world’s, Singapore’s wealth and success has been an example to the developing world. When Singapore could have sent a stronger signal to other major carbon polluters that economic progress need not always place the environment in the backseat, we sing to the same tune of China and India, the world’s fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases, that “we cannot compromise our ability to grow”.

As Associate Professor Natasha Hamilton-Hart has written in the magazine “Innovation”:

“Stubbornly presenting itself as a developing country robs Singapore of any credibility in international negotiations, and prevents it playing a constructive role. With its wealth of lobbying expertise and diplomatic clout, Singapore could make a positive difference, but not if insists on special pleading to avoid cuts itself.”

I beseech our country’s leaders not to allow ourselves to be the black sheep for the developing world, but to be a golden beacon instead. “Fair”, as mentioned several times by both the Prime Minister and the Environment Minister, should involve reflecting on our per capita emission rate.

P.S. And I quote the President of the Maldives during his speech at the UN Summit on Climate Change:

“Once the rhetoric has settled and the delegates have drifted away, the sympathy fades, the indignation cools and the world carries on as before,” Nasheed said.

“A few months later, we come back and repeat the charade.”

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