Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the Go Green SG Launch on 30 June 2023.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Students of Mee Toh School,
Good morning and I am happy to join all of you today at the launch of Go Green SG.
Going Green has been a priority for Singapore since we became independent. As many of you know, our founding PM Mr Lee Kuan Yew was determined to make Singapore a green city, long before it was fashionable to be green. And that’s why we have many lush green spaces and sustainable waterways that all of us enjoy. But we know that we cannot afford to be complacent or rest on our laurels. Because with the challenge of climate change and global warming, we can and must do more.
Recently, the UN published a report that world temperatures are likely to surge to record levels in the next five years. Here in Singapore, we are already experiencing the effects. Just two months ago in May, we recorded the highest temperature in Singapore in 40 years, a high 37°C. If global warming continues, we are definitely going to see temperatures rising in Singapore too. But apart from having to cope with higher temperatures, we will experience more erratic weather – more intense rainfall, as well as more droughts. This will affect not just our water supply, but also our food supplies from our neighbours. And in the longer term, if global warming continues, we will see sea levels rising and this will have an impact on Singapore because we are vulnerable as a little island with many low-lying areas.
Singapore alone cannot tackle the climate challenge. That’s why we are working closely across various international platforms and with like-minded countries. But at the same time, we must do our part within our island to lead by example, and to reduce our own emissions.
That’s why we had launched the Singapore Green Plan two years ago. Under the plan, we will make Singapore greener and more sustainable in many more ways: We are greening our transport and energy sources. We are continuing to green our city – not just by planting more trees and creating more parks, but also by making our buildings and homes more eco-friendly. And we are helping businesses to take advantage of exciting new opportunities in the green economy.
To fully realise this green future, we will also need everyone to make lifestyle adjustments and adopt more sustainable habits. Whether it is by taking more public transport, reducing our energy consumption at home, or making a bigger effort to recycle, all of these actions can have a meaningful impact on our environment .
So our stakeholders, be it community groups or businesses, can all help in this collective endeavour to promote sustainable living and more eco-friendly practices. And I’m glad that many of you are already starting to lead by example. For example, DBS has introduced a Sustainability Sparks initiative to help raise awareness of sustainability issues and develop good habits amongst primary school students. Divert for 2nd Life, a community group, works with businesses like restaurants and supermarkets to channel excess food to needy communities in Singapore. This has helped reduce our food waste. Mee Toh school, our host today, is yet another good example. To nurture a stronger awareness of sustainability, Mee Toh has integrated environmental activities like recycling and sustainable farming into its curriculum. And it has a group of students called Environment Champions who organise their own green projects and encourage their classmates to take up environmentally friendly habits.
Building a greener Singapore is a key priority for me and my team in the government. As many of you know, we are currently undertaking the Forward Singapore exercise – to review our policies comprehensively, and to refresh our social compact.
We aim to forge a social compact with greater equality, where everyone has a stake. Many of the issues we have been discussing on Forward Singapore focus on today’s needs – be it in education, work, or housing. But a strong social compact cannot just provide for this generation. It must also provide for the needs across generations.
So, a key part of a fairer and more equal compact in Singapore is that we don’t just look after the needs of Singaporeans today, but we also ensure a better and greener future for Singaporeans tomorrow.
Crucially, we can achieve this only by working together. The government can and will set the right policies, frameworks and rules, and put in place the necessary infrastructure. At the same time, we need everyone in Singapore to do your part, and to take individual and collective actions towards a greener Singapore.
This is why we are launching Go Green SG today. It is a national movement to rally everyone in Singapore to work towards a greener and more sustainable future.
As part of this inaugural launch, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) has put together more than 300 activities over the next month for Singaporeans of all ages to participate in. There are a wide variety of activities. From learning journeys on our rich biodiversity, to behind-the-scenes tours by businesses on their sustainable practices; and of course, many workshops on how each of us can live more sustainably and protect our environment. So I encourage all Singaporeans to participate in these events, and learn how you can all do your part to help build a greener Singapore. Let me also take this opportunity to thank the more than 150 partner organisations of MSE which have come on board to organise these activities, many of whom are here today. Thank you for contributing to this national effort!
I hope that with this launch of Go Green SG, it will motivate, inspire and rally many Singaporeans to take meaningful action in this journey to green our economy and to green our society.
All of us can start by taking MSE’s Green Nation Pledge. Through the pledge, individuals and organisations can commit to undertake various actions that can contribute to Singapore’s green future.
You can decide what actions to take, based on your own level of preparedness. Sometimes, there may be a tendency to dismiss these sorts of individual actions. You may think: what good does it do if I were to raise the aircon temperature in my home by one degree. It won’t help anyone, it won’t make a difference. But imagine if every household in Singapore does the same thing, increased their aircon temperature by just one degree, we will be able to cut our carbon emissions by 23 kilo-tonnes and that’s equivalent to the emissions from 7,000 cars every year. Let’s not belittle or dismiss the individual actions or the small changes. Small changes can consistently add up over time and accumulate into remarkable results for ourselves and for Singapore.
So let us – each and everyone of us – be the change we want to see in a greener Singapore. To date, I understand more than 20,000 individuals and more than 500 organisations have put in their pledges under the Green Nation Pledge. It’s a good start, but we really want many more to step forward. So please make your own pledge today, and inspire others to join our Go Green SG movement.
Together, let’s build a greener, more liveable, and more sustainable Singapore, which we will all be proud to call home for today and for many more generations to come!
Thank you very much.
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