‘Climate action a joint burden’

Climate change can wreak “catastrophic and irreversible” damage on societies and economies, so taking action to avoid such an outcome is a responsibility that businesses must take, said President Halimah Yacob.

Climate action also presents a business opportunity, she said during the launch of Ecosperity Week – a sustainability conference organised by Singapore’s Temasek.

The three-day conference, which takes place in a hybrid format with some delegates gathering at Marina Bay Sands, will focus on climate solutions.

Discussions will cover issues such as decarbonisation technologies, including sustainable fuels for the aviation and maritime sectors, nature-based climate solutions, and tools that can help divert capital to meet climate goals.

Halimah said: “The Singapore story is testament to the fact that sustainability and economic growth need not be mutually exclusive... That belief is also captured in the name of this event Ecosperity, which pairs the words ‘ecology’ and ‘prosperity’.”

While the consequences of climate change are widespread, Halimah said South-East Asia faces disproportionate risk.

The long coastlines and densely populated low-lying areas in Asean make the region vulnerable to rising sea levels, she said.

“In a scenario where sea levels rise by 1m, at least 89 million people in the region would be living in zones at high risk of frequent coastal flooding. Typhoons and other weather events are becoming more intense and more frequent, and leave a higher human and economic toll,” said Halimah.

And as the world gets warmer owing to humans belching out more planet-warming greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, businesses will also suffer.

The Climate Economics Index by research organisation Swiss Re Institute has warned that if no climate action is taken and temperatures rise by 3.2 °C by mid-century, the gross domestic product of Asean economies could decline by a third compared with what it would have been in a world without warming, Halimah said.

Under the Paris Agreement inked in 2015, nations agreed to take action to limit global warming to well below 2 °C, preferably to 1.5 °C, compared with pre-industrial levels.

Climate change impact gets more severe for every degree of warming. — The Straits Times/ANN

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