Asia Minute: Singapore Adapting to Climate Change

Aug 20, 2019

New research out this week recalculates some of the costs of climate change. A report from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds the current pace of carbon emissions will cause the U.S. economy to shrink by more than 10% by the year 2100. One country in the Asia Pacific is taking new steps to tackle climate change.

Singapore’s Prime Minister calls climate change “one of the gravest challenges facing humankind” — and made it the theme of his annual National Day address on Sunday. Lee Hsien Loong said, “our weather is palpably hotter. Rainstorms are heavier and this will very likely worsen over the next few decades.”

Lee said the national government’s approach to climate change includes education, mitigation and adaptation.

The country is part of the Paris Climate Accord and earlier this year introduced a carbon tax.

In 2013, it set up the Center for Climate Research Singapore — focusing on regional effects of climate developments. Later this year it will start a national program studying the specific impacts of rising sea levels on Singapore.

Lee said research is already leading to a change in building codes.

This is not the first time Singapore has adjusted to its environment, the city faced regular flooding during the rainy seasons in the 1960’s and 70’s – leading the government to make heavy investments in drainage systems.

It also required buildings to be constructed on platforms at least 3 meters above sea level — about ten feet.

Now, the prime minister says certain infrastructure will be built at least 5 meters above sea level — that’s nearly 16.5 feet.