Revolutions and Resolutions
As we enter the final two months of the year, it’s a good time to reflect over the past year, but also to look towards the future. Our next theme, Revolutions and Resolutions, embodies that spirit. What are some notable historical moments that have led to the way we live today? Political, economic, social…we’re eager to hear your thoughts. Look out on our Instagram in mid-Nov for our post on this next theme!
As for the second half of the theme, with COP27 now in full swing and Singapore committing to net-zero by 2050 and increasing its 2030 target, the future looks a bit more promising, but as always, there is lots more to be done. We look forward to seeing all countries increase their climate targets and to work together to build a better future.
Have a good month ahead and stay safe!
For a better world,
SG Climate Rally
Rounding off our current theme of Myths, Migrants, and Monsoons, we’ve got two articles focusing on some salient and popular ‘myths’ in the climate space. First, we posted about the oft-cited refrain that Singapore only accounts for 0.11% of global carbon emissions, and how our limited options for renewable energy means any reduction in emissions would be highly costly and have a small impact anyway globally. However, as we detail, we can look at this from different angles, such as focusing on our per capita emissions, and whether we are paying our fair share compared to others in the world.
We also focused our lens on the popular arena of sustainable finance or otherwise known as ESG investing. Can you really save the world and make money at the same time? As we looked at the evidence, we found sloppy standards, suspected greenwashing, and overall not a strong case to support the bold claims ESG funds often make.
US President Joe Biden accused oil companies of ‘war profiteering’ off the war in Ukraine and threatened to impose a windfall tax on oil companies if they don’t reinvest their profits into increasing production and capacity to bring down oil prices. The policy would need congressional approval and as such appears unlikely to be implemented, however, it is the first major mention of a windfall tax on oil companies by the White House.
Protesters from the Just Stop Oil climate movement made international headlines after throwing tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting at the National Gallery in London. They then glued themselves to the wall beneath the artwork. The protesters said that they had taken the action to draw attention to their cause and highlight how people would be more outraged over artwork than the fossil fuel industry’s damage to the environment.
Since then, other protesters have followed suit in tossing other household foodstuff on paintings and generally staging acts of civil disobedience. Reactions to such acts have been divided, with some praising the protesters for their methods; others criticising them and wondering why they don’t take direct action against the fossil fuel industry or protest against political leaders who have the power to do so. Research, however, shows that radical protests provoke more public conversation about the topic and may increase support for more moderate factions of the movement overall.
The UN said that climate change is speeding up, with methane concentrations in the atmosphere marking their biggest-ever registered increase in 2021, potentially exacerbating the effects of climate change. This may represent a ‘climate feedback loop’, where warmer temperatures lead to organic material decomposing faster and creating more emissions. Warmer water temperatures have also led to a mass die-off of Alaskan snow crabs.
The government announced that Singapore would commit to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and will also revise its 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution to ‘peak emissions earlier’ and reduce emissions to 60 million tonnes. The public sector will also commit to achieving net-zero emissions around 2045. While this is a good step forward, it is still some distance away from the IPCC’s targets to peak emissions by 2025 and halve them by 2030. Check out our Instagram post responding to the announcements!
To reach net-zero, the government announced that they are also looking at increasing the use of hydrogen as an energy source in the coming years. The results of the net-zero public consultation by the National Climate Change Secretariat was also announced concurrently. Notably, two-thirds of respondents said that Singapore’s net zero target by 2050 was ‘not sufficiently ambitious’, and suggested alternative years, mostly ranging from 2040-2049. Overall, the consultation received 490 responses from members of the public, representatives of businesses and NGOs. We thank all of you who made the time to submit your responses; the raising of the net-zero target would not have been possible without your input!
COP27 is in full swing, and one of the items on the agenda again is “loss and damage”, or in other words, reparations from richer, more pollutive countries to those who bear the brunt of climate change. It’s often the subject of a lot of controversy, but as this article shows, there are historical precedents for other types of reparations, and it is crucial to make some step forward in COP27, even if not all the demands from countries in the Global South are met. Although Singapore is not required to provide climate finance due to its “developing country” status, we argue that this should be relooked, as quoted in this CNA article.
Egypt is the host this time around for COP27, and world leaders, ministers, activists and journalists have descended upon Sharm el-Sheikh for the most important climate conference of the year. However, as Naomi Klein details, Egyptian authorities themselves have imprisoned activists who speak out about environmental issues in the country. As such, is COP27 just a chance for Egypt to greenwash its climate credentials? It behooves civil society actors who care about climate justice travel to speak up about this while in Egypt.
And back home, our local green community (including SGCR!) expanded and refined upon last year’s youth policy paper ahead of COP27. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to such a wide-ranging and thoroughly researched paper, which touches on topics such as energy, green finance, biodiversity, community empowerment, and a just transition, amongst others. To view the paper, click here.