Q: As a young person, looking at all that is happening, are you more optimistic about our ability to meet climate challenges, or are you increasingly worried about the future?
Mrs. Mandloi: I think the term we like to use is “cautiously optimistic”.
We see that there is reason to hope. We see an incredible movement among young people, and different stakeholders advocating for this issue. There is so much more to do and we see people in action.
But the caution comes from global trends, like new reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We see that the threats are extremely real and will only increase in the years to come.
So it’s really important that as a society and as young people, we carefully measure our optimism and our pessimism to make sure that where we’re going is where we can actually create transformation.
At the same time, we also need to be aware that the processes will take time and the complexity still exists. We have to kind of work slowly towards (our goals) and then ultimately create that kind of systemic, lasting change that we all crave.
Q: There’s this saying, “Never waste a good crisis.” What are the opportunities for a country like Singapore in the future?
Ms Tan: I think the biggest opportunity for Singapore will be to show the world that you can have net zero and have an action plan to support it.
We have seen so many net zero goals from countries and companies, but few of them have action plans. In the last year and a half, you can really see a huge change in the way climate challenges have been dealt with in Singapore, even though we’re facing Covid-19, even though we’re facing a global energy crisis.
For example, energy accounts for 40% of our total emissions. If we can get it to net zero by 2050, which a recent report said was realistic for us, that would really reduce a lot of our emissions and put us in a closer position to meet our national net zero goal.
The other lion’s share of national emissions comes from industry, and we recently heard in the budget that our carbon tax was going to reach a level that surprised many.
So I think all of this really shows that Singapore is committed to tackling climate change. While we were late in the game announcing our goal of net zero to be achieved by or around mid-century, we now have all of our ducks in a row.
So I think this is an opportunity to show the world that Singapore, despite its constraints, despite its reliance on imported energy, water and food, can still overcome these constraints through technology , to financial flows, to a better societal understanding of the changes that are necessary.