By PISA Program Assistant, Dr. Miriam Grinberg
With a population of over 5 million in a country smaller than New York City, Singapore boasts the seventh-largest gross domestic product per capita in the world. The country’s wealth suggests that it has the financial capacity to combat the effects of climate change (unlike previous countries highlighted in this series) and reduce its carbon footprint. Moreover, given the fact that Singapore lies only 15 meters above sea level on average – and that mean sea level in the surrounding Straits has risen at about 1.2 to 1.7 mm per year between 1975 and 2009 – ignoring the consequences of climate change could prove perilous.
This week the ten ASEAN member states released a joint statement on climate change during the 15th ASEAN summit. Beyond the standard boilerplate, it’s clear that ASEAN and its constituent states are preparing for an aggressive negotiation at Copenhagen—a move that aligns it heavily with China, but less so with its citizens. While nominally voicing support for the outgoing Kyoto Protocol and for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), one phrase in particular sums up its approach: “in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.” Although this position is not a new one, it is an indication that ASEAN is unlikely to show flexibility in its insistence that developed nations “take the lead” in reducing emissions. Whether the approval of ASEAN’s neighbor to the north is worth popular outrage remains to be seen.