THIS IS NOT A TOTAL DEFENCE DRILL – SINGAPORE’S FIRST CLIMATE CHANGE RALLY

Written by Joseph Ong

What Went Down?

On 21 September, over two thousand turned up at Hong Lim Park for Singapore’s first climate rally. Organised by 15 young activists, the rally was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a prominent 16-year-old climate activist who kickstarted the global movement. The organisers chose the tagline of the rally, “This is not a total defence drill”, and urged protesters to wear red to highlight the severity of the climate situation. The rally featured a range of activities and spaces, which included a card game on deforestation, a mobile library of children’s books about the environment and a booth where participants could write their environmental concerns in postcards to their Members of Parliament (MP).

Amongst the speakers, 11-year-old Oliver Chua stood out. He spoke passionately on the need to educate youths on climate change, suggesting that schools feature environmental studies in the curriculum. The rally drew attendance from notable political figures, including Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, and MP Louis Ng. At the end, the event closed with a “die-in” where participants collapsed to the ground like dominos to demonstrate the effects of climate change on human life.

Is The Government Doing Enough? 

The rally raised the issue of whether the government is doing enough to fight global warming. In this year’s National Day Rally, PM Lee Hsien Loong outlined measures which included introducing a carbon tax on industrial emissions and committing S$100 billion in engineering solutions to protect Singapore from the effects of rising sea levels. However, the advocates felt that the government was merely taking adaptive measures, and not doing enough to address the cause of the problem – high greenhouse gas and carbon emissions. Speaker Mr Ho Xiang Tian, founder of environmental advocacy group LepakinSG argued that  “Singapore only takes responsibility for 0.11% of the world’s emissions, and that is always the reason cited for our lack of climate action. But we ignore the fact that we are the world’s fifth largest refinery export hub, or that the fuel we provide to ships and planes emit almost three times of our own national emissions.”

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