COP26 The Road to Action: Ambitious or Achievable?
What is COP26?
COP26 stands for Conference of the Parties and this year will be the 26th annual summit. This event is a global United Nations summit about climate change and how countries are planning to tackle it. The event was due to take place in Glasgow, Scotland November last year with more than 200 world leaders attending. However, due to the pandemic, it has been delayed to this year. This event is attended by countries that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which is a treaty agreed in 1994. (BBC, 2021)
Why is COP26 so important?
“…the current way in which we consume, our habits and the way we treat our planet is not sustainable.” – Minister of Sustainability and the Environment, Ms Grace Fu (MSE’s COS Debates, 2021)
Climate change is not only the concern of world leaders or scientists. Climate change affects all of us. It affects the planet that we are living in, and in case you have not already caught up, we do not have a Planet B. The world is getting warmer because of fossil fuel emissions caused by humans. We have witnessed the effects of global warming with increased flooding, heatwaves, forest fires and water scarcity, just to name a few. How long are we going to wait to take action? COP26 is a crucial event for the world to take viable and urgent steps to ease climate change. This event is a platform for all the countries to come together and work out ways to protect this planet we all call home. (BBC, 2021)
What actions have countries taken so far?
After the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, countries have agreed on NDC or the National Determined Contributions. This is where countries have to communicate a Nationally Determined Contribution every 5 years in order to reach the goal set in the Paris Agreement. The goal was to limit the average global temperature rise to below 2°C, and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.
The Paris Agreement also invited the countries to submit long-term climate and development strategies. These are the efforts that the countries have made so far to update their NDCs.
Singapore Green Plan 2030
The Green Plan is a goal for the next 10 years to achieve Singapore’s long-term net zero emissions aspiration as soon as possible. There are 5 key aspects that the Green Plan is to focus on which is as follows:
1) City in Nature
Singapore is planning to set aside 50% more land for nature parks. They are also planting 1 million more trees across the island, which will absorb another 78,000 tonnes of CO2.
2) Energy Reset
Although land space does not allow Singapore to create a large-scale renewable energy project, they have strived to be more energy efficient. One of the efforts being the shifting to natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel available. Singapore has also quadrupled its solar energy deployment to 5 times that of today by 2030.
3) Green Economy
Singapore’s 2019 broad-based carbon tax has been supporting projects to help enterprises reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The vision is to become the leading centre for Green Finance in Asia and Globally.
4) Resilient Future
Increasing greenery and using cool paint on building facades, moderating the rise in urban heat. Singapore has also announced their 30 by 30 target to meet 30% of the country’s nutritional needs through locally produced food by 2030. This will be done in partnership with a vibrant agri-food industry and Singapore’s communities.
5) Sustainable Living
Singapore is aiming to reduce the waste sent to our landfill by 30%. The country is also trying to raise public transport trips taken from 64% to 75% by 2030. Furthermore, they are planning to expand Singapore’s cycling network from 460km to 1,320 km.
Agri-Food Industry in Singapore
“Technology has allowed us to grow more with less” – Daniel Wong, Head of Technology, Netatech (SGFoodAgency, 2020)
Singapore has less than 1% of land to grow food. This means that the country has to find innovative ways in order to increase the locally produced products. To overcome the constraint in land and resources, farmers have turned to technology. There are farms that use indoor multi-storey LED lighting and recirculating aquaculture systems to produce 10 to 15 times more than traditional farms.
Singapore is also embarking on a holistic exercise to master plan the Lim Chu Kang area into a high-tech agri-food zone that can raise food production in a sustainable and resource-efficient manner. It will also explore how to introduce circular economy principles where the by-products of farms can be used as inputs for other parts of the agri-food economy system. When developed, the Lim Chu Kang agri-food zone can potentially produce more than three times its current food production capacity.
As for fish production, Singapore is looking into the expansion of sustainable fish farming in the deeper Southern Waters of Singapore and transforming the coastal fish farms in the Straits of Johor. Singapore is also utilising its land by using alternative farming spaces, such as the rooftops of multi-storey car parks.
Semakau landfill is Singapore’s first and only offshore landfill. This was developed in response to growing waste volumes amidst land constraints in the country. The landfill is located 8km South of Singapore, enclosing part of the sea off Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sakeng. The landfill is mostly filled with ashes produced by incineration plants.
However, Semakau Landfill’s lifespan is getting shorter by the minute. There are about 2,100 tonnes sent to the landfill daily. At this rate, the landfill is expected to be fully filled by 2035. This is why Singapore’s Inaugural Zero Waste Master Plan was launched on 30 August 2019, to reduce the waste sent to Semakau Landfill each day by 30 percent by 2030, increasing its lifespan beyond 2035.
The United Kingdom’s Nationally Determined Contribution includes committing to a reduction of at least 68% in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. This is the fastest rate of reductions from a major economy to date.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE has submitted its first Nationally Determined Contribution(NDC) in 2015 but has decided to submit a new NDC that reflects an economy-wide emission reduction target. It intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions for the year 2030 by 23.5% relative to the Business-As-Usual scenario. The country is determined to commit to the Paris Agreement and to pursue climate mitigation and adaptation objectives in line with its national circumstances and capabilities.
United States of America
The USA has submitted its new nationally determined contribution (NDC) setting an economic-wide target to reduce its net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030. As for the energy sector, responsible for 25% of 2019 GHG emissions in the US, the NDC sets the goal to reach 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035. The NDC has also recognized the transport sector as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. It has high dependency on fossil fuels, with more than 90% of energy use coming from petroleum. (SDG Knowledge Hub, 2021)
What happened to the $100 Billion promise to accelerate climate change in developing nations?
During COP15 in 2009, developed countries pledged USD100 billion per year in climate finance to developing countries by 2020. This was aimed to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. However, 2020 has passed and these figures are still not in. (Nature, 2021)
“Parties must urgently redouble their climate efforts if they are to prevent global temperature increases (that) will lead to a destabilised world and endless suffering.” – Patricia Espinosa C. (Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change)
Coco Veda’s Sustainability Efforts
Coco Veda Singapore is aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is a proud member of Singapore’s Social Enterprise platform raiSE. Coco Veda’s Founder and Co-CEO, Simarna Singh, is a United Nations Youth Ambassador and Sustainability Leader. She is determined to make a difference in the environment with a company that values Sustainability. Sustainability is embedded within the company’s business model, so our entire packaging is reusable, refillable and recyclable. As a company, Coco Veda does not only aim to provide quality health and wellness products to people, but it is equally important for us to be mindful of our impact on the environment. All our products are handcrafted by our all-women team without using any heat or machinery, making the production more energy efficient. This ensures employability to the people since we need the manpower to manufacture our goods. All our products are also waterless which means that it can last longer and is more sustainable.
What is everyone’s role to ensure action?
Everyone can help in fighting climate change. You can start with as simple as educating somebody about important events such as COP26, or making that switch to using more eco-friendly products that are sustainable. You can also start making more environmentally-friendly decisions as you go about your day, such as taking the public transport to work instead of driving a private vehicle.
We need to act now. It is not enough to rely on our leaders to act on climate change because we too have a part to play. Countries have come together in this annual event in the hopes of saving our planet from climate change. The leaders have the power to create the policies and allocate funds but you have the power to follow them and create your own environmental impact. Everyone’s efforts are equally crucial to fighting climate change.
Coco Veda as a Social Enterprise is focused on our vision to maximize our efforts in fighting this environmental crisis. Let us all work together to pave a better future for ourselves and the future generations to come!