Efforts towards net-zero goal start from individual actions: Dialogue panellists


SINGAPORE - Recycling is no longer limited to the efforts of a karung guni (rag-and-bone) man who collects used items, but is now a way of life for everyone, given the current climate crisis.


This was a point driven by Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu and three other panellists at an outreach dialogue on sustainability at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh on Saturday.

She was joined by Ms Carine Ang, senior programme director of 96.3 Hao FM, who was the master of ceremonies for the event; Mr Adrian Yeap, chief executive of Yeap Transport; and Ms Susan Tan, environmental sustainability manager for Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu-Chi Foundation (Singapore).

The event was organised by government feedback unit Reach and Chinese-language evening daily Shin Min Daily News.

Ms Fu said the concept of net-zero is like a bank account.

“Just like how your bank account will empty out if you keep making withdrawals, the earth will suffer if we keep emitting greenhouse gases without any efforts at sustainability.

“These gases are invisible and colourless, but their effects are very visible – over the past 40 years, Singapore’s temperature has risen by 1 deg C,” she said.

“Recycling is not just a trend for younger people – the older generation is actually very interested in sustainable living as well,” added Ms Fu, noting that the practice can also help to lower costs, such as using more energy efficient air conditioners.

The dialogue aimed to gather Singaporeans’ perspectives on sustainability issues, and was organised in support of Forward SG, said a Reach spokesman.

Forward SG is a year-long national exercise launched in June which aims to harness the views of Singaporeans to shape the nation’s future and renew its social compact.

Ms Tan said that recycling is “not one large effort, but consists of many small actions”. Her habits include bringing reusable takeaway boxes when she buys food, shopping for clothes only when necessary, and eating less meat to reduce methane emissions.

More than 200 people were at the dialogue, which was the third of a three-part series. The first was on women’s development and the second was on the challenges faced by vulnerable groups in society.

Many in the audience of mainly Mandarin-speaking elderly Singaporeans shared their sustainable practices, such as growing vegetables and using reusable tote bags for grocery runs.

A video was played at the event featuring Mediacorp actors Henry Thia and Marcus Chin as well as getai performer Michelle Choo, who highlighted the severity of global warming’s impacts, including rising sea levels and desertification, among other issues.

Reusable takeaway boxes were given to the participants at the dialogue.

Said Mr Yeap: “There’s no need to be perfect in your sustainability efforts. The road towards a greener world is made up of many small steps. As long as everyone plays their part, we can take these small steps towards a sustainable future.”