By Pang Xue Qiang
“People are aware that climate change is a serious problem but there is a lot of inertia from them. There is a reluctance to take action,” said Yuen Sai Kuan, director of 3P Network at the National Climate Change Secretariat.
Mr Yuen was among the speakers at Singapore Power Shift held last week on 12 and 13 July at NTUC Centre.
The event is part of a “Global Power Shift” movement started by international environmental organisation 350.org.
Over 50 youth leaders from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Brunei, the Philippines, and Vietnam participated in the workshop.
Bhavani Prakash – founder of Green Collar Asia and Eco Walk The Talk, also spoke at the event.
“Power Shift is about shifting from a feeling of powerlessness about our ability to take action to a feeling of empowerment – that the collective power of individuals makes a huge difference,” she said.
But are Singaporeans empowered when it comes to taking action on climate change?
A Climate Change Public Perception Survey in 2013 showed that the proportion of Singaporeans who felt that the government is mainly responsible for taking action on climate change has increased from 26.3% in 2011 to 40.1% in 2013.
So have we outsourced the responsibility to our government?
“Singaporeans are too reliant on the government. What we lack is the ground-up approach or at least responsibilities felt by the people to take action on climate change,” said Nor Lastrina Hamid, team manager of 350 Singapore.
“An individual must feel empowered to make the better choices: it is up to us to switch off that unused electrical appliance. It is up to us to purchase energy-efficient appliances by reading labels,” she added.
All the rhetoric surrounding climate change cannot seem to deny the fact that the best response is: less talk, more action.
“There are only certain things the government can do. What truly makes a difference is a matter of lifestyle: our personal choices and decisions,” said Mr Yuen.
And it seems that this can be done in our immediate surrounding.
“We can change our own consumption behaviour, and become role models in our communities to create a ripple effect.
“Take the link between our diet and climate change for instance. One thing to do is to reduce the quantity of factory-farmed meat and industrial-farmed fish in our diet.
“This, by the way, is good on the wallet, good for our health, and good for the environment,” said Ms Bhavani.
“Walk or cycle when you can. These are non-carbon emitting vehicles.
“If you take private vehicles in Singapore, you pay too much for COE and you’re stuck in traffic half of the time,” said Ms Lastrina.