Last week, the 12th edition of Arctic Frontiers - Norway’s most significant arena for discussions on Arctic issues - was held in Tromsø, Norway. Singapore’s Minister of State Sam Tan has been a frequent attendee at the conference after Singapore became an observer to the Arctic Council in 2013. Said Mr Tan during his speech: “As the bellwether for climate change, the Arctic experiences these changes in the extreme. Science will help us to better understand these changes and prepare us to better protect the precious but fragile Arctic. Singapore’s Arctic research policy aims to build up our Arctic knowledge, develop solutions to Arctic challenges and create awareness of Arctic issues in our region.”
Last year, Arctic Frontiers brought their seminar “Arctic Frontiers Abroad” to Singapore; this was the first time the conference was held in Asia. Mr Tan gave the opening speech, repeating the now well-known phrase that “whatever happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic”. All puns aside - the phrase has been proven to be true. The changes that are happening in the Arctic now, is a warning sign of what might happen to the rest of the world in the future.
Melting ice caps and rising sea levels are particularly dangerous for a small, low-lying island city-state such as Singapore. It therefore might not come as a surprise that Singapore committed strongly to the Paris agreement, just as Norway – and has even declared 2018 as the year of climate action, pledging to take action today for a sustainable future. As one would say in Singlish: “Then, how?”
When it comes to reducing the carbon footprint, no step is too large or too small; in Hole in Norway, even a minor adjustment such as automatically dimming streetlights will make a difference in the long run. Other larger changes that have made an impact in Norway is reducing tax on electric vehicles; Norway is now the country with the highest per capita number of all-electric cars in the world. Similar initiatives are taking place in Singapore; taxi companies are moving towards electric vehicles, and there is even a car-sharing company providing electric cars to share.
Above: Electric cars at a charging station in Bergen, Norway
In Singapore’s “Year of Climate Action”, we are cooperating with Singapore on several events focusing on climate change and the environment. During Singapore Maritime Week in April, we are teaming up for green shipping through the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) conference on “Green shipping, Blue business, Moving Forward”. Minister of Climate and Environment Ola Elvestuen will attend the conference. During his stay, the Minister will also have meetings in Singapore, to discuss further opportunities for cooperation on environmental issues. In addition, he will also visit Norwegian companies in Singapore , focusing on companies with core operations within technology, climate and environment.
Later this year, we will again be organising the Norway Singapore Third Country Training Programme (TCTP). These programmes are seminars where Singapore and Norway jointly invite public sector officials from countries in the region, shedding light on different subjects. Last year, the seminar focused on improved waste management hindering marine litter. Problems and solutions in regards to marine litter will be one of the main topics this year as well, in addition to discussions on moving from a linear to a circular economy.
Singapore and Norway are both nations with a strong maritime history, and the ties between our nations have been formed much due to our dependency on the ocean and ports. Recently, through events such as the TCTP and the ASEM-meeting, we will add a green dimension to this relationship, viewing new solutions through a low-carbon perspective. We are looking forward to continuing our close cooperation especially on green initiatives, partnering up for a climate-resilient future.