Singapore cannot ignore its “long-term interests” in fighting climate change just because the cost of living is rising today, said a politician at the country’s environment office.
Young people need to go green in their lifestyles, provide feedback to policymakers and organize action around passion topics to play their part, added Desmond Tan, state minister for sustainability and the environment.
A survey by consultancy Deloitte this month found that the cost of living is a major concern among people aged 20 to 40 globally, followed by climate change.
“Many Gen Z and millennials are reassessing what matters most to them as they grapple with the constant distraction and uncertainty over the past few years,” said Deloitte deputy global chief executive, Michele Parmelee.
In Singapore, nearly twice as many people worry about the cost of living as climate change, much higher than the global average in the survey.
Core inflation in the city-state hit a 10-year high in March, supported by rising fuel and food costs caused by the post-pandemic recovery and the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.
“To achieve sustainability, there are some cost increases,” Tan said, citing how households will need to pay more for electricity when Singapore raises its carbon tax in 2024.
Singapore’s current carbon price is S$5 (US$3.60) per tonne. It will rise to S$25 (US$18.20) in 2024and electricity bills for the government’s four-bedroom apartment are expected to rise by around S$4 (US$2.90) – an increase of about 4.5 percent.
The country wants to increase its carbon tax by up to S$80 (US$58.20) by 2030, as part of its ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by around 2050.
Tan spoke to Eco-Business on Friday on the sidelines of the Sustainability Exchange, an event hosted by EB Impact, the non-profit arm of Eco-Business.
More than 40 youths are matched with mentors to address the sustainability issues facing Singapore. They submitted their ideas to a panel of judges including professionals from Meta, Facebook’s parent company, Singapore-based OCBC Bank and Singapore’s ministry of sustainability and environment.
Five of the 11 teams selected for funding by event partners OCBC Bank. Their project seeks to connect companies and the public in green initiatives, design online games about food security, and create online portals for sustainability resources. Two teams proposed the use of vending machines — for reusable cutlery and for refilling soft drinks.
OCBC Bank committed S$100,000 (US$72,800) to fund last year’s winning projects. The final number for each team has not yet been decided.
“There is now greater awareness of what is important to Singapore in terms of sustainability. The next stage is about adoption. How do we change behavior, and how do you get people to adopt eco-friendly practices?” said Koh Ching Ching, head of group branding and communications at OCBC Bank.
Koh added that projects as presented may not be fully viable, and the bank will work with participants on ways to hone ideas and fund them.
Third-year psychology and marketing scholar Illene Chow, 23, who was part of a team of four students exploring the use of vending machines for soft drinks, said it was an unexpected honor to be named among the winners.
“What if you could actually quench everyone’s thirst while saving the Earth? That’s how we came up with the vending machine idea,” explains Chow, adding that he is working on deploying machines in schools and office buildings.