Trending: The Climate Change Issue

In this issue: 2018 is Singapore’s Year of Climate Action. Challenge takes a look at what we and other countries are doing to tackle climate change.
An ice-breaking ship ploughs through thin ice

A Trend to Watch

Charting a new course with global warming

As the ice in the Arctic continues to thin, a possible upside for some countries in the north is the creation of new sea routes. That could mean shorter shipping routes between Europe, the United States and Asia. By 2030, a route via the North Pole may even be possible for ice-breaking ships, which can travel in ice up to 1.2 metres thick. And, by 2045 to 2060, the ice there may be so degraded that even cargo ships without icebreakers could travel directly over the North Pole. What opportunities and challenges will Singapore face if new arctic trade routes and ports open? To stay ahead of such developments, Singapore is part of the Arctic Council with an “observer” status. As the climate changes, will Singapore sink or rise? Being aware of the changing dynamics in the north will certainly help us find our way.

To learn more about shrinking ice caps, watch this video by NASA.

Global Outlook

The time to act is now

How different countries are combating climate change.

Climate Change: Singapore

2018 is Singapore’s year of climate action. Individuals and companies can pledge to positively impact the environment through practices like reducing one’s carbon footprint, going paperless, recycling, adopting more energy-efficient practices, and raising awareness of environmental concerns and solutions.

Climate Change: Japan

In Kamikatsu, a small Japanese town in Tokushima Prefecture, residents take zero-waste practices seriously: they sort their waste into 45 categories to maximise recycling efforts. Currently, up to 80% of non-organic waste there is reused or recycled (the national average is about 20%). There is also a shop where people can exchange items free of charge. The town aims to have completely zero waste by 2020. Read about how reusing things and reducing waste helps combat climate change.

Climate Change: Germany

Germany played a big part in reducing the price of solar cells worldwide. Its Renewable Energy Sources Act prioritises electricity from renewable sources over non-renewable sources. Since 2000, the government has set a fixed price for renewable electricity and provided subsidies for installing solar panels at homes. Those incentives raised the demand for solar cells, with Germany at one point buying nearly half the world’s supply.

Climate Change: China

Geoengineering is the use of techniques to alter the climate and counter the effects of climate change. Examples include making clouds more reflective and sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Since 2014, China has been developing one of the largest geoengineering research programmes, with US$3 million in government funding. Researchers study the impact of geoengineering on the global climate, and related policy and governance issues.

Climate Change: New York City
New York City (NYC)

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to the Paris Agreement includes a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. To get there, several billion US dollars have been set aside to make older buildings more energy efficient. NYC is also the first city outside California to sue the five largest oil companies for their part in causing climate change, in order to pay for the city’s efforts to cope with the effects.


Weather vs climate

Explainer: Weather

This refers to short-term conditions of one’s surroundings. Weather can fluctuate wildly from day to day or even – as anyone ever caught in a sudden downpour knows – from hour to hour. Observing or measuring weather is done using instruments that directly take a location’s temperature, rainfall, wind and other features, as well as weather satellites for cloud movements.

Explainer: Climate

Climate is the state of weather over a long-term period, about 30 years. It includes patterns and averages in weather over this extended time period. Observing or measuring climate requires collecting regular data, and making projections of that data into patterns and variations using factors such as temperature, rainfall and wind measurements.

Comparing weather and climate

Since the climate is an average of weather, it is more manageable to project changes over the years and detect trends, such as global warming (an increase in temperature over many years).

Learn the Lingo

Lingo: Two degrees Celsius

Two degrees Celsius

This is the upper limit for increasing global temperatures, with any further increase resulting in disastrous effects. The Paris Agreement, a global agreement for tackling climate change, has the goal of staying below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and keep to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, there is plenty of debate over whether this goal can be met, and how feasible this limit is.


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change organises the annual UN climate summits and the Paris Agreement. The 197 countries that are part of the UNFCCC are called Parties to the Convention. Annual UN climate summits are called Conference of the Parties (COP), and are numbered, e.g., the 23rd annual summit, held in 2017, is known as COP23.

    Jul 12, 2018
    Chia Soong Ming
    Brenda Lim
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