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AFP
August 19, 2019

‘Singapore to bolster coastal defences against rising sea levels’

World

AFP
August 19, 2019

SINGAPORE: Singapore needs at least $72 billion to build defences against rising sea levels, its leader said Sunday as the low-lying city-state gears up against the impact of climate change.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described climate change as "one of the gravest challenges facing humankind" and said the Southeast Asian country is already feeling the impact through a hotter weather and heavier rainstorms.

He devoted a large portion of a major policy speech late Sunday -- which included initiatives on the economy and social issues -- on how the city-state will tackle global warming.

"Because we are a low-lying island, Singapore is especially vulnerable to one grave threat, and that is rising sea levels," he warned. City planners previously required buildings to be constructed at least three metres (9.9 feet) above the mean sea level, leaving a one-meter buffer against flooding after high tide.

But if sea levels rise by one metre due to global warming, the buffer could be breached when heavy rains coincide with high tide, prompting the government to require new developments to be built four metres above sea level.

Critical infrastructure like the Changi Airport’s new Terminal 5 must be built five metres above sea level. Lee cited findings by Singapore’s Centre for Climate Research that the city-state, "is more vulnerable to climate change than the global model suggests" because it is near the equator.

A key measure will be to build the island’s coastal defences, he said. One option is to learn from the experience of the Netherlands which reclaimed from the sea by building a seawall and then draining the water within it to create dry land called "polders", he said.

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