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Paris accord strikes right balance, says Vivian Balakrishnan

He also says temperature cap goals will give low-lying island states "some reassurance"
Monday, December 14, 2015 - 05:50
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"We need transparency in order for us to build mutual trust and confidence within the structure of this agreement," says Dr Balakrishnan, on the significance of Article 13.

Singapore

MINISTER for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan has lauded the historic Paris agreement to combat climate change as having struck the right balance between the developed and developing countries.

The Paris accord caps nearly two weeks of negotiations among 195 countries.

It calls on countries to limit the rise in global temperature to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to a more-ambitious 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Dr Balakrishnan was a co-chair at the talks to guide discussions on differentiation - a concept referring to the different roles and responsibilities that developed and developing nations have where fighting climate change is concerned.

"At its core, differentiation is really about fairness," said Dr Balakrishnan in his statement on Saturday at the Committee of Paris session to welcome the Paris agreement.

"I believe the current agreement strikes the right balance between the developed countries and the developing parties, the right balance between mitigation and adaptation, the right balance between means of implementation and ambition."

Apart from differentiation, the second core issue that Singapore focused on was transparency, the minister said.

"Our chief negotiator Kwok Fook Seng exercised great effort and imagination to help refine the text for Article 13," Dr Balakrishnan said. In the agreement, Article 13 sets out the transparency framework for the deal.

"We need transparency in order for us to build mutual trust and confidence within the structure of this agreement. Good transparency rules hold us accountable to each other. It helps demonstrate that we will do what we say."

More importantly, Dr Balakrishnan said, the citizens of Singapore demand transparency.

"We need to account to our own citizens back home. They want to see that we are going to do everything it takes to deal with the challenge of climate change. And transparency keeps us accountable not just to each other as parties but to our own people whom we represent here, and it helps us to collectively move forward with confidence."

Dr Balakrishnan also lauded the temperature cap goals in the agreement, saying that they will give low- lying island states "some reassurance". Singapore is a member of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries.

"As a member of AOSIS, let me express our appreciation to all the parties for taking into account the special circumstances of the most vulnerable low-lying island states . . . My brothers and sisters in AOSIS will also appreciate the mechanism for 'loss and damage'," Dr Balakrishnan said.

In a statement on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee on climate change, said: "We are honoured that Singapore has contributed to the success of the talks. Our ministers and officials have done well by playing the role of an honest broker, to help reach agreement on difficult issues."

With the agreement adopted, Singapore will work towards its pledge to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and to stabilise its emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030, Mr Teo added.

READ MORE: After Paris, what lies ahead for world climate?

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