Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment what is the rationale for Singapore being a potential claimant from the Loss and Damage Fund set up in COP27, in view that many other potential claimant countries from this fund have much lower levels of GDP per capita and income than Singapore does.
The Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien): Mr Speaker, this Question has been raised and answered in Parliament on 24 February. I have no update to provide to the House. The Member may wish to refer to that reply.
Mr Speaker: Mr Perera.
Mr Leon Perera (Aljunied): I thank the Minister for her reply. I think in the last exchange, the Minister mentioned that Singapore is currently considering to be either a claimant or a donor to the COP27 Biodiversity Fund. So, my supplementary question would be would the Government consider being a donor rather than a claimant given that it behooves us as a developed country to do our part to maintain global biodiversity vis a vis countries such as, for example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has much larger land and biodiversity resources and also less funding to manage that issue.
Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would just like to refer to my reply and I will repeat it here: we have not reached an understanding on what the fund entails; we did not have a chance to discuss this internationally and therefore, we have not decided whether we would contribute or we would claim from this fund.
So, our position is open and this is part of negotiations at the international level.
We will take into consideration all views, Singaporeans as well as the needs of the international community, as we enter the discussion at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
But maybe I would like to thank the Member for his support for the Loss and Damage Fund and in helping developing countries.
If I may, Mr Speaker, maybe ask the Member for his position, whether the party, Workers’ Party, supports contributing to the fund and if so, what amount should we contribute and to which countries. Besides the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where would he draw the line between developing countries and least developed countries?
Mr Leon Perera: I thank the Minister for her question. I will not speak for the party. I can share my personal opinion. I think we should make a reasonable contribution. And where do you draw the balance point on that? I do not have a figure, but I think we can take reference perhaps from other developed countries with a similar size of economy, of GDP as ours and use that as a reference point.
How those funds should be disbursed to different developing countries? I think it should be in proportion to the needs and the resources of those developing countries, meaning to say in proportion to the land area and biodiversity challenge that those developing countries face, and the funding, GDP, availability of government funds that those developing countries have.
Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien: Thank you. I take it that the Member would recommend that we tag our contribution or donation to the fund at the GDP level, regardless of whether it is a developing or developed country, or whether it is taking into consideration things like population size.
I would also like to perhaps clarify from the Member whether he would suggest that we move away from the agreement that we have reached in Paris. Because so far, the Paris Agreement is the basis for all discussions and, in the Paris Agreement, there are certain understandings that have been reached. Is the Member suggesting that for the Loss and Damage Fund, we should move away from established agreement internationally?
Mr Leon Perera: I thank the Minister for her reply. Basically, just to reiterate what I just said, because I am not sure if what the Minister recapitulated reflected what I said.
I was suggesting that, in terms of the donation that we make to the COP27 fund, reference can be taken from what other developed countries of a similar size or GDP to ours are donating. That means you look at what other developed countries are doing and you normalise that according to GDP. That was my suggestion.
And for where those funds should go, that should be distributed according to the challenges that the developing countries are facing in terms of biodiversity scale and the resources that those developing countries have to address the issues. This is just to clarify what I said earlier.
Should we move away from the Paris Agreement? No. In fact, I would like to ask the Minister to share whether donating to the COP27 fund necessarily involves deviating from previous agreements made in Paris. It is not my understanding that it does, but perhaps she has a different perspective and some information to share on that point.
Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien: Sir, I appreciate that this is the second question the Member has made two months after my first reply. In the first reply, if the Member had gone through in detail, he would notice that I have taken pains to explain that we are discussing this and there is a principle that all parties are adhering to – which is, the Paris Agreement.
And in the Paris Agreement, there is a clear definition of who the developing countries are and who the developed countries are, and we do not belong to the developed countries.
So, if the Member is now suggesting that Singapore is a developed country and benchmarking to the other developed countries, that is a deviation from the Paris Agreement.
Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment
21 April 2023