Singapore to launch studies on protection of its coastlines

SINGAPORE — The government will launch studies on the protection of Singapore's coastlines and measures to keep the island cool as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.

For a start, the coastal protection studies will cover City-East Coast and Jurong Island, which will commence later this year and complete within four years. The announcement was made by Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) Grace Fu during the ministry's budget debate in Parliament on Thursday (4 March).

The Public Utilities Board (PUB), which was appointed the National Coastal Protection Agency last year, said that the two areas have been identified earlier to be more vulnerable and critical based on factors such as the potential impact of a flood event and the importance of assets.

The PUB is said it expects to award the tender for the City-East Coast study in the coming months.

The study will develop coastal adaptation pathways and measures that can adapt to climate uncertainties, drawing on stakeholder insights as well as international best practices.

The measures will complement the land use or master plan for the City-East Coast, with co-location of amenities or recreational space for the community. Among the potential measures are sea walls, earthen bunds, empoldering and nature-based enhancements such as mangroves.

Site-specific studies and coastal protection measures for the various coastlines will be developed in phases progressively.

A boat passes in front of an oil refinery located on Singapore's Jurong Island March 28, 2009.  REUTERS/Vivek Prakash  (SINGAPORE ENERGY BUSINESS)
A boat passes in front of an oil refinery located on Jurong Island. (Reuters file photo)

Following City-East Coast and Jurong Island, studies to protect the North-West coast, comprising Sungei Kadut and Lim Chu Kang, will be next. These two areas include vital assets such as Kranji Reservoir and the Woodlands Checkpoint, while Sungei Kadut is also home to a number of industries such as timber, construction, and waste management.

"Climate change has caused more intense rainfall and more serious and frequent is important to develop a comprehensive and coordinated understanding of Singapore's level of flood resilience," Fu said.

PUB will develop a purpose-built model capable of analysing the combined effects of extreme sea levels and intense rainfall-induced inland floods.

The Coastal-Inland Flood Model will enable the agency to holistically assess inland and coastal flood risks.

"The development of the model is important for PUB’s coastal protection planning work, as Singapore needs to develop measures addressing conditions unique to Singapore (e.g. a densely built-up environment) and consider the impact of inland and coastal flooding holistically," said the agency.

The model will be capable of simulating flood events based on projected rainfall and coastal events while evaluating the effectiveness of proposed coastal infrastructure under various climate scenarios.

A tender has been called for its development and is expected to be awarded by the first half of this year.

By 2100, sea levels are expected to rise by more than one metre in Singapore due to climate change. A Coastal and Flood Protection Fund (CFPF) with an initial injection of S$5 billion, announced at Budget 2020, will fund coastal protection measures and drainage infrastructure.

Keeping island cool

The government will also mitigate the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect through a "three-pronged strategy". The effect is a phenomenon where urban areas, which are more built-up and densely populated, are warmer than rural areas.

"When temperature rises, we turn up air conditioners, which in turn generate more heat in the surrounding, resulting in a vicious cycle. Built-up areas, such as the CBD, can be more than three degrees Celsius hotter than our parks. High temperatures can be uncomfortable for our daily activities," Fu said.

Among the measures to be implemented include deploying an island-wide network of climate sensors to collect data, conducting research and modelling on UHI effects, as well as partnering the industry and public to implement a UHI mitigation action plan, including piloting the use of cool materials and reducing human-generated heat.

For instance, NParks will be deploying a network of 40 environmental sensors in western Singapore to collect data on ambient temperature, relative humidity, and wind speeds.

The JTC Corporation and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) have piloted the use of cool materials in industrial buildings and educational institutions.

Moving forward, the government is looking to partner interested building owners and cool materials suppliers to conduct pilots in other building and infrastructural archetypes, including transport infrastructure, residential districts, and commercial buildings.

As part of its Green Towns programme, the Housing and Development Board will be working with town councils to conduct a large-scale pilot on the application of cool materials on building facades and driveways. If effective, the application of cool coatings may be extended island-wide.

The Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS) has projected that Singapore’s maximum daily temperature could reach 35 to 37 degrees Celsius by year 2100, if carbon emissions continue to rise at the same rate and compounded by the UHI effect.

Current UHI measures that are being implemented in Singapore include increasing greenery provision in existing built-up areas, planning layouts of new buildings to maximise shade and wind flow, and electrifying the country's vehicle fleet.

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