About 72 per cent of Singaporeans think that protecting the environment should be given priority, even if it may result in slower economic growth and some loss of jobs, according to Pew Research Center’s international survey findings.
The non-partisan fact tank published its international survey findings on 29 September, which was conducted across 20 publics in Europe, the Asia-Pacific, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Russia from October 2019 to March 2020.
Pew Research Center found that public concerns about global climate change have increased over the past few years, with majorities expressed their Government is not doing enough to protect the environment.
Based on the survey findings, 71 per cent of publics prioritise environmental protection even if it causes slower economic growth.
“Large majorities rate a host of environmental issues as big problems, including air and water pollution, overburdened landfills, deforestation and the loss of plant and animal species,” it stated.
While in Singapore, 72 per cent of adults think that protecting the environment should be given priority over economic growth and jobs.
Only 23 per cent of Singaporean adults prioritise creating jobs even if the environment suffers to some extent.
Majorities (70%) see a great deal of impact from climate change in the place they live, especially publics living in Italy, Spain and Brazil.
“In Singapore, about two-thirds [65%] say climate change is affecting where they live a great deal [26%] or some [39%],” it asserted.
In terms of the Government’s effort in protecting the environment, 58 per cent of the 20 publics claimed that their Government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change.
The survey findings also indicated Singapore recorded the lowest shares of the 20 survey publics, with only 38 per cent of Singaporeans claimed that the Government action is lacking when it comes to protecting the environment.
“A slightly larger share [45%] say their [Singaporean] Government is doing about the right amount, and just 8% say it is doing too much,” Pew Research Centre added.
Singapore Government chose not to withdraw carbon taxes amid pandemic
While majorities of Singaporeans would choose to protect the environment over economic growth and jobs, as indicated in Pew Research Center’s survey findings, Singapore’s Government refused to withdraw its carbon taxes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was highlighted by the Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Jamus Lim on 9 October, who branded the Government’s decision not to withdraw carbon taxes as “an implicit admission” that environmental tradeoffs in any discussion of policy.
“The truth is, the environment affects all of us, and thinking about how we can be good stewards of it need not come at the expense of jobs or profit, and likewise not just when it suits us, as it is an existential issue that affects all future generations,” he said.
Dr Lim believes that the objectives of saving jobs and earth can be complementary, and he is not the only politician that tried to raise the issue of environmental tax in Parliament.
He shared on Facebook a screenshot of the notice requesting People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Don Wee to withdraw his question on introducing an environment tax on bottled and liquid products in next parliament sitting.
“And I am not alone: other colleagues in Parliament have thought about environmental taxes too, but of course are fully entitled to change their minds after careful consideration, as I am open to as well.”
Meanwhile, Dr Lim had earlier on (6 Oct) suggested imposing a “per-flight environmental tax” pertained to Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) earlier proposal to operate flights to nowhere.
He also highlighted that it is “entirely possible” that the tax will not have an immediate concern on the economic viability if SIA is able to pass on the cost to consumers.
The Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, however, stressed that “this is really not the time to talk about an environmental tax on SIA” because the airline is in a dire situation due to the pandemic.