Congratulations to the winners of National YRE Competition! All participants can receive a certificate of participation. If you require one, please email us with your full name. We look forward to your entries this year!

Wesley Poh, the National YRE Competition 2017 winner attended COP24 in Katowice, Poland in December 2018 and reported live coverage on the conference, which you can read here. Wesley was also featured on The Independent Malta.

11 - 14

Let's do more in Change, let's do more in Climate

Tan Iok Hian

North Vista Primary School

The one thing attributed to climate change can be summarised in one word. Greed. Greed has caused mankind to turn against nature. We take what Mother Nature has given us for granted. ASEAN have promised us that they will do everything they can to stop deforestation and war on climate change but so far, the haze is still coming. This only shows one thing, they have failed in their quest to stop climate change. There is only one way. We have to engage in an all-out war on climate change.

Let’s do more in Change, let’s do more in Climate

Recently, there have been many talks about climate change. Climate change is defined as a sudden or gradual change in climate regionally or globally. The biggest problem now attributed to climate change is global warming.

Ever since the industrial revolution in the early 1800s where machines that run on coal gradually replaced human labor, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere has increased drastically. Before the industrial revolution, the CO2 levels, as measured by ppm (parts per million), is at 280 ppm. Now, due to coal plants, deforestation by burning and various human activities, the levels skyrocketed to 400 ppm in September 2016. 1 A number that has not been broken for 15 million years. This is especially alarming as more carbon dioxide means rising average temperatures which jumped 0.85°C from 1880 to 2012.

The chart below shows it all: 2

Earth in 1880, CO2 levels are lower so Temperature is under control

High CO2 level causes rising temperature

Here in Singapore and Southeast-Asia, we are not insulated from the effects of climate change. Higher CO2 means higher air temperature causing the much hated heat that was a record 37°C in 1983 and more recently in April 2016, 36.7°C recorded in the Seletar region 3 and the much more intense thunderstorms. Climate change also caused floods in Singapore and many of the low lying cities like Bangkok in Thailand. Typhoons are also prevalent and Singapore first experienced the power of a typhoon in 2001 when Typhoon Vamei struck northern Singapore and caused extreme floods.

Another major problem is that the burning of forests using the slash-and-burn method has created huge problems. Not only does it destroy trees that can absorb the CO2 and bring the temperature down, it can also cause severe air pollution and smog that the wind blows to other Southeast Asian countries and we get a lot of lung and health problems. 4

The one thing attributed to all these happenings can be summarized in one word. Greed. Greed has caused mankind to turn against nature. We take what Mother Nature has given us for granted. ASEAN have promised us that they will do everything they can to stop deforestation and war on climate change but so far, the haze is still coming. This only shows one thing, they have failed in their quest to stop climate change. There is only one way. We have to engage in an all out war on climate change.

The reason why there is not much changes is because some countries, like Indonesia, who have a large palm oil industry, are worried how it would affect their GDP. 5 They give excuses that there are just too many loggers over a large area to patrol, but I dug deeper to find the truth.

Here is my plan on Climate Change

Rainforest trees are the lungs of Earth. They release fresh oxygen and absorb the carbon dioxide. But we are burning them down at an alarming rate. Now, not only is harmful smog produced, the trees cannot cope with rising CO2 levels and the temperature of the Earth rises. They may think they have the resources to burn trees for agriculture but that is only in the short term. Contrary to popular beliefs, rainforest land are not very fertile. The nutrients are stored in plants rather than in the soil. When the rain wash away the top layer that were nourished by the plants, there will be nothing left if the trees are no more there.

In the long run, there will not be enough fertile lands and trees to make way for agriculture, creating famine throughout the world. We must harshly crack down the illegal burners.

Recently, the Trump Administration has planned to decrease government’s spending on environmental protection by 31% to 5.6 billion USD. 6 This will be a huge setback in our quest against climate change. Apparently, Trump has increased the budget on military spending with most of the cut from environmental protection. 7 He thinks that fighting with ISIS is more important. Yes, in the short term. But in the long run, humans will soon realize that environment and Mother Nature always comes first. We will have no more resources in the future if we keep using them now. Future humans may not be able to survive for Long.

Hence, I think all countries should use more of their GDP on environmental protection. If they use on military or other purposes now, we will see that Mother Nature will get her revenge on us, by taking away our fossil fuels.

Instead, we should relocate these loggers to fully fledged cities so they would not have to illegally chop down trees and get a decent job. We can also send assistance to these loggers and check on them regularly to make sure they do not go back to their old job.

  1. (Scripps Institute of Oceanography, 2016)
  2. (Source: Five-year global temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2015 by NASA, 2015)
  3. (Source: The Straits Times. Article by Chew Hui Min, 2016)
  4. (Source & Chart: MESAS, 2013)
  5. (Source: Wikipedia, Palm Oil Production In Indonesia.)
  6. (Source: The Atlantic. Article by Robinson Meyer, 2017)
  7. (Source: CNBC. Article by Jeff Daniels, 2017)
Read the article
11 - 14

To light a candle is to cast a shadow

Andrew Chew Yu

Anderson Secondary School

To Light a Candle is to Cast a Shadow.

This photo was taken at Punggol Flyover. The many strokes of lights seen in the picture are light trails formed by the rear and headlights of cars. I decided to title this photograph “To light a candle is to cast a shadow”, a quote by Ursula K. Le Guin. Figuratively, this is to imply that with every car we own and drive, which is the ‘light’ or the ‘candle’, a little more is contributed to climate change through carbon emissions, which in this case is the ‘shadow’. The photograph tells us that there is a dense population of private vehicles in Singapore. This large amount of private cars would very likely contribute a heavy share of carbon emissions in Singapore alone. Through this, I want to shed a little more “light” on the topic of Climate Change through carbon emissions in Singapore, and spread the message that we are paying for our convenience of travel at the expense of climate change. I hope to encourage Singaporeans to take the public transport more often.

11 - 14

Towards Zero

Lamlet's Homeschool

Zheng Ling Lam, Le En Lam

Our eyes have been opened to waste issue in Singapore since our visit to Semakau Landfill on 20/11/15. We learned that an additional 16.7 million cubic metres of landfill capacity was created to meet the waste disposal needs of Singapore to 2035. To handle this growing amount of waste, Singapore is challenged to be innovative in engaging the whole nation to improve the situation. Being a Food Paradise, food wastage accounts for ⅕ of the total waste. We hope that our “Lego movie” would reveal how food products were discarded in their journey from farm to fork to bin. In our narration, we present brief solutions which our nation has adopted; from government to operators to individuals. We hope that Singaporeans will embrace the change in mindset and formation of new habits, to ease this tension and progress towards a Sustainable Singapore.


Watch the video
15 - 18

Climate Change: The Biggest Global Issue of the 21st century

Nanyang Girls' High School

Shae-Lynn Tan, Sheryl-Lynn Tan

The article discusses the importance of climate action and environment conservation to ensure the sustainability of mankind and the environment. It begins by illustrating the characteristics of sustainable cities and how to work towards it. From different standpoints, it addresses the causes and dire consequences of climate change. The article emphasizes the importance of individuals, government and organisations in playing their part in protecting the environment. It presents potential environmentally-friendly solutions, derived from research and reliable sources. Furthermore, it urges mankind to exercise responsible consumption and production and initiate efforts to combat climate change for the sustainability of future generations.

Climate Change: The Biggest Global Issue of the 21st Century

What comes to mind when you hear the word sustainable city? Imagine opening your eyes to see the blue sky, the air so fresh that when you take a deep breath, you caught a whiff of a sweet, earthy scent. As you turn around to find yourself enveloped by lush greenery, buzzing flora and fauna. A sustainable city is a place designed to be environmentally friendly, with reduced emissions. A place free from pollution.

Coming second in the list of sustainable cities on the globe is, our clean and green garden country, Singapore. The step taken by our country in protecting the environment is a role model for countries as it shows the readiness of people in playing their role in saving Mother Earth. While succeeding in being one of the the greenest eco-city, it has high economic success. As countries tend to blame their pollution and emissions on factories that boost their economies, Singapore has shown that it is possible to have a thriving economy while playing its part for the environment. Being fortunate to live in one of the most sustainable city, it made us realise that it is even more important to play our part in conserving the environment.

Fig 1. SINGAPORE is ranked the second most sustainable city in the world. The Sustainable BluePrint reduces emissions and promote climate actions.
Image by Katrin Tochtermann, from

Currently, we must not overlook the dire consequences climate change impacts mankind. Studies showed that global temperature has been increasing by 0.7 degree celsius every century. Based on NASA’s predictions, Earth will face unpredictable temperatures and extreme weathers this century. Through the destruction of habitats, climate change is anticipated to displace 250 million people by 2050.

You may be wondering how this is happening as an average person produces a tiny fraction of carbon emissions. The rapid development of society has led to industrialisation, producing significant amount of carbon dioxide. These greenhouse gases trap heat on Earth’s surface, causing ice caps to melt and rise in sea levels, submerging several low-lying islands. To put the severity of climate change into perspective, the Solomon Island has lost more than 20% of its surface area in 2014 due to rising seas and erosion.

The reality is the detrimental effects of humankind’s folly are prevalent in nature and everyone bear the brunt of climate change. There is an obligation for us to conserve the environment for the protection of humankind in the future. Individuals have to play their part in reducing climate change as empowered individuals have the potential to bring environmental issues to the fore and bring change to the environment.

With the rapid development of globalisation, factory activity output in Singapore has expanded 2.2% since 2016, based on Economic Development Board. Industries are growing at an exponential rate to feed the developing industries of these rising economic giants. This is a pressing and worrying issue as more factories and industries burn more fossil fuels to generate electricity, releasing more carbon dioxide into the air, resulting in greater climate change. Several factories do not value responsible production and dump industrial wastes, as seen from water and air pollution, destroying the environment.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, animal agriculture contributes up to 20% of greenhouse gases emission, caused by deforestation for the expansion of land to grow life stocks and crops. Alarmingly, ruminant animals like cattle release 70-120 kg of methane per year, which has 23 times worse effect on the environment by carbon dioxide.

Fig 2. Waste generated in Singapore rose to 159,000 tonnes in 2016. Zero Waste Singapore promotes responsible production and consumption.
Image by Workforce Development Agency (WDA), from

Fortunately industrial levels and reduce each country's emissions. At home, Singapore pledged to reduce its emission intensity by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030. It is comforting to know that we are initiating climate action towards reducing our carbon footprints, as part of the efforts to tackle climate change.

Last year, Singapore launched ‘The Climate Action Plan’ to achieve a better carbon mitigation plan. In 2017, the government set up the Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme, which are stricter regulations for cars to qualify for green incentives. Above the traditional scheme, this revised plan considers the carbon dioxide levels of vehicle emissions, tackling carbon dioxide emission more effectively, as carbon dioxide contributes 81% of the greenhouse gas emissions, according to Environmental Protection Agency. NEA study states that vehicles produce 30% of global warming emissions so reducing the carbon dioxide levels produced by automobiles will significantly reduce climate change.

Fig 3. Based on NEA study, vehicle produce 30% of global warming emissions. Measures taken to reduce carbon emissions and climate change.
Image by The Straits Times, from

Possible solutions of climate change include reducing the use of fossil fuel for the production of electricity, by using renewable energy alternatives, such as hydroelectricity, solar and biomass. Renewable energy is derived from natural phenomenons so they are replenished constantly, and reduce environmental pollution, improving public health. It is expected for renewable energy sources to supply humanity energy for another 1 billion years.

Moreover, governments can provide incentives for citizens who use environmentally-friendly vehicles, which have less harmful environmental impacts than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. Also, public transport systems such as SMRT can promote the public to use public transport, reducing congestion in the roads and emissions produced from private cars.

As the proverb goes, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” With technology progressing faster than ever, the greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving climate change. We must take the bull by its horns and address the most pressing concerns with mutual cooperation and convergence of responsibility and sustainability to create a better future.

Read the article
15 - 18

The Ball is in Our Hands

Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School (Secondary)

Rachel Tan Ruiting, Ng Wei Qi, Rachel, Alynna Tan, Charmaine Chau

The Ball is in Our Hands

The newspaper ball represents the world we live in now. It is transforming from a world filled with plentiful resources to a world that has become so sick so fragile it is easily crushed in the hands of humans. The pair of hands implies despite our age, race or religion, it is our duty to work together to build a world in which we would be able to sustain our resources for many years to come. In Singapore, we plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while developing initiatives to tackle the effects of climate change. Since there are people who recognise need to change our ways and start protecting the environment, it is important how we spread the message to more people so that everyone can do their part to save the environment. The ball is in our hands. Will we start saving the world now or let the world crumble in our hands? How we change the world from now is up to us.

19 - 21

What now Singapore? Drawing Inspiration From Across The Pacific

Wesley Poh


As Singapore aims to achieve her climate change pledge, where does she look to for inspiration? My submission discusses some observations I made during my recent trip to Vancouver, in terms of encouraging environmentally-friendly transportation, consumption and production patterns, and disposal of waste.

What now Singapore? Drawing Inspiration From Across The Pacific

Having lived in Singapore all my life, I have always thought that we were a pretty ‘green’ country. Now do not get me wrong - I still feel like this is mostly the case. After all, are we not known as the nation that struck a cohesive balance between creating a concrete jungle tempered by refreshing greenery manicured to absolute perfection? From our stunning Marina Barrage to the magnificent Supertrees towering over the skyline, we have clearly punched above our weight in showcasing to the world how far we have come environmentally. And yet, the subtle irony of our success is perhaps we have developed a paradigm where we think of ourselves as greater than and separate from the environment – almost like we as the supreme species are destined to conquer whatever lies in the way of our progress; nature included.

As the reality of climate change becomes more palpable (regardless of whatever alternate facts detractors choose to believe), I remember asking myself earlier this year against the backdrop of our climate pledge how Singapore could move forward environmentally. Would a carbon tax work? The proposed water price hike? More solar panels?


These measures were all comforting in the sense that they were steps in the right direction. Still, I could not shake off the nagging feeling that something about all this felt odd. It was not so much the measures per se, but more so the way these solutions were being suggested and implemented.

A month ago, I finally placed my finger on what was missing:

Engagement. Actual bottom-up engagement.

Let me explain. You see, a month ago, I had the good fortune of visiting Vancouver.

View of Downtown Vancouver

In many ways, Vancouver is a lot like Singapore. Both are moving away from fossil fuels, both have a strong interest in urban greenery and both are committed to creating sustainable communities. As I explored more and more of Vancouver, I came to appreciate how environmental strategies are not one-size-fits-all because the texture of every city is different. With that said, it was refreshing to have a glimpse of what Singapore could work towards to, in terms of encouraging responsible consumption and disposal, improving green transportation and cultivating an understanding that we are not apart from nature, but a part of.

These were some of my key takeaways:

The first thing that hit me as I toured Vancouver was funnily enough, the disposal bins. The prevalence of recycling bins -for paper and plastics- was commendable to say the least. Sorting of wastes has somewhat become the norm, for there was no general waste chute to throw your trash in. Next, quite a few shops and grocery outlets encouraged consumers to bring their own bags or provided paper ones for a small charge. This involvement was invigorating because of how natural this practice took root.

Vancouver is known for her strong coffee culture - but this does not get in the way of environmental friendliness. Most beverage cups and food packs I encountered were made of biodegradable packaging, with relatively few businesses opting to use plastic or styrofoam packaging. Singapore has made huge steps in this aspect, slowly phasing out styrofoam containers and should continue to keep up the good work.

Speaking of packaging, I vividly recall dropping by the produce section of many supermarkets and being amazed at how minimal the packaging was for fruits and vegetables (something I know Singapore has recently been working to cutting down!)

In terms of responsible consumption, it was fascinating how consumers were more involved in what they were buying food-wise, opting for ethically-sourced fruits, coffee, cheese and the like. In that sense, business that were environmentally sustainable were rewarded for their focus and it really does go to show how consumers can gradually catalyse change through their dollar vote.

Inside Granville Market

On another note, I was particularly impressed with Granville Island, an outstanding example of the need for pedestrian-centric, urban spaces to bring communities together in the way they shop, market and play. It reminded me vaguely of Tiong Bahru and Bugis, which was amusing indeed.

The second aspect which really struck me was transportation. Vancouver has lots of cyclists and pay-to-ride bikes. And the bikes are all in pretty good shape. One might argue that the weather in Vancouver is a lot more conducive for cycling than in our sweltering Singapore. Still, it was cool to see how cycling culture was so ingrained in some of the locals that they even pedalled in the rain!

Electric and hybrid cars were also common in Vancouver, with some of the public buses running entirely on electricity. There were also numerous charging stations downtown, which was a nice sight to behold seeing that Singapore may choose to follow suit by increasing the number of car charging facilities locally.

Finally, what I saw in Vancouver that I feel was the most important aspect in driving environmental success is the understanding amongst the locals that they belong to nature - that nature is central to their identity and should be cherished. It certainly does help that Vancouver is nestled amongst gorgeous temperate forests, bounded by breath-taking mountains and that Canada in general has majestic scenery and wildlife. Because they feel that nature is integral to who they are, this sense of ownership drives the country to find real meaning in their efforts to combat climate change. It is not the far-fetched polar bears they think of when they hear about sea levels rising, but the grizzly bears and elks that flourish just outside the city.

Stunning Canada!

They understand. They relate.

And so, they act.

What then, does this mean for my beloved home Singapore? It means we must rethink how we go about living our lives. It means we must reflect on the way we produce and consume. Most importantly, it means that you and I must get in touch with what it means to be an inhabitant of this earth - the time is now.

Read the article
19 - 21 Special Mention

Global Warming: Together We Can

Singapore Polytechnic

Raye Soh, Hanna Looi

Global Warming is a problem that future generations will face if we do not do something about it now. With every second, more carbon dioxide is produced and Mother Earth faces extremely detrimental effects such as; melting of polar ice caps, acidic oceans, higher extinction rates and severe weathers, etc. This video serves as a reminder of how human activity has adversely impacted our dear Earth, and it reminds viewers that climate action is necessary to prevent this issue from aggravating. With every little step taken, with every helping hand given, our people can slow down the rate Global Warming and prevent this outcome. It is that simple if we all decide to play our part and promote climate action. Together we can save our world.


Watch the video