Climate change could force 745,000 Singaporeans underwater

Romesh NavaratnarajahNovember 9, 2015

Haze in Singapore

UPDATE: Rising sea levels could have disastrous effects on coastal cities around the world, including Singapore, according to results published by Climate Central.

The report detailed the implications of different global warming scenarios of 1.5, 2, 3 and 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, and found that carbon emissions causing 4°C of warming – a business-as-usual scenario – could cause Singapore’s median local sea level to rise 9.5 metres, submerging the homes of 745,000 Singaporeans. This number is based on the 2010 population figure of 4.68 million.

Even if carbon emissions were cut, resulting in the proposed international target of 2°C warming, there would still be 101,000 Singaporeans affected, with the median local sea level projected to rise 5.1 metres.

China, the world’s leading carbon emitter, leads the world in coastal risk, with 145 million people threatened by rising seas if emission levels are not reduced.

Global megacities with the top-10 largest threatened populations include Shanghai, Hong Kong, Calcutta, Mumbai, Dhaka, Jakarta, and Hanoi.


Photo showing the potential effects of rising sea levels in Shanghai

Shanghai under water

Source: Climate Central

In a statement, Climate Central said: “Carbon emissions this century can lock in these projected threats, but the associated sea level rise is expected to play out over a longer period, likely centuries.”

The report also featured a new interactive tool called Mapping Choices, which allows users to explore the possible consequences of 4°C and 2°C warming for global cities.

For Singapore, the map showed that areas around Marina Bay, Changi Airport, Jurong, Tuas, and the Southern Islands are at risk of going underwater if temperatures rise, even by 2°C.


Map showing which areas in Singapore at at risk from global warming (in light blue)

Map of Singapore

Source: Climate Central

The report did not consider present or future shoreline defenses that might be built, such as levees, future population growth, decline or relocation.

The findings raise serious questions about sustainable environmental practices, especially with the recent haze crisis badly affecting Singapore and other regional countries for almost three months.

In a statement to PropertyGuru, the National Climate Change Secretariat of the Prime Minister’s Office, said: “Results from the Second National Climate Change Study conducted by the Meteorological Service Singapore’s (MSS) Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS) and the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre, has projected a mean sea level rise of between 0.25 and 0.76 metres by 2070 to 2099 (compared to 1980 to 2009) for the region, centred around Singapore.  Even under the a global scenario where no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the study projects a total rise of 0.45 to 1.02 metres by the year 2100.

“To cater for long-term sea level rise, the minimum land reclamation level in Singapore was hence raised from three to four metres above the mean sea level in 2011. In addition, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is conducting a Coastal Adaptation Study, to assess and review Singapore’s long-term coastal protection needs and develop strategies to address them. This study will be completed by 2017.”

Meanwhile, a new round of major global climate talks will take place in Paris this December. Decisions reached there are likely to have a strong bearing on the scenarios raised in the Climate Central report.

To read the full report, visit:


Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories email


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