At the same time, youth themselves must do more too. True, around 60 per cent of our national emissions are industrial, but that should not excuse individuals from also holding themselves to higher standards.

According to the inaugural OCBC Climate Index released earlier this year, based on an online survey of 2,000 Singaporeans aged 18 to 65, 43 per cent of Gen Z respondents used air conditioning at home for more than seven hours a day – the highest proportion amongst all age groups. Separately, 77 per cent of millennial respondents drove a medium or large vehicle.

Instead of feeling paralysed by the climate-driven moral dilemma of having kids, those who have children could commit themselves to far greener standards in their everyday lives.

Cut down on air travel and private transport, consume less red meat, give up the air-con in favour of fans and natural ventilation, stop indulging in unnecessary flash sale purchases, and pay for eco-friendly products even if they cost more.

While such actions may only slightly tilt the scales against a deteriorating world, they can grant us the assurance we are doing the best we can for those we brought into that world, and the confidence that our lives are ones where words match deeds.

We can take comfort in the knowledge that we are upholding our responsibility to set good examples for our children, and are contributing to a virtuous cycle of environmental consciousness when they start to model our behaviour.

However we decide to ease the moral dilemma, the clock will continue to tick – for the world to tackle the climate emergency, and for us to decide if we want to have kids. For us young people, and the lives we may create, this will be a decisive decade indeed.

Ng Chia Wee will begin his final year of undergraduate education at the National University of Singapore’s Philosophy, Politics and Economics Programme next January, and is part of the social mobility non-profit organisation Access.



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