Opening Speech at the Dentons Rodyk Dialogue - Ms Grace Fu
Opening Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister For Sustainability And The Environment, at the Dentons Rodyk Dialogue – Sustainability And Innovation For A More Resilient Future, On 27 October 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning everyone. I am pleased to join you today for the Dentons Rodyk Dialogue. This year's theme of sustainability and innovation is most apt, as governments and businesses seek to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and transit towards a low-carbon future to combat climate change.
2 Climate change is an existential threat to the world and its impacts are far reaching and irreversible. The latest IPCC report warns of increased levels of warming, global precipitation, and sea level rise by 2100. Two weeks ago, the World Health Organisation released a report urging countries at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (or COP26) to take significant and decisive steps to reduce global warming and save millions of lives.
3 The message is clear. If we do not act now, global temperatures will exceed 2.0°C in this century and the security of our future generations will be at stake. Being a low-lying island in the tropics, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise. Extreme weather conditions can also disrupt our supply of essential resources such as food and water. Singapore must take action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and put sustainability at the core of everything we do.
Charting goals in sustainability
4 While Singapore faces unique challenges in sustainable development because of our land and resource constraints, we see these challenges as opportunities. Take our water supply as an example. Singapore is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. Through investments in technologies, we are now able to recycle every drop of water and close our water loop. Even so, we continue to push frontiers to reduce energy intensity and carbon emissions from water recycling, and are looking into biomimetic membranes to improve NEWater recovery with no increase in energy consumption. Our National Water Agency, PUB, has also worked with Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore to open one of the world's largest inland floating solar PV systems at the Tengeh Reservoir to make our water treatment system fully green.
5 To advance our national agenda on sustainable development, the Government launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 earlier this year. The Green Plan charts ambitious and concrete targets over the next 10 years, positioning us to achieve net-zero emissions as soon as viable. The public service will lead by example. Under the GreenGov.SG sustainability movement, the public service has set a target to peak carbon emissions around 2025, ahead of the national target. It will also implement green procurement practices and build a culture of sustainability amongst officers.
6 One of the key areas of work under the Green Plan is to seize new growth opportunities from sustainability. The Government will drive sustainability efforts by transforming existing sectors and investing in new technologies for a low-carbon economy, such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage, hydrogen, and other emerging pathways for decarbonisation. To support this, the Government has awarded S$55 million under the Low-Carbon Energy Research Funding Initiative to support 12 research, development, and demonstration projects on low-carbon energy technologies. Earlier this week, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) announced that it will be issuing requests for proposals, starting from November 2021, to import up to four giga-watts of low-carbon electricity, which will constitute about 30 per cent of our electricity supply by 2035. EMA, in partnership with JTC and Enterprise Singapore, has also jointly launched a $6 million open call to accelerate the development of clean energy innovations for implementation on Jurong Island.
Global effort needed in fighting climate change
7 The next few weeks will be a crucial period for the world's future, with the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26, just days away. We need more countries to submit their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and Long-Term Low-Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS), backed by concrete action plans. Singapore has been working closely with the UK COP26 President-designate and all Parties to achieve the best possible outcomes at COP26. As co-facilitator of Ministerial negotiations on Article 6, I look forward to advancing our work in this important area. Securing international consensus on Article 6 will provide a common framework for carbon markets, allowing nations to be more ambitious in their climate action whilst also promoting sustainable growth and environmental integrity.
8 Singapore is also working with our neighbours on building capability and pathfinding new approaches to sustainability. Under the Lao-Thailand-Malaysia Singapore Power Integration Project, we initiated cross-border energy trade of 100 megawatts, tapping on the abundance of hydropower power and other renewable energies that our neighbours have. We offer capacity-building support to fellow ASEAN Member States (AMS) under the Singapore Cooperation Programme, in areas such as climate science, climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, and implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Partnership and support to go green and sustainable
9 Businesses, too, will have to adapt to climate change. Climate action will cause some industries to fade away and new ones to emerge in their place. In an increasingly carbon and resource constrained world, the ability to operate and produce sustainably will be a key attribute of successful enterprises. Private enterprises must embrace the ESG imperatives of Environmental, Social and Governance within their business practices or risk falling short of their stakeholder's expectations.
10 The Government is supporting efforts by companies to embed sustainability practices in their operations. There are grants that companies may tap on, such as the National Environment Agency's Energy Efficiency Fund and the 3R Fund, to help them be more resource efficient. This month, Enterprise Singapore also launched the Enterprise Sustainability Programme (ESP) to support Singapore businesses on sustainability initiatives, and to capture new opportunities in the green economy. The programme sets aside up to S$180 million to benefit at least 6,000 enterprises over the next four years. Last week, our National Water Agency, PUB launched a $6.5 million "Carbon Zero Grand Challenge" to seek innovative carbon sequestration and utilisation solutions that can be integrated with its operations. The goal is to help PUB achieve its net-zero goals by mid-century and scale to water facilities around the world.
11 The Government is also facilitating green financing development. The Green and Sustainability-Linked Loan Grant Scheme (GSLS) was launched last year to support companies and SMEs to obtain green financing. The Sustainable Bond Grant Scheme (SBGS) was enhanced as well to help companies defray the cost of issuing green, social, sustainability and sustainability-linked bonds that are aligned with international standards.
12 To conclude, the effects of climate change demands that we embed sustainability into our DNA to ensure that we are able to thrive in the future. I thank all companies for the progress made in sustainability and encourage everyone to continue to look into ways to improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions and adopt circular economy approaches.
13 The Government will continue to help our businesses seize opportunities in the green economy. Together, we can build a more sustainable Singapore for the future.