Speech by Minister Grace Fu: The Singapore Green Plan - A Pledge to Our Children and Future Generations
Joint segment on Sustainability at MSE's COS Debates 2021 – Opening Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
The Singapore Green Plan: A Pledge to Our Children and Future Generations ` 1 With your permission, Mr Chairman, may I ask the Clerks to distribute the factsheets and infographics?
2 Mr Chairman, SM Teo has set out the principles that guide Singapore's response to climate change, taking into account our challenges, and the opportunities before us.
CLIMATE CHANGE – DEFINING OUR GENERATION
3 Climate change is one of the gravest threats facing mankind and Singapore. What is at stake is the survival and future of our small island state. One or two more degrees Celsius increase may not sound like much but if sea level rises a few metres, our sunny island could literally be in the sea. Climate change could also threaten our food and water supply. We have to take climate change seriously, study its impact and start preparing ourselves now. We have to develop a long-term climate action plan to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. This plan will span several generations to protect Singapore and our children.
4 This was why PM spoke at length about climate change during his 2019 National Day Rally. I quote: "Both the SAF and climate change defences are existential for Singapore. These are life and death matters. Everything else must bend at the knee to safeguard the existence of our island nation." We must take climate change seriously. The Government is fully committed to take decisive action to mitigate climate change, and adapt to its impact.
5 Last month, following a six-hour debate on a motion tabled by 6 PAP members after extensive engagements by the Young PAP, this House passed a motion to acknowledge climate change as a global emergency and a threat to mankind. I was most encouraged by the passion and concerns shown.
6 But our efforts alone will not turn the tide. Climate action requires urgent, collective and coordinated efforts by all countries, big and small. We have been working actively within ASEAN and the broader international community to deliver a global response to climate change, and contribute to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
7 Sir, the course of human history has been shaped by innovation and discovery, and we are on the cusp of yet another revolution today – a global sustainability revolution. Just as the invention of the steam engine and discovery of fossil fuels propelled us into the industrial age, the energy transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy will redefine how we power the global economy. This revolution will be driven by policy makers, consumers, inventors and investors who recognise the opportunities that will arise from a circular, low-carbon economy. We must catch and ride this new global wave of sustainability. Many MNCs are putting ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) considerations at the core of their business and investment decisions. I am happy that companies like Temasek are strongly committed to sustainability, embedding it in both their operations and investment approach. Singapore is well-positioned. We are not starting from scratch. Since independence, instead of pursuing growth at all costs, we have insisted on quality, inclusive and sustainable growth. Each generation of Singaporeans must see ourselves as stewards of our nation. We must pass on a better Singapore to the generations of Singaporeans that will come after us, just as the previous generations have done for us. We must build on our past achievements, strive to overcome our present limitations, and pioneer new solutions for a more sustainable future.
THE GREEN PLAN – A SUSTAINABILITY AGENDA TO RALLY THE NATION
8 Getting to that future will be a whole-of-nation effort, requiring every government agency, individual, business, research institution, community group and civil society organisation to work in unison. Sustainability is not an isolated programme or initiative, but about engineering a whole system and cultivating a new way of life. Each challenge and its associated solution will impact on another. This requires hard trade-offs to be made, and close coordination in execution.
9 This is the purpose of the Singapore Green Plan 2030. It is a commitment of this PAP Government to our present and future generations; to chart a common vision for a sustainable future and a roadmap for everyone. Through the Green Plan, sustainability will shape our economy, our infrastructure, our way of life. It will fundamentally change how we live, work, and play. The Government will set the broad policy direction and the public sector will lead the change. Through the GreenGov.SG initiative, it will exemplify sustainability in its actions, and lead market demand for sustainable products and services.
10 More importantly, we want the Green Plan to spark a national conversation and energise Singaporeans to take action. Every Singaporean must be involved in this transformation because: First, sustainability is not costless. Just as we pay for our security and social services, we will have to pay a bit more for greener goods and services, adjust to less convenience in our daily lives, or reskill for green jobs in new industries. We cannot incur these costs without a national consensus. Second, while climate change may feel abstract for individuals, it is our individual actions that determine the collective outcome. For example, if every household in Singapore raises the aircon temperature by one degree, we will cut carbon emissions by 23 kilo-tonnes, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions from 7,000 cars. Our consumption patterns drive industry. If we avoid disposables, buy locally produced food, and prefer energy-efficient appliances, greener and more sustainable business models will emerge.Third, we are excited about the new business opportunities that the sustainability sector can bring that will benefit Singapore and Singaporeans.
11 The Green Plan will also contribute to the international sustainability agenda and global climate goals. The Green Plan will lay out our priorities for collaboration with our international stakeholders. It is in our interest, and that of the world, to catalyse the development of green solutions, such as green hydrogen, and carbon capture, utilisation and storage. We are well placed to contribute to the global effort. As a living lab, where new solutions can be test-bedded and exported to the region and beyond. And as a financial hub and talent hub, where green capital can find common objectives with skilled entrepreneurs and workers. This will allow us to pace our green transition correctly and stay in sync with the global trajectory. So that we do not move too hastily and hurt our economic competitiveness and the livelihoods of Singaporeans, or move too slowly and get left behind.
12 Some have asked if the Green Plan is just a compilation of existing initiatives? Madam, it is not. The Green Plan is a long-term and living plan that will evolve as we go along. We will update our targets and strategies as new technologies and practicable solutions avail themselves. The Green Plan is also not just an MSE or even a government plan, but a blueprint that we have set out for ourselves as a nation, and therefore, we have six other ministers speaking on it. Everyone must work together to achieve our vision. While some targets are existing, new and enhanced targets have been included. Even in areas where targets remain the same, we are putting in place comprehensive and concrete near-to-medium term plans to achieve our targets.
13 The Green Plan positions us to achieve our goal of net zero emissions as soon as viable. Beyond the specific mitigation strategies, it envisions a new future where sustainability is embedded in our DNA.
14 Sir, our targets and strategies are both ambitious and credible. Climate change is a global emergency. Our efforts alone will not turn the tide. Singapore contributes only around 0.1% of global emissions. But if we can succeed in our plans, we will show the world how a small country with severe constraints is nevertheless able to take bold action, and pave the way for other countries to adopt new solutions.
THE FIVE PILLARS OF THE GREEN PLAN
15 Let me now give an overview of the Green Plan.
16 There are five pillars — City in Nature, Sustainable Living, Energy Reset, Green Economy and Resilient Future. They represent the priority areas in our sustainable development over the next decade. The first pillar on City in Nature seeks to create a green, liveable, and sustainable home for Singaporeans. Minister Desmond Lee will talk about our efforts to infuse nature into our urban fabric. Sustainable Living is our second pillar. Conserving resources must become our way of life – consume less, recycle more, and take public transport. Minister Lawrence Wong will share how we will nurture future generations to be more environmentally conscious. Minister Ong Ye Kung will speak about greening our commutes at MOT's COS. I will elaborate on our transition towards a zero-waste nation. To lower our carbon footprint, we will need to employ cleaner energy, and use it more efficiently. This is our third pillar, Energy Reset. Minister Tan See Leng will speak on plans to make our energy and power systems cleaner and more efficient. Minister Desmond Lee will share how we will make our built environment and urban spaces more sustainable, and Minister Ong Ye Kung will make the case for electric vehicles. Sustainability can be a new engine of jobs and growth as we pivot towards a Green Economy , the fourth pillar. Minister Chan Chun Sing will share how we will help our enterprises seize new opportunities in sustainability and prepare Singaporeans to take on green jobs. With our position as the regional financial and services hub, carbon services and green financing will be new areas of growth. Finally, we must adapt to climate change to ensure Singapore's long-term survival. This is what the fifth pillar of the Green Plan is about — building a Resilient Future.
BUILDING A RESILIENT FUTURE
17 Let me speak on three aspects of the Resilient Future pillar. Additional details will be shared at MSE's COS. First, coastal defence, which Ms Poh Li San asked about. PUB, as the lead Coastal Protection Agency, will work with other agencies to conduct site-specific studies, and develop coastal adaptation pathways and protection measures that are adaptive to climate uncertainties. We target to complete the formulation of adaptation pathways at coastlines along City-East Coast, Lim Chu Kang, Sungei Kadut, and around Jurong Island by 2030. ** **
18 Second, keeping Singapore cool in a warming world. According to the Meteorological Service Singapore, it is almost 1 degree Celsius hotter today than in the 1950s. Apart from global warming, it is also driven by the Urban Heat Island (or UHI) effect — a phenomenon where an urbanised area is warmer than its surroundings because of the built environment and increased human activities. The UHI effect is a complex topic that requires in-depth studies.We will chart a science-based roadmap to holistically and decisively moderate temperature rise in Singapore.
19 Third, strengthening Singapore's food security by growing local in a resource-efficient way. With climate change bringing about widespread extreme weather events, and soaring global demand for food, the global food market will be more volatile and unpredictable. This is a critical risk for Singapore as we import over 90% of our food supply. In 2019, we announced our "30 by 30" goal to produce 30% of our nutritional needs locally by 2030. We will do so with a keen eye on energy, water and land efficiency. This complements our other strategies of diversifying import sources and growing food overseas to strengthen food security. To support the agri-food sector, we will make available space and infrastructure, ramp up funding support to build R&D capability, and provide incentives for conventional farms to adopt technology to transform into highly productive, climate-resilient, and resource-efficient farms.
ENABLING A 3P APPROACH TO THE GREEN PLAN
20 While the five Pillars of the Green Plan will map the way forward, the public, private, and people sectors must come together for us to succeed, as Ms Hany Soh highlighted.
Public Sector - GreenGov.SG
21 The public service will lead on sustainability as part of the GreenGov.SG initiative which DPM announced in his Budget Speech. We will execute shifts in four areas.
22 First, we will set more ambitious goals for the public service, including a carbon target for the first time.We aim to peak the public sector's emissions around 2025, ahead of the national target of around 2030.
23 Second, we will expand the scope of GreenGov.SG beyond Government offices, to include other public sector infrastructure and operations. GreenGov.SG will encompass a far wider array of assets to include waste-to-energy plants, public transport infrastructure, hawker centres and healthcare facilities. With this expanded scope, the public sector will take on a greater responsibility to enhance the sustainability of our operations.
24 Third, we will embed sustainability practices in the public sector's core business areas and influence our service providers and suppliers to be more sustainable. One key tool is in green procurement. As a major consumer of goods and services, the public sector can and will influence the industry towards sustainable business choices and practices by incorporating more sustainability requirements in our procurement framework.
25 Fourth, we will build an organisational culture of sustainability and grow the movement amongst public service officers.
26 More details on GreenGov.SG will be released over the course of the year.
Private Sector - Green Companies
27 Besides the public sector, the private sector plays a critical role in the Green Plan, as Ms Janet Ang pointed out. We will support companies in their sustainability journey through the Green Economy Pillar. They can both do well and do good, particularly as consumers and investors increasingly prioritise sustainability.
28 This includes working with our researchers and companies to develop new solutions that push the frontiers on sustainability, such as through the Research Innovation and Enterprise (or RIE) 2025 plan.
People Sector - A Green Citizenry
29 As part of Singapore Together and to involve every Singaporean in the movement, as Ms Hany Soh and Ms Cheryl Chan have highlighted, the Government will launch a series of Green Plan Conversations. This is part of our efforts to partner, encourage, and support ground-up efforts and catalyse new partnerships. Projects in line with the Green Plan, and Alliances for Action will be launched in the coming months.
30 Through the $50 million SG Eco Fund, we will also support ground-up projects that involve the community and advance environmental sustainability. Ms Hany Soh asked about the current progress of the fund. The first grant call saw overwhelming interest with over 200 applications received, in areas like waste management and urban farming. We are evaluating the proposals and I look forward to sharing about them in the coming months.
31 Madam Chairperson, in Malay please.
32 Perubahan iklim menimbulkan ancaman besar kepada Singapura. Tahun lalu adalah antara tahun yang paling panas, dengan kerap terjadinya hujan yang lebat. Kita perlu melakukan transformasi meluas yang merangkumisemua aspek kehidupan, dan bekerjasama untuk menangani perubahan iklim.
33 Untuk melakar jalan menuju masa depan yang mampan, pihak pemerintah telah melancarkan Pelan Hijau Singapura 2030, untuk tindakan seluruh negara.
34 Semua orang, tanpa mengira usia, bangsa dan latar belakang, boleh dan mesti memainkan peranan. Sebagai individu, kita dapat mengubah tabiat harian, dengan mengurangkan penggunaan dan pembaziran sumber, lebih kerap mengitar semula, menaiki pengangkutan awam sejauh yang boleh, atau meningkatkan suhu alat penghawa dingin dengan satu darjah.Bagi perniagaan, kita dapat mengurangkan penggunaan bahan pembungkusan, menjadikan proses pengilangan cekap tenaga dan air, dan mengitar semula bahan sisa kita dengan lebih baik, untuk dijadikan sumber yang berguna.
35 Sektor awam akan memacu usaha seluruh negara ke arah kemampanan, misalnya melalui perolehan hijau.
36 Masa depan anak-anak kita bergantung pada apa yang kita lakukan hari ini demi memelihara sumber kita dan melindungi bumi.
37 Marilah kita bekerjasama untuk menjadikan Singapura sebagai Sebuah Negara Kaya Peluang Hijau.
38 In Mandarin, please.
40 为规划新加坡的永续发展，政府上个月推出了 "2030年新加坡绿色发展蓝图" (Singapore Green Plan 2030)，呼吁全国采取气候行动。
41 每一位国人，不论年龄、种族或背景，都可以尽一份力，也必须尽一份力。在个人层面，我们可以调整日常生活习惯，减少资源的消耗和浪费，更积极地回收资源，如选择乘搭公共交通工具，或将冷气机温度调高一度。 就企业而言， 我们可以减少包装材料，采用节能节水的生产流程，将我们的废弃物更好地回收和再循环。
43 本着 "群策群力、共创未来" 的精神， 我们将通过对话和其他渠道， 汇聚和采纳国人和企业的建议和想法，以丰富"绿色发展蓝图"。我们也会依据新科技的推出，调整策略和目标。
SOLEMN PLEDGE TO OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS
47 Mdm Chairman, Sir, let me conclude. A few months ago, I was struck by a question from my son. He asked if I would still have had children, given how our planet is struggling to support a growing population, with the daunting challenges that climate change will pose. For him and his generation, the question is not hypothetical. My reply to him was an "absolutely yes!". Because I believe that humanity has the wisdom and ingenuity, and the collective will to find solutions to combat global warming.
48 The Green Plan is a solemn pledge to future generations of Singaporeans that there will always be a Singapore, come 30, 50 or even a hundred years from now: a shining jewel in the oceans. If we work together. We will face many grave threats, but we will transform challenges into opportunities. This is the Singapore DNA. We will take bold and collective action to create a sustainable and liveable home. This is a pledge that Singaporeans today must keep, to give our children the confidence to pursue their dreams, raise their families with hope and optimism and look forward to a brighter, better future.
49 Mdm, climate change must not be exacerbated on our watch. Let us make the right choice today, so that our children and grandchildren can look back and be proud of the direction we have set. Together, let us work to make Singapore a City of Green Possibilities.