Keynote Address by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (Amcham)’s Balestier Series held on 29 October 2020
Ms Lisa Liaw, Chair of the Board of Governors of AmCham Singapore
Dr Hsien-Hsien Lei, CEO of AmCham
Ladies and Gentlemen
1 A very good afternoon to everyone. I thank AmCham for inviting me to address you today.
FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE MUST CONTINUE
2 Earlier this month, climate scientists from Europe reported that 2020 could be the world’s hottest year on record, as September temperatures reached 0.63 deg C above a 30-year historical average. The warming effects of climate change are being felt around the world — the Arctic sea ice is declining at an increasing rate, while countries such as Australia and the United States have witnessed large areas ravaged by devastating wildfires.
3 These statistics and events are grim reminders that even as we focus our efforts on overcoming and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must sustain our efforts in the fight against climate change, which poses existential challenges.
4 In Singapore, we remain committed to doing our part to mitigate climate action, on national, regional and global fronts. In March this year, we submitted our enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and long-term low-emissions development strategy to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Under Singapore’s enhanced climate pledge, we target to peak emissions at 65 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) around 2030. We also aspire to halve our emissions from its peak to 33MtCO2e by 2050, with a view to achieving net zero emissions as soon as viable in the second half of the century. These are challenging and ambitious goals for Singapore. They demonstrate our firm commitment to supporting global climate action and a low-carbon future.
THE SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT’S EFFORTS
5 During his Ministerial statement in Parliament earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat spoke on the importance of environmental sustainability and highlighted that investing in sustainability can open up new business opportunities. Indeed, the Singapore Government is committed to push for a green recovery. We are putting in place energy efficiency schemes to help our companies transform to be best-in-class globally in energy and carbon efficiency. We are also partnering the industry and research community to study the feasibility of low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), and the use of low-carbon hydrogen. We are on track to meet our solar target of at least 2 Gigawatt Peak by 2030, by maximising solar deployment and investing in innovative solutions such as floating solar photovoltaic systems on our reservoirs.
6 We will invest heavily in research and development for climate action. As part of these efforts, we have launched a S$10 million National Sea Level Programme to develop more robust projections of sea level rise. A Climate Science Research Programme Office will be set up this year to drive efforts to formulate Singapore’s national climate science research masterplan. We have also set aside dedicated resources in the Coastal and Flood Protection Fund to fund infrastructures that protect Singapore against rising sea levels.
7 We know that climate change will affect access to critical resources, including water and food. This is why we continue to strengthen our water and food security, by investing in weather-resilient sources, and to find ways to produce more with less. We will also work with the community, industry partners and stakeholders to better manage Singapore’s key waste streams and pursue a circular economy approach.
8 These efforts to build a climate-resilient and sustainable Singapore will not only benefit the environment, but also open up new areas of growth in related sectors and create new and upgraded jobs for Singaporeans.
HOW BUSINESSES CAN CONTRIBUTE
9 Businesses can play an important role in fighting climate change too. Let me share three ways in which companies can lower your carbon footprint and pursue sustainable growth.
10 First, businesses can be agents of change and lead industries towards sustainable business practices. Some U.S. companies are charting the way by setting ambitious targets for carbon emissions. These targets are in turn causing ripple effects within their industries and the downstream businesses. Google and the Alphabet Group is one such example, creating demand for green data centres and clean energy with their target to operate on carbon-free energy, 24/7, by 2030.
11 Second, businesses can adopt a circular approach towards business processes and ‘close the loop’ with each product group, for example by harnessing the waste or by-product of a process as a resource or raw material for another process. An example would be the recent collaboration between Dow and Sport Singapore (SportSG). They plan to recycle 300,000 pairs of used sports shoes to build jogging tracks, fitness corners and playgrounds. The rubberised soles and midsoles of the shoes will be ground up into rubber granules, and bounded together using water-based and solvent-free binder technology, creating environmentally friendly materials that are safe for sports. This project demonstrates how we can harness the value of our resources so that we waste less, and use wisely.
12 Third, partnerships in collective sustainable efforts will allow companies to reap economies of scale, and facilitate knowledge sharing that could improve operations and processes. One example in Singapore is the formation of the F&B Sustainability Council to address environmental issues in the industry. The Council held its first meeting earlier this year, where local F&B operators discussed green solutions, including the idea of pooling food waste across different F&B premises for treatment in a central digester.
13 Let me conclude. Singapore has always strived to turn our challenges into opportunities, and our limitations into a competitive edge. A good demonstration of this is how we have developed a robust and diversified supply of water through early and consistent investments in water infrastructure and research, despite being one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. Food and energy will be the next frontier of our efforts in sustainability. We will plan ahead, invest in research and development, open up spaces through policy sandboxes and innovations, and collaborate with 3P (People, Private and Public) partners.
14 I thank AmCham members for embarking on sustainability initiatives, and look forward to your continued support as we pursue a smooth transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.
15 Thank you and I look forward to our discussions.