Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at EuroCham’s Sustainability Awards on 17 November 2020
Mrs Ursula Von de Leyen, President of the European Commission,
Mr Federico Donato, President of EuroCham,
Ambassador Barbara Plinkert,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 A very good afternoon to all. I thank the European Chamber of Commerce (or EuroCham) for inviting me to speak at today’s seminar.
2 Singapore and the European Union (EU) are important trade and investment partners. The inclusion of strong rules on sustainable development in the landmark EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) confirms that we share common goals to protect the environment. Singapore anticipates and welcomes further partnership with the EU to green our economies together.
3 I commend the EuroCham for embracing sustainability as your focus this year. Singapore is similarly committed to put sustainability at the core of everything we do. This is underscored by the renaming of my Ministry this year. Even as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to press ahead with our plans to understand, mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to realise our vision for a climate-resilient and sustainable Singapore.
Understanding, mitigating and adapting
4 Let me share some of our key efforts this year. To better understand how climate change will impact Singapore, we launched our Climate Science Research Programme Office earlier this month. The Programme Office will drive the formulation and implementation of our National Climate Science Research Masterplan, and help ensure our climate policies are supported by robust science. The Programme Office will oversee research grant programmes such as the S$10 million National Sea Level Programme.
5 To play our part to mitigate climate change, we have sought to green our energy sources, and to look at how we produce, consume and manage energy. Last month, the Government announced that we have set aside about S$50 million to fund low-carbon energy research and test-bed efforts in hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage solutions. We are also working to accelerate our adoption of solar energy, which is the most viable source of renewable energy for Singapore. We plan to achieve 1.5 gigawatt peak (GWp) of solar deployment by 2025. This is equivalent to powering about 260,000 households a year, meeting about 2 per cent of Singapore’s total electricity needs.
6 To adapt to climate change, we will ensure Singapore’s critical resources, such as food and water, will remain uncompromised for both our present and future generations. On water, we have developed our four national taps approach to ensure water supply resilience, and we are striving to integrate green technology with water treatment. In August, we started the construction of a large-scale floating solar PV system at Tengeh Reservoir, which will generate enough clean energy to power our local water treatment plants.
7 On food, we announced our goal last year to increase local food production to meet 30 per cent of our nutritional needs by 2030, in order to strengthen our food security. In September this year, we accelerated the ramp up in local food production with the award of close to S$40 million of funding to support the growth of our local agri-food enterprises.
8 We are also pursuing circular economy approaches and working to become a zero-waste nation. We will mandate key responsibilities to enable the reusing and recycling of food, e-waste and packaging, and support the localisation of our recycling capabilities. We are pushing boundaries to turn our trash into treasure by transforming waste treatment residue into construction materials (or NEWSand), and discarded plastics into higher value products like pyrolysis oil (or NEWOil). Last month, we announced that the National Environment Agency and Shell are jointly studying the feasibility of chemically recycling plastic waste in Singapore.
9 These are just some examples of what the Singapore Government is doing to pursue sustainability. But our efforts alone will not be enough. Fighting climate change and successfully transiting to a low-carbon future will require a concerted effort not just locally, but also globally. We need businesses and organisations to come on board this journey, to make sustainability a part of our everyday lives.
Companies leading in sustainability initiatives
10 The EuroCham Sustainability Award nominees have embarked on this journey already, giving them a head start. Specialty chemicals company Evonik Industries has invested in research on resource efficiency, and is increasingly tapped on to support the development of resource-saving applications that help its customers achieve their sustainability goals. It has embarked on research-based partnerships across Southeast Asia, including with the Housing Development Board in Singapore.
11 In the area of green finance, ING Wholesale Banking is making an impact by financing renewable energy projects. Earlier this year, it provided Singapore-based solar energy systems provider Cleantech Solar a US$75 million green loan to support its expansion across Southeast Asia. Cleantech Solar’s projects will benefit local and multinational corporates across the region with reliable and long-term clean energy solutions. ING is also working with its clients to facilitate their transition to become more sustainable, and measuring and steering its lending portfolio to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate goal.
12 Let me conclude by congratulating all the recipients of the EuroCham Sustainability Awards. You demonstrate that all of us, regardless of the sector we are in, have the power to make a positive difference in fighting climate change. I hope that your efforts and achievements will inspire many other organisations to join us in this journey towards sustainability. Singapore looks forward to deepening our collaboration with the EU, EU member states and European entities towards our common goal of fostering sustainability and building a better environment for our people.
13 Thank you.