SPEECH BY MS GRACE FU, MINISTER FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AT THE CAPITALAND SUSTAINABILITY X CHALLENGE GRAND FINALE ON 11 JUNE 2021
Mr Miguel Ko, Chairman, CapitaLand Limited
Mr Lee Chee Koon, Group CEO, CapitaLand
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to join you today.
2 Like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change poses an existential threat to our lives and livelihoods. The signs are clear. The global average temperature in 2020 was reported to be 1.2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. 2019 also tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record. With warmer temperatures globally, we are facing water stresses, food imbalances and new diseases.
3 We are far from achieving the goals set out in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We must mitigate and adapt to climate change, and we must act now.
SINGAPORE’S APPROACH TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY
4 In February this year, we launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which charts a common vision and roadmap for ensuring a more sustainable future. The Green Plan is a decade-long plan with ambitious sectoral targets that will help us achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible. Let me briefly share the five pillars of the Green Plan:
First, City in Nature – Under this pillar, we aim to create a green, liveable, and sustainable home and build up carbon sinks by extending nature throughout our island. By 2030, we will plant one million more trees across Singapore, and every household will be within a 10-minute walk from a park.
Second, Sustainable Living – We want every Singaporean to embrace sustainability as a way of life and contribute towards lowering our carbon emissions. Each of us can consume less, recycle more, and take public transportation more. We will inculcate good habits in our young through a new Eco Stewardship programme in schools.
Third, Energy Reset – We are greening our energy supply, infrastructure and buildings, towns and districts, and modes of transportation. We aim to increase solar energy deployment by five times, tap green energy sources from the ASEAN region and beyond, and look into emerging low-carbon solutions such as carbon, capture, utilisation and storage technologies and hydrogen.
Fourth, Green Economy - We will seek new investments that are among the best-in-class in terms of carbon and energy efficiency. Sustainability will be our new engine of jobs and growth, for example in carbon trading and services and Green Finance. We will also help our companies embrace sustainability and develop new capabilities in this area.
Fifth, Resilient Future – We will protect Singapore against the effects of climate change and build our national resilience for the future. This includes long-term coastal adaptation plans to protect Singapore against sea level rise, keep Singapore cool, and strengthening Singapore’s food security in a resource-efficient way.
RESEARCH AND INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
5 Singapore’s land, water and energy constraints pose significant challenges to how we can achieve our sustainability goals. We have overcome some of our challenges through consistent investment in research and development (R&D), and innovative solutions. In 1991, our first National Technology Plan had a budget of $2 billion. In the latest Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 plan, this has increased to $25 billion. These investments not only allow us to develop new capabilities to stay ahead of the economic curve, but help us overcome the constraints of our small size and limited resources.
6 The Domain of Urban Solutions and Sustainability was first included into our R&D plan in 2006, with an aim to turn our water and energy constraints into economic opportunities, as a global hydrohub and clean energy hub. We have reaped significant returns from areas such as membrane bioreactor technology that enhances the water filtration process and saved approximately $800 million as of 2015. New tools, such as the Integrated Environmental Modeller, a 3D simulation model of our estates, were introduced to improve liveability by forecasting environmental factors such as urban heat and wind direction.
GREENING THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT WITH INNOVATION
7 Our built environment is a focus area of our R&D plan. Our building stock accounts for 20 per cent of our total CO2 emissions, making it one of the largest sources. Government agencies have been engaging stakeholders to adopt alternative construction materials, and encouraging building tenants to take steps to save energy. Let me share a few examples.
8 The National Environment Agency (NEA), together with the Waste-to-Energy Research Facility at the Nanyang Technological University, successfully developed NEWSand, a construction material made from end-products of waste incineration. NEWSand is an alternative to conventional construction materials, such as concrete, which can contribute up to 30 per cent of the building carbon footprint. It also saves us the need to landfill the incineration waste. This new material has been used to construct footpath and plaza space, and we are exploring production at a commercial scale.
9 On energy consumption of a building, owners can nudge occupants to adopt best practices by installing smart energy and water efficient fittings, as demonstrated in the Punggol Northshore development. More than 1,400 smart-enabled flats are equipped with smart power sockets and technology-enabled distribution boards. These fixtures allow residents to monitor their energy consumption and provide them the optionality to adopt smart home solutions and applications that are available in the market. The estate also features a smart irrigation system, which uses moisture sensors and data in rainfall and sunlight to optimise watering frequency.
10 Building owners can also adopt alternative cleaner energy sources. JTC has launched the SolarLand and SolarRoof programmes, which allow photovoltaic (PV) panels to be installed on temporary vacant land and industrial roof spaces. Several developers, including CapitaLand, have come on board to allow for installation of solar panels on their roofs. These efforts have enabled us to meet our target of deploying 350-megawatt peak (MWp) of solar energy in 2020.
RIDING ON THE MOMENTUM
11 Under the Green Plan, we will continue to press on with our efforts. Our investments in R&D will help us better understand the impact of climate change, develop new solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, and increase the use of renewable energy and low carbon technologies. Singapore can also be a testbed for innovative technologies with cross-border collaboration.
12 For example, the Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator – Singapore (or REIDS) is a large-scale offshore microgrid dedicated to designing, demonstrating and testing solutions for sustainable energy access for all in Southeast Asia. The Ministry of National Development has also launched the Built Environment Technology Alliance, which serves as a one-stop portal for companies to tap on the Built Environment Living Lab Framework. Through this framework, firms will be given access to living laboratories, where they can trial new technologies for translation to commercialisation.
THE BENEFITS OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOR CORPORATES
13 Research and innovation leading to commercialisation is a space where public and private sectors must collaborate. Research can be long-dated and involves high risk. Governments must support and fund it. Innovation and commercialisation of products of research require entrepreneurial acumen and nimble responses. This is where many enterprises have strengths. Initiatives such as the CapitaLand Sustainability X Challenge help to uncover unique solutions that may offer the right competitive edge. It also gives innovators an opportunity to test bed and refine their ideas, which can eventually be scaled up to benefit businesses, consumers and our environment.
14 Let me conclude. Climate change is a complex issue that requires collective action and multiple strategies. Technology and innovation can be leveraged to translate constraints into growth opportunities. Today’s innovation challenge is a good launchpad for promising innovations to be uncovered, refined, and scaled up for the benefit of our environment. To all the finalists here today, I wish you all the best. And I hope that your product and innovation will come into the market sooner.