Opening Remarks by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at ‘Ambitious Climate Action: Towards Net Zero Carbon Cities’ on 21 June 2021
1 Good evening. I thank C40 Cities and the National Climate Change Secretariat for co-organising today’s webinar on ‘Ambitious Climate Action: Towards Net Zero Carbon Cities’.
2 This is a timely and relevant topic. Our cities have a profound impact on the climate. Home to more than half of the world’s population, cities account for nearly two-thirds of global carbon emissions, and more than three-quarters of total energy consumption.
3 As urbanisation intensifies, the fates of our cities and the climate will become more deeply entwined than ever.
4 Recognising the need for urgent and substantive action in the face of a global climate emergency, hundreds of cities worldwide have ramped up their climate commitments and undertaken ambitious strategies to achieve net zero emissions.
5 Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is heartening to see this global momentum grow. In fact, many cities have seized the window of opportunity to prioritise a green recovery as they begin to rebuild, laying vital groundwork for the transition to a low-carbon future.
6 Every city has a unique path to net zero. As a small city-state with limited alternative energy sources, land and manpower, Singapore’s trade-offs are much starker than what most cities face.
7 Our carbon emissions set real cross-cutting constraints on our development and the daily lives of Singaporeans.
8 But we are determined to overcome these constraints through careful long-term planning and innovations in policy and technology.
9 Earlier this year, we announced our Singapore Green Plan 2030, which charts concrete and ambitious targets over the next decade, putting us in good stead to achieve our long-term net zero aspiration as soon as viable. Let me share some features of the Green Plan.
10 First, we will pursue an Energy Reset, by improving energy efficiency and using cleaner energy. We have enhanced our support for industry, to spur the adoption of more energy-efficient technologies and practices.
11 We are also pressing on with plans to maximise the deployment of solar energy, our most promising renewable energy option.
12 Amidst the various competing demands for land, we are scaling up the installation of solar panels on rooftops and reservoirs. This will quadruple our present solar capacity to 2 gigawatt-peak by 2030, making Singapore one of the world’s most solar-dense cities.
13 We launched an initiative on Low-Carbon Energy Research to catalyse the growth of technologies such as low-carbon hydrogen, carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and to develop such solutions for the region and beyond.
14 Within our built environment, we will raise sustainability standards under the latest edition of the Singapore Green Building Masterplan. We will retrofit existing buildings and ensure that the vast majority of new buildings achieve best-in-class energy performance.
15 We are also embarking on major infrastructural upgrades to electrify our vehicle fleet. For example, we will install 60,000 electric vehicle charging points islandwide by 2030, and phase out all internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040.
16 Second, we will establish Singapore as a liveable and endearing City in Nature. We have already commenced efforts to plant one million more trees across the island, expanding our carbon sinks and incorporating more greenery throughout our urban landscape. Every household will be within a 10-minute walk from a park.
17 Third, we will partner our local communities in the push for more Sustainable Living. By nurturing a zero-waste mentality, we aim to reduce the amount of waste sent to our landfill by 30 per cent by 2030, and will front-load our efforts to achieve a 20 per cent reduction by 2026.
18 We will promote greener commutes by investing in public transport infrastructure, expanding our rail network and encouraging walking, cycling and active mobility.
19 The Government will lead the change through the GreenGov.SG initiative. We will set ambitious goals to reduce our carbon footprint across public sector infrastructure and operations, and lead market demand for sustainable products and services.
20 While we can and must do more to mitigate climate change, there is also a need to guard against risks exacerbated by climate change, such as flooding, warmer temperatures, and supply chain disruptions, in order to build a Resilient Future for our cities.
21 Like other coastal, low-lying cities, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and weather fluctuations resulting from climate change. To deal with these existential threats, we have adopted a long-term approach to building up climate resilience, rooted in robust climate science.
22 We are investing heavily over the long term in coastal and flood protection, which could cost up to S$100 billion or more over the next 50 to 100 years. We will implement these coastal protection measures in phases, beginning with more vulnerable segments of our coastlines.
23 We will develop protection measures, including sea walls, polders, and nature-based solutions like planting mangroves. We will seek out innovative solutions that complement our land use, sea space needs, and the natural environment.
24 We are studying ways to mitigate the impact of climate change on our way of life and the urban environment. By partnering the research community, we are developing computational models to simulate various climate variables like temperature, rainfall and sea level rise, and ensure that our urban design remains climate-responsive.
25 We are also taking steps to strengthen our food resilience by producing locally in a resource-efficient and sustainable way. While Singapore currently imports over 90 per cent of our food, our goal is to reach “30 by 30” — to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs locally by 2030.
26 This will require us to ‘grow more with less’, and employ climate-resilient technologies to produce food in as productive and resource-efficient a way as possible.
27 Decarbonising our cities and making them more climate-resilient will require collective commitment and coordinated action from all stakeholders.
28 Global networks such as C40 Cities provide valuable avenues for cities to share best practices and collaborate on issues of mutual interest.
29 The Green Plan is our flagship movement to transform Singapore into a global city of sustainability. I am certain the mayors here with us today will also showcase a diverse array of exciting ideas in their respective climate action plans.
30 I hope their ingenuity will enlighten, inspire, and empower us all to push the envelope on climate action, paving the way for our cities to reach net zero as soon as viable. Thank you.