OPENING ADDRESS BY MS GRACE FU, MINISTER FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AT THE PARTNERS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT FORUM, 12 JULY 2021, 10AM
GreenGov.SG: Public Sector Leading the Way Towards a Greener and Stronger Singapore
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning and welcome to the Partners for the Environment Forum. This is a key platform for MSE and our partners to come together to discuss environmental sustainability issues and co-create solutions. Such collective action is crucial as we face the defining crisis of our generation – climate change.
CLIMATE CHANGE – AN EXISTENTIAL CHALLENGE DEFINING OUR GENERATION
2 Countries across the globe have been battered by superstorms and heat waves. Seven of the hottest years on record have all occurred since 2014. Rising temperatures intensify the impact of droughts and other extreme weather events, accelerate the thinning of ice caps and sea level rise, and threaten our livelihoods and security.
3 The urgency to act has never been stronger. Governments worldwide recognise the costs that climate change will inflict and the need for concerted action to turn the tide.
4 Singapore is firmly committed to tackling climate change. While we contribute only 0.1 per cent of global emissions, the impact of climate change on us is disproportionately large. Climate change poses an existential and asymmetrical challenge to Singapore.
5 Last year, we submitted our enhanced 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution and our Long-Term Low-Emissions Development Strategy under the Paris Agreement. We will continue to take bold actions and review our climate goals with the aim of achieving net zero emissions as soon as viable. 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.
6 Domestically, we have been planning and implementing measures to transit Singapore to a low-carbon and climate resilient future.
a. As a small city-state with limited alternative energy sources, land and manpower, we are constantly balancing trade-offs that are much starker and harder than what most countries face.
b. We do not have the same options for alternative energy as other larger countries do – no vast land for solar farms nor wind turbines.
c. Because we do not have abundant natural resources and a large hinterland, to provide good jobs for our people, we have created a diversified economy that is well-plugged into the global system. When we produce for export, we aim to do so responsibly, by accounting for the carbon emissions and helping our industries be among the best-in-class in energy and carbon efficiency.
d. For climate change adaptation, we have to strengthen our food, water and energy security, protect our coasts and enhance flood resilience.
e. Finding the right pace and balance in our policies and actions is critical for Singapore.
SINGAPORE GREEN PLAN 2030 AND GREENGOV.SG
7 Singapore Green Plan 2030 is our national roadmap towards sustainable development and net-zero emissions, while balancing economic growth with sustainable development and social inclusion. The Green Plan sets out concrete initiatives and targets over the next decade, with the public sector doing its part through the GreenGov.SG initiative.
8 The public sector’s journey started under the Public Sector Taking the Lead in Environmental Sustainability (PSTLES) initiative. Agencies have made good progress over the years. For instance, we achieved a six per cent improvement in water efficiency between 2013 and 2019, while 53 public sector buildings have been certified Green Mark Platinum as of December last year.
9 But we must do more. The public sector has a responsibility to set the pace in sustainability, drive innovation and create demand.
10 GreenGov.SG will raise the bar on sustainability through three pillars, or three ‘E’s:
a. First, we will Excel with new and more ambitious targets.
b. Second, we will Enable a sustainable economy and green citizenry, by embedding sustainability in our core business.
c. Third, we will Excite public officers to contribute actively to sustainability in Singapore.
EXCEL – SETTING NEW AND AMBITIOUS GOALS AND GREENING OPERATIONS
11 Let me begin with the first pillar of Excel and speak about our public sector targets.
Setting New and Ambitious Targets
12 We will introduce a carbon emissions reduction target for the first time, and aim to peak the public sector’s emissions around 2025, five years ahead of our national target. This will require us to use less energy, water and resources by improving the efficiency of our operations, and increase the use of cleaner energy such as solar.
13 We will set new targets for buildings, information technology, transport and solar, which are more ambitious than our national goals.
a. Our new and existing public sector buildings upon retrofitting will achieve the best-in-class standard for buildings, which is the Green Mark Platinum (Super Low Energy) standard or equivalent.
b. All government data centres will achieve the Green Mark Platinum standard by 2025.
c. To green our vehicles, we will require all new government cars to be of cleaner energy models from 2023. All government cars will run on cleaner energy by 2035, five years ahead of our national 2040 vision.
d. By 2030, the public sector will increase solar energy deployment to 1.5 gigawatt-peak, which is equivalent to powering more than 260,000 households a year. This will account for three quarters of the national solar target of 2 gigawatt-peak by 2030.
14 We will set challenging goals for energy, water and waste.
a. We aim to reduce the energy and water use by 2030 by 10 per cent from the average of last three years.
b. For waste, we target to reduce the amount of waste disposed of per person by 30 per cent by 2030, from 2022 levels.
15 These targets will apply to the whole spectrum of public sector operations, and ensure that sustainability is embedded at the core of public sector functions.
16 Under GreenGov.SG, we will go beyond government offices and schools, to green all public sector infrastructure and operations. This will double the number of premises covered, from 800 to 1,600 facilities. These include our waste-to-energy plants, universities, public transport infrastructure, hawker centres, healthcare facilities and more. Let me illustrate using two sectors.
a. For water, we aim to halve the amount of energy used to produce desalinated water and are exploring new technologies in reverse osmosis to improve the production of NEWater.
b. For defence, the SAF Sustainability Office will drive the planning and implementation of sustainability efforts. By 2030, MINDEF and the SAF will reduce their carbon emissions growth by two-thirds by doubling their solar adoption in camps and bases, electrifying their administrative vehicle fleet, and trialling green aviation fuels. They will reduce water consumption and waste generation, through using water-efficient equipment and recycling food waste.
ENABLE – EMBEDDING SUSTAINABILITY IN OUR CORE BUSINESS AREAS
17 The second ‘E’, how the public sector can Enable a green economy and green citizenry. We will catalyse the development of the sustainability sector through policy making and procurement; we will activate demand for low-carbon and resource-efficient technologies; and we strive to enhance Singapore’s economic competitiveness in a low-carbon future.
Policies and Programmes to Promote Sustainability
18 First, by integrating sustainability and climate resilience into our policies and programmes, we will engender a shift in our companies and across our economy, as consumers and investors increasingly prioritise low-carbon products and solutions. We will support Singapore companies in this transition.
a. To encourage the private sector to develop more environmentally friendly buildings, BCA’s Green Mark scheme will be further enhanced to raise energy performance standards and place greater emphasis on other aspects of sustainability, such as health and well-being, and how buildings are designed for long-term maintainability.
b. To help our industries improve energy and carbon efficiency, we have enhanced support through incentive schemes such as the Energy Efficiency Fund and Resource Efficiency Grant for Energy. A new Enterprise Sustainability Programme will support local companies in building capabilities in sustainability, and in developing new products and solutions for the green economy.
19 Second, we will leverage green procurement to build a greener economy.
20 A recent study1 highlighted that eight in 10 multinationals will remove suppliers that obstruct their carbon transition plan by 2025. The same study also showed a US$1.6 trillion market opportunity for suppliers that decarbonise in line with the multinationals’ net zero plans.
21 Under GreenGov.SG, as a major buyer of goods and services, the public sector will influence our service providers and suppliers to be more sustainable, and encourage our companies to grow their capabilities to thrive in the low-carbon global economy.
22 We will mandate that products meet high resource-efficiency or sustainability standards. Since 2016, public sector agencies are required to purchase printing paper that are accredited with the Singapore Green Label, as well as electrical appliances that meet stipulated efficiency levels. We will raise these standards further, and expand the list of green items to include the most efficient water fittings, eco-friendly building products and electric vehicles.
23 We will consider the sustainability policies and practices of potential suppliers in the evaluation of government tenders. The public service has piloted this requirement in recent tenders for accommodation and event venues, as well as for public waste collection. For the accommodation and event venues tender, 70 per cent of the bidders have adopted sustainability standards or reporting.
24 We plan to incorporate sustainability as a key consideration in our procurement decisions, alongside price and quality attributes. We hope that green procurement will trigger a mindset shift amongst our procurement officers, suppliers and partners, and create a ripple effect in the wider economy.
Citizen Education and Engagement
25 Third, we will Enable a green citizenry through education and community-based programmes.
26 We will use our citizen touchpoints across all agencies to raise awareness and educate our community on sustainability issues. For example, MSE will collaborate with the National Library Board to seed new learning communities on sustainability, where people with an interest in sustainability come together to exchange knowledge.
27 We will also enhance efforts for our youth to learn about environmental sustainability. Through the Eco Stewardship Programme, MOE will strengthen school curriculum and programmes on sustainability, to inculcate a deeper sense of environmental consciousness to guide habits and behaviours. We will continue to green our schools, to achieve a two-thirds reduction of net carbon emissions from the schools sector by 2030. These efforts include greater solar panel deployment, using more energy-efficient technology, such as LED lights, and integrating campus sustainability features into learning resources to make learning more authentic.
28 To create awareness and connect sustainability actions with the actual lived experience of citizens, we will showcase sustainability features at community spaces. For example, Senja will have a sustainable hawker centre, featuring food waste digesters, rainwater harvesting and solar panels. We hope to provide residents with greener community dining rooms, while inculcating environmental-friendly habits like food waste segregation and recycling.
29 By placing sustainability in policy development, procurement, and citizen engagement, the public sector can drive fundamental change by catalysing greater actions in the wider economy.
EXCITE – BUILDING A CULTURE OF SUSTAINABILITY
30 Finally, the third ‘E’ of Excite, we aim to grow a culture of sustainability in the public service and encourage public officers to practise sustainability in their work and daily lives.
31 Sustainability is a key plank of public sector transformation, and public sector leaders will have opportunities to exchange ideas and best practices with one another and with their officers to foster collective ownership of our sustainability drive.
32 We will set up Communities of Practice for officers who oversee sustainability plans to share ideas. Industry professionals and technical experts will be invited to share the latest technologies and solutions in the sustainability space, to build up our officers’ sustainability knowledge and capabilities.
33 There are already stewards of the environment within the public service. We will organise conversations to inspire and support officers who are initiating and championing ground-up projects.
34 We will also raise awareness and encourage public servants to take steps to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Two weeks ago, the public service launched a whole-of-government Bring Your Own campaign. This month-long initiative aims to cultivate environmentally friendly habits amongst our public officers. We hope that our officers will play their part for the environment, and inspire their families and friends to do the same.
35 An energised and committed public service will be better able to partner the private and people sectors in realising our Green Plan.
Every Singaporean a Steward of Sustainability
36 Every Singaporean has a voice in our sustainability journey. We have launched a series of Green Plan Conversations to spark meaningful discussions on how the community can contribute in its own way to climate action. I am inspired by the passion that people from all walks of life have shown towards this topic.
37 We will empower citizens to contribute in concrete and actionable ways. Two months ago, we announced the awarded recipients for the SG Eco Fund’s first grant call. Thirty-seven projects will receive S$3.7 million of funding in total. These cover a broad spectrum of actions, ranging from waste management and urban farming to public cleanliness and low-carbon solutions.
38 I encourage all our partners to bring forth good ideas, and take action with your partners, stakeholders and community.
THE JOURNEY AHEAD
39 Let me conclude.
40 Over the years, our public service has worked hard to ensure Singapore’s survival and progress. Today, the public service will lead the charge towards a more sustainable and low-carbon future, through the GreenGov.SG.
41 But the Government cannot do this alone. We need scientists to conduct research and development of new technologies, vendors to bring in more green products, and companies to invest in sustainability capabilities. We need our citizens to translate commitment into daily action, and drive sustainability on the ground. The Government can set the policies, but the energy to bring about concrete change must come from all of us – business leaders who want to produce their goods and services in a more resilient and sustainable way, parents who wish to leave behind a better world for their children, and individuals who care for the environment we all inhabit. Every one of us have our part to play.
42 Let us all join hands to build a greener and stronger Singapore. Let us commit to making the Singapore Green Plan a reality.
43 Thank you
1 Carbon Dated, a recent study by Standard Chartered, looks at the risks and opportunities for suppliers in emerging and fast-growing markets as large corporates transition to net zero.