SPEECH BY MS GRACE FU, MINISTER FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AT THE GLOBAL COMPACT NETWORK SINGAPORE SUMMIT ON 26 OCTOBER 2021
Ms Goh Swee Chen, President of the Global Compact Network Singapore,
Ladies and Gentlemen
TAKING DECISIVE ACTIONS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
2 In a few days’ time, global leaders will meet in Glasgow for the United Nations’ 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26). This marks the first five-year cycle since countries collectively agreed on a set of climate goals, which culminated in the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015.
3 Five years on, we remain far behind these goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has further delayed progress on climate action, as governments and businesses prioritise resources to tackle the more immediate crisis. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in August this year warned that global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming over the next two decades. The human impact on the environment is clear. Decisive actions are needed now.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN SINGAPORE AND FOR BUSINESSES
4 Singapore embarked on our sustainable development journey decades ago. As an island state with limited resources, sustainability has always been a key consideration in Singapore’s policies. This includes striking a careful balance between environmental and economic development needs, and social inclusion. We started tree planting decades ago. We switched out of coal and into gas, the cleanest form of fuel two decades ago. We put a lid on the car population and invested heavily on mass public transportation. We moved away from landfills to waste-to energy incineration plants. And we closed our water loop and are recycling our water.
5 We are committed to sustainable development and taking climate action. We submitted our enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) last year. Earlier this year, we also launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, our national roadmap for sustainable development. The ambitious and concrete goals set out in the Green Plan positions us to achieve our long-term net-zero emissions aspiration.
6 Addressing climate change requires the support of all, especially the business community. In Singapore, our industries are the largest contributor to primary and secondary emissions. Businesses, therefore, play a significant role in climate action.
7 Businesses must transit to a low carbon future. Investors and consumers are demanding that of companies. In the past two years, investments in Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Funds have increased exponentially and could reach $1 trillion by 2030. A lower carbon footprint will lead to cost savings and more business opportunities.
8 With increasing frequency in extreme weather events, companies will also need to build resilience into their supply chains and infrastructure to cope with disruptions. A report by McKinsey noted that an average utility company in the United States would have saved USD 1 billion over 20 years if it adopted alternative infrastructure such as microgrids and battery storage, compared to the cost of repairing damages.
9 As a pillar of the Green Plan, Green Economy aspires to seize the opportunities that will arise as the world transit. Significant investments are needed for the transitioning to lower carbon operations. The Government has put in place many initiatives to support businesses in this regard. Last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore put in place the Green and Sustainability Linked Loan Grant Scheme and Sustainable Bond Grant Scheme to help both companies to obtain, and banks to grant green and sustainability-linked projects. This month, Enterprise Singapore launched the Enterprise Sustainability Programme that supports companies in developing new capabilities, as well as capturing new opportunities in the green economy. $180 million has been set aside for this programme, and it is expected to benefit 6,000 enterprises over the next four years. To nudge suppliers towards greener practices, the public service has also introduced a new set of guidelines that require procurement activities to comply with higher efficiency and sustainability efforts under the GreenGov.SG initiative.
10 We are glad to see more companies making this transition towards sustainability, and encouraging others to do so. Last year, DBS Bank launched the world’s first Sustainable and Transition Finance Framework and Taxonomy to guide companies in adopting greener alternatives. Hewlett Packard also published a sustainable IT purchasing guide to help organisations advance sustainable impact through green procurement.
11 Under Energy Reset, another pillar of the Green Plan, we will strive to decarbonise our power sector and become more energy efficient. The power sector contributes 40 per cent of Singapore’s emissions and will play a critical role in our efforts on climate change. Yesterday, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) announced that it will be issuing two requests for proposals, starting from the second quarter of 2022, to import up to four giga-watts of low-carbon electricity. This will then make up about 30 per cent of our electricity supply by 2035. The EMA, in partnership with JTC and Enterprise Singapore, has also announced a $6 million commitment under the Renewable Energy Request for Proposals (RFP) to accelerate the development of clean energy innovations for implementation on Jurong Island.
LAUNCH OF LOWCARBONSG
12 As we embark on the Green Plan, there is a need to acquire the nascent skillsets and competency. I am pleased to announce the launch of LowCarbonSG, a capability building programme led by the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) Singapore, with support from the National Environment Agency and Enterprise Singapore. Through the 18-month programme, CPLC Singapore will raise companies’ awareness on climate risks and guide them in measuring, monitoring, and reducing their carbon emissions with a Carbon and Emissions Recording Tool. Upon completion of the programme, participants will be equipped to pursue green certification and labelling, and contribute to global sustainability goals.
13 With the support of partners such as the Sentosa Development Corporation, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the Association of Singapore Marine Industries, the Singapore Shipping Association and Innovate 360, CPLC Singapore has engaged 152 companies and upskilled 247 staff in emissions awareness and knowledge. I am heartened that a pioneer cohort of large and small local companies are on board the LowCarbonSG programme. These include StarHub, VacTech Engineering, Penguin International, and Matex International, among others. Congratulations to all of you on your achievements. I hope many more companies will be inspired by your experience to start their journey in decarbonisation with the LowCarbonSG programme.
14 Let me conclude. Climate change is an existential crisis of our time. Immediate and rapid actions must be taken to reduce global emissions and limit temperature increase. Singapore will continue to facilitate and advance international climate negotiations and do our utmost to achieve balanced and inclusive outcomes at COP26.
15 To achieve our goals under the Green Plan, the Government, businesses and civil society need to work collaboratively and contribute in our own ways. Decarbonising operations is an area that businesses can actively contribute to. This will not only serve the greater good but will present new opportunities as investors and consumers pay increasing attention towards ESG performance. I am heartened to see that CPLC Singapore is leading the LowCarbonSG initiative to help companies kickstart their transition.
16 I thank all of you for your efforts in building a sustainable Singapore, and look forward to your contributions in the future green economy.