Opening Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Climate Governance Singapore launch on 28 October 2021
Professor Lily Kong, President of Singapore Management University (SMU),
Mr Adrian Chan, Vice Chairman of Governing Council at Singapore Institute of Directors (SID),
Ms Karina Litvack, Chairman of Climate Governance Initiative’s (CGI) Governing Board,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you today for the launch of Climate Governance Singapore, the local chapter of the World Economic Forum’s Climate Governance Initiative.
Our National Pivot to a Low-Carbon Future
2 Climate change is an urgent existential challenge that will affect all nations, all sectors, all lives. The science and signs are clear. Many countries, including Singapore, are already experiencing the impacts, such as extreme weather conditions and sea level rise. How can we transform our society and economy to adapt to a carbon-constrained future, or better yet, harness innovation to turn challenge into opportunity? Let me outline three key strategies that define our national pivot to a low-carbon, sustainable future.
3 First, the Government has charted a clear direction on the critical importance of sustainability. While Singapore has always prioritised sustainable development, we recognise the need to do more. We launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 earlier this year, as a whole-of-nation roadmap with concrete and ambitious sectoral targets. The Green Plan builds on preceding efforts and positions Singapore to achieving our net-zero emissions aspiration.
- Through the GreenGov.SG sustainability movement under the Green Plan, the public sector is leading by example and rallying stakeholders across all sectors. We have enhanced green procurement requirements for all agencies, to galvanise greener products and practices from our partners. New and existing public sector buildings must achieve Green Mark Platinum (Super Low Energy) standards or equivalent, and will deploy solar photovoltaics where feasible. Over time, we will install solar energy systems on the rooftops of 6,000 public buildings.
- Through the Green Economy pillar of the Green Plan, we will harness sustainability as an engine and enabler of growth. We are investing in a green finance ecosystem to promote the local and regional green economy.
- The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) launched the Sustainable Bond Grant Scheme and Green and Sustainability-Linked Loan Grant Scheme (GSLS) to enhance access to green financing, effective from January 2021. This scheme is the first of its kind globally and will support corporates of all sizes to obtain sustainable funding. MAS also recently committed US$1.8 billion of its reserves to climate-related investments.
- To support local industries in developing sustainability capabilities, practices, and products, Enterprise Singapore has set aside up to S$180 million under the Enterprise Sustainability Programme to help 6,000 Singapore companies.
4 Second, Singapore has developed robust innovation capabilities, especially through public-private partnerships. DBS, SGX, Standard Chartered, and Temasek launched the Climate Impact X (CIX), a carbon exchange and marketplace to help corporations decarbonise hard-to-abate emissions with high-quality, nature-based solution projects. CIX will be the world’s first carbon exchange and marketplace to use satellite monitoring, machine learning, and blockchain technology to enhance transparency, integrity, and quality of carbon credits. We have also pledged $25 billion under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 plan to support the development and commercialisation of sustainability innovations, such as in renewable energy, the circular economy, and low-carbon solutions.
5 Third, Singapore is dedicated to ensuring our talent pool is able to capture the opportunities in the green economy. We launched the Singapore Green Finance Centre (SGFC), a collaboration between Singapore Management University and Imperial College Business School, to develop capabilities in climate science and sustainable investing. The National University of Singapore and MAS are also partnering on a new research institute, the Sustainable and Green Finance Institute (SGFIN), to drive green finance education and research.
The Business of Climate Action
6 In this transition to a low-carbon economy, corporations play a key role in mitigating climate change. CDP’s Carbon Majors report found that 71 per cent of global industrial greenhouse gases emitted since 1988 can be traced to just 100 fossil fuel companies. Additionally, the global supply chains of multinational companies are responsible for nearly a fifth of the total global carbon emissions in 2016, according to research published last year in the Nature Climate Change journal.
7 Businesses must come on board and do their part in reducing emissions and achieving a net-zero future. It is a civic imperative, and also makes good business sense since a sustainable business is a resilient one. Key stakeholders and investors understand this. They are increasingly calling upon corporates to embed sustainability in their operations, a demand that has sharpened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer preferences are trending towards greener products and services, and sustainability is becoming a key element for talent retention.
Stewards of Sustainable Industries
8 As industry leaders, you can support Singapore’s sustainable development agenda by steering your businesses to address climate change, including the risks and opportunities it presents. The Boards of Directors of corporates play a critical role as they are responsible for ensuring the long-term stewardship and resilience of their companies. It is thus critical to ensure they are enabled to integrate climate considerations in their Boardroom discussions and decision-making, and in the company’s strategy development. The Climate Governance Singapore, as an initiative to mobilise corporates and their leaders to address climate change at the board level, will help to expedite Singapore’s transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.
9 Today’s launch is timely. In just two days, global leaders will be gathering in Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to advance climate action. Singapore will do our best to advance climate negotiations, especially on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement which I am co-facilitating alongside my counterpart from Norway. As these international guidelines on carbon markets progress towards completion, we hope nations will be empowered to raise their climate ambitions and commit to bolder action, and from there, corporates to be strongly supported to follow suit.
10 Let me conclude. I commend our corporate leaders for embracing sustainability and moving the needle on cutting-edge solutions for a greener economy.
11 You are important enablers of change and will shape the world for our future generations. Our legacy for them must be a sustainable one, and this is a journey that the Climate Governance Singapore will do well to uphold. Thank you.