Keynote Address by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Sustainable Business Awards 2020/2021 on 7 December 2021
Mr Puneet Chaddha, Advisor to the Board, Global Initiatives,
Ms Fang Eu-Lin, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 Good afternoon everyone.
2 I thank Global Initiatives for inviting me to this year’s Sustainable Business Awards. The awards recognise corporates who demonstrated significant commitment to sustainability through implementing corporate sustainability programmes, setting carbon emission targets, and embarking on sustainability efforts. It is my pleasure to be here to congratulate the leaders and champions of sustainability.
3 I understand that the number of applications for the awards has increased from 87 in the last edition to 100 this year, showing a greater interest among the corporates in climate action and sustainability. I welcome this change.
Urgent Need for Climate Action
4 Like other coastal, low-lying cities, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and weather fluctuations resulting from climate change. We have seen more extreme weather events in recent years, such as more frequent and more intense rainfall causing flash floods. Given our limited land space and access to renewable energy at scale, we face constraints as we transition to a low-carbon economy. We will have to make trade-offs and balance the benefits against the costs.
5 Despite our constraints, we are taking bold climate actions and maximising the opportunities that come our way. These include technological advancements which make tackling climate change easier, and innovations which bring new and more sustainable products. Consumer preferences are also actively shifting towards sustainable products and brands as interest in environmental sustainability issues grows.
6 Singapore will do our full and fair share to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the larger global effort to combat climate change. Earlier this year, we announced the Singapore Green Plan 2030, charting ambitious and concrete sectoral targets over the next ten years, to advance sustainable development, achieve our long-term aspiration of net-zero emissions and make Singapore a greener home for all.
Green Economy as an Opportunity for Growth
7 Under the Green Plan, we are working to develop a green economy in an inclusive way, leveraging green growth opportunities to create new jobs, seek new investments, transform Singapore’s industries, and harness sustainability as a competitive advantage to grow our economy. Let me share some of our active steps to decarbonise and pursue growth opportunities.
8 First, we will transform the key sectors in our economy to be more energy and carbon efficient, by putting in place schemes, such as the Economic Development Board’s Resource Efficiency Grant for Energy, the National Environment Agency’s Energy Efficiency Fund and Enterprise Singapore’s Enterprise Sustainability Programme, to support enterprises in improving energy efficiency, capability development, adoption of sustainability standards, and the creation of new green products and solutions. We aim to make our energy and chemicals sector the best-in-class globally in energy and carbon efficiency. We are transforming our energy and chemicals hub, Jurong Island, into a sustainable manufacturing park by 2030.
9 Second, as a financing hub, we will encourage the development of green financing schemes such as sustainable bonds and loans. This will facilitate the transition towards green assets and projects as well as redirect financing flows to more sustainable business models. Last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore launched the Green and Sustainability-linked Loan Grant Scheme. The grant assists enterprises as they take up green projects, invest in green assets, or move towards more sustainable business practices. The Singapore Green Finance Centre, Singapore’s first research institute dedicated to green finance research and talent development, was also launched last year. Such efforts lay the groundwork for a deep talent pool in Singapore, with capabilities in climate science, financial economics, and sustainable investing.
10 Third, we are growing new sectors in the green economy. We aspire to be a carbon services hub, and a marketplace for origination and trading of high-quality carbon offsets. Carbon markets can help create the right pricing incentive for corporates to reduce carbon emissions. Climate Impact X, a joint venture between DBS Bank, Singapore Exchange, Standard Chartered and Temasek, will focus on high-quality carbon credits generated through nature-based solutions in Southeast Asia and incentivise emission cuts by providing better price transparency and verification of carbon credits.
11 Other than the three active steps being undertaken, having a carbon tax also stimulates the development of our green economy. An appropriate carbon tax level will send the price signal for carbon emission and incentivise companies to invest in decarbonisation technologies for long term competitiveness, harness green growth opportunities through research and development, and develop green products and services. This will strengthen our position as a gateway for green growth opportunities in the region and a place for sustainable and resilient business in the long term.
Partnerships to Accelerate Climate Action
12 The private sector is well-placed to create new opportunities for climate action and raising our collective ambition. With the right incentives and mechanisms, private-public partnerships can be formed to marshal substantial resources to support crucial mitigation and adaptation efforts. These partnerships are also well-placed to spread best practices and accelerate Singapore’s transition to net-zero.
13 Many of the technologies and business models needed to further decarbonisation are not yet fully developed or made commercially viable. There is much work to be done here. Partnerships are needed within and across industries to develop new technologies, value chains and business models that can transform how we consume and produce in an affordable way.
14 I am heartened that several organisations here are actively engaging your suppliers, contractors and clients to be aligned with your sustainability values and goals. I look forward to similar partnerships between corporates and the community and Government to further our Green Plan goals.
15 In conclusion, I thank each of you for being sustainability leaders in your respective sectors. I encourage all of you to continue this journey of climate action and seize the opportunities that it presents. I hope each of your organisations will also inspire others to follow your lead and work together with us in galvanising collective action. My heartiest congratulations to all the winners of the Sustainable Business Awards 2021.