RECORDED REMARKS BY MS GRACE FU, MINISTER FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AT THE INAUGURAL EARTH HOUR SUMMIT ON 2 MARCH 2023, AT MARINA BAY SANDS
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure to join you at WWF Singapore’s inaugural Earth Hour Summit. I’m glad that over 500 business leaders have gathered here to collectively exchange views, explore partnerships and work on getting to net zero together.
Critical time for climate action
2 This summit comes at a critical time. We are already seeing the effects of climate change and its devastating impact on lives and livelihoods all over the world. To keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees alive, deep reductions in emissions must be made; not in the future, but in this decade.
3 This is a mammoth of a challenge. One that requires collective action and collaboration. We must change our mindsets and behaviours, actively decarbonise, and pursue technologies and innovations to accelerate the green transition. Businesses can play an important role in the following ways.
Role of Businesses in addressing Climate Change
4 First, on decarbonisation. Singapore has set our sights on achieving net-zero by 2050. This will require all sectors to make a green transition. This means adopting low-carbon solutions, improving your energy efficiency, greening your operations, supply chains and procurement processes.
5 Singapore has implemented a carbon tax to provide a strong price signal and impetus for businesses to act. We will be progressively raising our carbon tax from the current $5 per tonne, with a view of reaching $50 to $80 per tonne by 2030. Through this, we aim to right-price our emissions, and drive individuals and businesses to accelerate their transition. The revenue from the carbon tax will be used to support decarbonisation efforts, through grants and incentives, to help companies make the change.
6 The public sector will lead the way through our GreenGov.SG initiative. We will peak our carbon emissions around 2025, and achieve net zero around 2045, ahead of the national target. To lead this effort, we have appointed the Government Chief Sustainability Officer (GCSO) for the first time. Each Ministry will have its own Chief Sustainability Officer to oversee sustainability matters, and to work closely with the GCSO to develop and coordinate strategies. Starting this year, the Government will also publish an annual GreenGov.SG report to report on our progress and outcomes.
7 Next, on investing in innovation. We need businesses to pursue innovation and invest in green technology, products and services. This includes cleaner energy sources such as low-carbon hydrogen, and solutions for carbon capture and storage
8 Take incineration bottom ash. We have found a way to recycle it as aggregates in construction of non-structural infrastructure, such as park benches and footpaths. This product, which we call NEWSand, is being trialled on more uses so that we can divert it from our landfill. A*STAR is also studying the feasibility of capturing and storing CO2 in NEWSand. If successful, we not only close the waste loop, but also capture CO2 in the process.
9 Financial institutions also play a key role in this effort. McKinsey estimates that the world would require US$9.2 trillion of investment per year on low-emissions assets and infrastructure to meet the net zero 2050 goal. Currently, only US$5.7 trillion is being invested per year. Banks and asset managers can contribute by mobilising private sector capital to support projects that drive climate action. Local banks DBS, OCBC and UOB have joined the Net-Zero Banking Alliance and pledged to decarbonise their loan books by 2050.
10 As a financing hub, we will facilitate the development of green financing schemes such as sustainable bonds and loans. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has put in place a Green and Sustainability-linked Loan Grant Scheme to support businesses in initiating green projects, investing in green assets or shifting towards more sustainable business practices.
11 My last point is on collaboration. We must work collectively because what we need is a system-wide change. Across all legs of our value chain, decarbonisation must take root. This means that collaboration must take place between companies, suppliers and customers; knowledge must be shared within a sector and with adjacent sectors. Today’s summit is a good example of this, bringing companies from different sectors together. I thank WWF Singapore for initiating this meaningful session.
12 The window of opportunity to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees is rapidly closing. We must take bold action now. I urge you, as business leaders, to embrace sustainability in your companies and lead by example in this drive towards net zero.
13 Enough of me talking, it’s time for you to act. On that note, I understand WWF will be encouraging all in attendance today to commit to various sustainable actions. This includes making a commitment to set the temperature of the air conditioners in your offices to 25 degree Celsius. I encourage you to join us in this 25 degree Celsius movement – it is a small and simple action, but one that will make a positive difference to our environment. I also invite you to make a Green Nation pledge and commit to play your part. Do encourage your staff and partners to do so too
14 Thank you, and I wish you a fruitful summit ahead.