Opening Remarks By Ms Grace Fu, Minister For Sustainability And The Environment, At The GCNS Distinguished Dialogue On 23 November 2020
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 It is my pleasure to join you at this Distinguished Dialogue series. I thank Global Compact Network Singapore for organising this event, and your continued efforts to drive sustainable practices within the business community.
TIME FOR ACTION
2 Since independence, we have pursued sustainable development, by balancing economic development with environmental protection and social inclusion. In the face of the existential threat of climate change and other challenges, we must continue to develop Singapore in a sustainable and socially-inclusive way.
3 In March, Singapore submitted our Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We aspire to halve our emissions from its peak to 33 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) by 2050, with a view to achieving net zero emissions as soon as viable in the second half of the century. Countries like China, Japan and South Korea have made ambitious carbon neutral targets for 2050, 2060 recently. 2050 may seem far away, but it is not. It is 29 years away. A coal-fired power generation plant invested today, normally with 40 - 50 years of lifespan, will raise serious questions on viability and bankability. And markets the sizes of China, South Korea and Japan will set standards and drive requirements on carbon footprints of products and services.
4 These are therefore ambitious goals that need to be considered today. We will transform our industries, economy and society to be cleaner and more energy-efficient. We have implemented a carbon tax that is applied uniformly to all sectors, without exemption. We have switched to LNG much earlier. We will also invest in research and facilitate the adoption of new technologies such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and low-carbon fuels.
5 Singapore is enhancing our resource resilience, for instance in food and water. We are ramping up local food production by strengthening our research and innovation capacity in the food sector. This includes building an R&D ecosystem to enhance urban food production, developing production technologies for alternative proteins, as well as strengthening food safety capabilities and technologies. We continue to ensure that our water supply will remain resilient and sustainable. This includes investments to meet our population’s long-term water needs and managing our water demand. We are also strengthening our coastal protection and stormwater management to build resilience against climate change.
TOWARDS A GREEN ECONOMY
6 While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit many countries hard, it has also provided us with an opportunity to rebuild greener and better. My Ministry held a series of Emerging Stronger Conversations over the past few months to seek Singaporeans’ views on how we can strengthen Singapore’s sustainability, post-COVID. The Emerging Stronger Taskforce is also collaborating with partners to set up Singapore Together Alliances for Action (or AfAs). These AfAs are looking into ways to rebuild Singapore’s economy, with environmental sustainability and social inclusion as guiding principles. One common theme has emerged consistently, and that is: not only is there a need to work towards a green economy, it can also be a competitive advantage and a new economy sector for Singapore.
7 Let me share how businesses can play a role in this rebuilding process and journey towards a green economy. Firstly, businesses can become more carbon-efficient by adopting clean energy. Last month, Facebook announced a partnership with Sunseap Group, which will supply solar energy for Facebook operations in Singapore, including its first custom-built data centre in Asia. This will help Facebook achieve its goal of powering its regional operations with 100 per cent renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent.
8 Secondly, businesses can look to adopt a circular approach to operations and pursue sustainable production. TRIA, a local packaging solutions provider, manufactures 100 per cent plant-based disposable foodware and tableware from plants like tapioca roots, starch and sugarcane. In addition, they have created a unique table-to-farm solution that can compost their packaging, together with food waste within 24 hours, turning the waste into mineral-rich fertiliser. TRIA has partnered a waste collection company to collect waste for composting, thus closing the waste loop.
9 Businesses should look at ways to future-proof their operations against climate change and global pandemics. This can be done by digitalising their operations and upskilling their employees. And they should go beyond direct emissions to take into account emissions across the value chain in their sustainability drive, and beyond reporting measurements to transition towards lower carbon, low resource operations.
10 There is support available for businesses to transform. The National Environment Agency (or NEA) has worked with GCNS to develop a Carbon Emissions Recording Tool to support companies in building up their capability to monitor their resource consumption and carbon emissions. NEA and GCNS will continue to explore how to build on this to raise greater awareness of carbon emissions and environmental sustainability amongst businesses in Singapore.
11 There are various funds provided by different agencies such as Energy Market Authority and Enterprise Singapore to support transition. My Ministry will be launching a $50 million SG Eco Fund to support sustainability projects that nudge people and communities towards environmentally-friendly behaviour. Details will be released very soon, and we will work with GCNS to provide more information to interested parties.
12 As we work together to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must put sustainability at the core of our plans. I urge businesses to seize the opportunities for future growth and do your part to ensure the development of a resilient, green and competitive economy for Singapore.
13 I look forward to our dialogue, and to hearing your thoughts and views on sustainability.