Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment at the GreenDNA Launch and Certificate Presentation Ceremony on 13 January 2021
Ms Isabella Loh, Chairman, Singapore Environment Council
Ladies and gentlemen
Good afternoon, and a very happy new year to everyone.
2 2020 was a challenging year, which forced us to make changes to the way we live, work and play. The battle with the COVID-19 pandemic will continue for some time. However, even as we work to emerge stronger from it, we must continue to work on other challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Singapore.
3 According to climate researchers in Europe, 2020 was the joint hottest year on record, tied with 2016. The high temperatures last year fuelled deadly heat waves, droughts, intense wildfires and other environmental disasters around the world. In some parts of the Arctic, average temperatures were more than 6 degree Celsius higher than the baseline average from 1981 to 2010. These statistics and events are a grim reminder of the devastating impacts of climate change on the world.
4 As a low-lying city-state with no natural resources, Singapore is particularly concerned about rising sea levels, and the threats that climate change is posing to our water and food supplies. We took measures to coordinate our whole-of-nation response to climate change as early as 2007 and remain committed to doing our part to mitigate carbon emissions.
5 Last year, we were among the first few countries to submit our enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution and long-term low-emissions development strategy to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Under Singapore’s enhanced climate pledge, we target to peak emissions at 65 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) around 2030. We also aspire to halve our emissions from its peak to 33MtCO2e by 2050, with a view to achieving net zero emissions as soon as viable in the second half of the century. These are ambitious goals given the constraints we face, and reflect our nation’s strong commitment to climate action.
Key sustainability efforts
6 Let me share some of Singapore’s key efforts and milestones last year. To better understand the impacts of climate change, the Climate Science Research Programme Office was launched to drive the formulation and implementation of our National Climate Science Research Masterplan, and to help ensure our climate policies are supported by robust science. The Programme Office will also oversee research grant programmes such as the S$10 million National Sea Level Programme.
7 On the climate mitigation front, we achieved our 2020 solar deployment target of 350 megawatt-peak, and are working towards harnessing 1.5 gigawatt-peak by 2025. The Government also announced our aim to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles and have all vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040.
8 To strengthen Singapore’s food resilience against external shocks and to move closer to our “30 by 30” goal, the Singapore Food Agency awarded $39 million through the “30 by 30 Express” grant in September 2020, to accelerate local production of vegetables, eggs and fish over the next 24 months.
9 The National Environment Agency (NEA) and PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, also announced the commencement of the first phase of construction of the landmark Tuas Nexus facility, which integrates the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) with an Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF). When operational in 2025, Tuas Nexus will be energy self-sufficient by harnessing synergies from Tuas WRP and IWMF. This is expected to result in carbon savings of more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, equivalent to taking 42,500 cars off Singapore’s roads.
Climate action is a collective effort
10 Combating climate change requires everyone to play their part. As businesses, there are many ways you can make a difference. First, adopt low carbon solutions. Many companies have switched to alternative energy sources. Among them is Comfort Delgro, which is converting its entire taxi fleet to hybrid vehicle models by 2030. It also installed the first commercial Direct Current fast charging station in Singapore to support our electric vehicle fleet. SBS Transit has also introduced electric buses that emit zero pollutants in 2020. Such initiatives have reduced the need to generate energy from fossil fuels, reducing carbon emissions.
11 Secondly, businesses can improve efficiencies in work processes. DTC World Corporation achieves this by embedding the practice of reusing materials and recycling items to reduce waste in all its business activities. They also modified their production, maintenance and facility processes to reduce energy and water consumption.
12 Third, businesses can exercise a positive influence to create a ripple effect. As a strong advocate of the environment, Merci Marcel actively features and introduces environmentally friendly products to customers in its Orchard concept store. Another example is DBS, which established Sustainable Sourcing Principles (SSP), outlining the bank’s expectations of its suppliers. It also founded the National Sustainability Roundtable in 2019 with Mandai Park Holdings, SingTel and Starhub with an objective of building innovative and sustainable supply chains. These efforts drive more companies, especially suppliers, to align their business operations with sustainable goals.
Launch of GreenDNA
13 The SEC is another organisation that has rolled out initiatives to help businesses become more sustainable. Through its Eco-Office+ certification programme, SEC has helped 700 offices raise eco-consciousness among their staff and reduce usage of paper, water and electricity. Its Singapore Green Labelling Scheme has led 830 companies to ensure that 3,700 products are produced in an environmentally friendly manner. Building on this foundation, SEC’s new GreenDNA programme provides step-by-step guidance to help companies define clear strategies, measurable goals and distinct roles for management and staff to ingrain a culture of sustainability in their organisations.
14 To be awarded the GreenDNA certification, companies need to attain eco-certification, complete training programmes for their staff and implement continuous improvements to their work practices. This requires dedication and commitment from everyone in the organisation. Today, we recognise 12 companies for being the first to achieve the GreenDNA certification. As you continue in your sustainability journey, I encourage you to take bolder actions and seek innovative solutions. I also urge other organisations to consider how you could make sustainability second nature for your organisation, by building your own “Green DNA”.
15 Let me conclude by commending SEC on its efforts to help build a greener, more sustainable Singapore. Our transition into a low-carbon economy and sustainable future is critical and requires collective efforts by the people, private and public sectors. I look forward to the further development and growth of the GreenDNA initiative.