Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Questions on Singapore’s Carbon Emission Targets following the latest report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Dr Lim Wee Kiak: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) what is the amount of carbon emissions three years ago during the pre-COVID-19 period in comparison to post-COVID-19, with more people working from home and reduced traveling; (b) if it is a net decrease in carbon emissions, how can this momentum be maintained, moving on; and (c) whether revisions to key targets in the Singapore Green Plan will be made following the report of UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment following the latest report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whether the Government will review and bring forward the plans to reach net zero emissions.
Miss Cheryl Chan Wei Ling: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment with regard to the Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR6) (a) what changes are required to Singapore's carbon emission and other environmental targets; (b) whether there is a system in place to review and track Singapore's long-term environmental commitments; and (c) whether there are urgent short-term changes to the commitments that will impact citizens and businesses.
Miss He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment given the latest report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whether the Government plans to (i) review Singapore's net zero emissions target and set a definitive timeline to achieve net zero emissions (ii) commit the public sector to net zero emissions by 2050, and (iii) commit the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation to having a portfolio of net zero emissions.
1 The latest report from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a sobering assessment of the grave threats posed by climate change. Singapore remains fundamentally vulnerable to the impact of climate change.
2 SM Teo, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, outlined Singapore's Considered, Committed and Collective approach to climate action at this year's Committee of Supply debates. As a small city-state with limited land and alternative energy options, we face much starker trade-offs in mitigating our emissions. But we are committed to doing our full part in the global fight against climate change. Our ambitious climate goals have real impact on Singapore's development and the lives of Singaporeans, and are made after careful and co-ordinated planning. Last year, we submitted our enhanced 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and our Long-Term Low-Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) under the Paris Agreement. Less than a year later, we launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, our national roadmap towards sustainable development and net-zero emissions. The Green Plan builds on our enhanced NDC and LEDS and maps out ambitious targets and concrete initiatives over the next decade.
3 Several Members have asked if we would review our initiatives and targets in light of the latest IPCC findings. Let me assure Members that these are not static. We are pressing ahead decisively with our initiatives and gaining experience from implementing them. Where the conditions allow, we will strengthen our suite of initiatives and push ourselves to do more. The extent to which we can realise emissions reductions will become clearer, as technology evolves and matures, and as the modalities for international cooperation and collaboration become formalised. We are making efforts on both fronts. We are investing and working with key partners on low-carbon technologies and solutions, such as hydrogen. We are also working hard on the international front to advocate for a multilateral, rules-based approach to address climate change, and to foster collaboration in areas like carbon markets and regional energy grids that will support our push for decarbonisation.
4 In the meantime, we are advancing our efforts to transform our industry, economy and society to be more energy and carbon efficient. Central to this is the carbon tax, which helps to drive economy-wide emissions reduction. We are reviewing our carbon tax regime, to price carbon at a level that can spur the reduction of our carbon footprint and promote industry innovation and green growth, while maintaining Singapore's economic competitiveness. While we will maintain the carbon tax level at $5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions up until 2023, DPM and then Minister for Finance has stated at Budget 2021 that we are reviewing the post-2023 trajectory and level of carbon tax, as the urgency and global momentum for climate action have accelerated. This review will be done in consultation with industry and expert groups, and the outcome will be announced at Budget 2022 to give ample time for businesses to adjust.
5 The carbon tax complements the comprehensive suite of measures in the Green Plan to reduce emissions across all sectors. This includes quadrupling our solar energy deployment by 2025, greening 80% of our buildings by 2030, and investing in low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture utilisation and storage and low-carbon hydrogen. The public sector will take the lead and aim to peak its emissions around 2025, five years ahead of the national target. We will review the public sector's climate targets and strategies together with our national goals.
6 As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will examine how to lock in some of the gains from the increased prevalence of telecommuting over the past year, as Dr Lim Wee Kiak has suggested. Our preliminary analysis indicates that Singapore's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 had fallen compared to 2019 levels, mainly due to lower levels of economic activity in the industry sector. It is not conclusive that telecommuting has reduced emissions as working from home may have increased demand for services such as online shopping and food deliveries that increase transport emissions. We have also observed an increase in emissions from households due to increased electricity use. When the emissions data for 2020 is available, we will provide a full update.
7 As we move towards a low-carbon economy, businesses and financial institutions have an important role to play in channelling capital towards sustainable development. Ms He Ting Ru asked if there are plans to commit the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) to having a portfolio of net zero emissions. The Minister for Finance has previously stated that the Government does not prescribe the individual investment actions of our investment entities, which make independent commercial decisions. Nonetheless, we note that GIC is already holistically integrating sustainability considerations in their investment processes so as to protect and enhance the long-term value of their portfolios.
8 Ms Cheryl Chan asked whether there is a system in place to review and track Singapore's long-term environmental commitments. We do so through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change (IMCCC), chaired by SM Teo, and also regularly report the progress of our climate efforts to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Moving forward, we will provide regular updates on the progress of our broader efforts under the Singapore Green Plan. We hope that this will galvanise Singaporeans to make steady progress on these challenging and ambitious goals to create a more sustainable and climate-resilient future.