Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Climate Action Tracker
Ms He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment what is the Government’s response to the September 2021 overall rating of Singapore by Climate Action Tracker as ‘Critically Insufficient’, the bottom category, in its overall ratings.
1 We are reviewing the methodology used by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) in rating Singapore’s climate targets and policies. Our preliminary view is that the CAT assessment framework does not account for Singapore’s unique challenges as a small, densely populated city-state with limited access to alternative energy sources. These are important considerations in contextualising Singapore’s climate and sustainability efforts. Such constraints in transitioning to alternative energy sources are recognised under Article 4.10 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
2 To put the numbers in context, Singapore’s population density is more than ten times higher than the next densest country being evaluated by CAT, South Korea. As a city-state with no hinterland and limited resources, we must make provisions for an array of needs, from industry, housing, utilities, air and seaports, to national defence, all within 728 square kilometres.
3 Even when we compare ourselves with equally dense global cities, we are at a distinct disadvantage, as we have no ready access to renewable energy sources.
i. London is about two-thirds as dense as Singapore, but is able to tap on various distant offshore wind farms that lie outside their administrative boundaries. For example, the London Array, an offshore wind farm located more than 100 kilometres away from the city, generates enough clean electricity to power around 500,000 homes.
ii. Hong Kong draws about a quarter of its electricity from nuclear power plants in China’s Guangdong province, and relies on Shenzhen as its adjacent manufacturing hub.
iii. Singapore is exploring ways to harness greener energy options such as solar energy, clean energy imports, and low-carbon alternatives. In July this year, we officially opened one of the world’s largest floating solar farms on Tengeh Reservoir. We are aggressively accelerating the deployment of solar panels on building rooftops and other untapped spaces including canals and roads. Even as we are pushing the bounds of innovation, our best efforts will only increase the proportion of solar in our power supply by only a couple of percentage points, from less than 1% in 2019 to around 3% by 2030.
iv. While we have no choice but to rely on fossil fuels as we explore other green energy options, we remain committed to keeping our energy mix as clean as possible. The share of coal in Singapore’s energy mix is just 1.2%. This is significantly lower than other countries that fare better on CAT’s list, such as Japan and Germany, where the proportion is nearly 30%.
4 Greening our energy grid is just one way in which Singapore is striving to overcome our natural limitations. We are also pressing ahead with the Singapore Green Plan 2030, a whole-of-nation roadmap to advance our sustainability development agenda and achieve net zero. These include greening 80% of our buildings by 2030, and phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040. We are reviewing the post-2023 carbon tax level and trajectory, in consultation with industry and expert groups, to further spur the reduction of our carbon emissions, incentivise industry innovation, and promote green growth. The revised post-2023 carbon tax level and trajectory will be announced at Budget next year.
5 The Government has also set aside significant funds to finance climate and sustainability efforts, which are not reflected in CAT’s assessment. In our S$25 billion Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Plan, sustainability features as a key focus area. To encourage the channelling of private capital to such efforts, MAS’ Green Finance Action Plan supports the mainstreaming of green and sustainable financing, the establishment of green finance centres of excellence, and the development of capabilities to originate innovative sustainable financing solutions and climate-resilient investment strategies.
6 As a responsible member of the international community, Singapore is determined to play our part and contribute our fair share in the global fight against climate change. We do this by setting ambitious but realistic goals, and following through with tangible actions even when they are difficult or challenging. As a low-lying island state, we are particularly vulnerable to the detrimental effects of climate change. Our plans are not static, and even as we implement existing initiatives, we will continually review and enhance our climate targets and preparations over time.