Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Launch of PwC Singapore’s Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainability Excellence on 9 December 2021
Mr Marcus Lam, Executive Chairman of PwC Singapore;
Dr Peter Gassman, Global Strategy& Leader and PwC’s Global ESG Leader;
Ms Fang Eu-Lin, ESG Leader, PwC Singapore;
Members of the Singapore Low Carbon Network;
Ladies and gentlemen;
2 It is my pleasure to join you today for the launch of PwC Singapore’s Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainability Excellence and the Singapore Low Carbon Network (SLCN).
3 The COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted businesses and economies around the world, and has changed the way we live, work and play. But its impact will pale in comparison to what we are likely to experience if we do nothing to tackle climate change. With higher temperatures, we may see more pandemics, severe disruptions, and irreversible damage to our lives.
4 Against the backdrop of these two driving forces, we must pursue a green strategy as we build a resilient nation for the future. PwC has been quick in adapting to these changing times, with the launch of PwC’s “The New Equation” global strategy in June this year. I am heartened to note that the intertwined needs of building trust and delivering sustained outcomes through investing in ESG capabilities is a core part of this strategy.
Sustainable Development in Singapore
5 Sustainability has been a part of Singapore’s DNA since our early years of independence. We cleaned up our rivers and invested in water resilience many decades ago. We have consistently pursued sustainable development by balancing economic growth with environmental protection and social inclusion. The biggest opportunity ahead lies in developing a green economy, in an inclusive way, to create new jobs, seek new investments, de-carbonise our industries, and harness sustainability as a competitive advantage for our companies.
6 Singapore submitted our enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) last year to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We also launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 earlier this year to advance our national sustainable development agenda. Under the Green Economy pillar of the Green Plan, we will help companies embrace sustainability and develop new capabilities in this area. Enterprise Singapore launched the Enterprise Sustainability Programme (ESP) in October 2021 to help Singapore companies capture new opportunities in the green economy. The programme will support training workshops, capability and product development projects, and also support key enablers such as certifications and financing. PwC Singapore is one of the partners working with Enterprise Singapore to develop and deliver training under the ESP. This will help enterprises – particularly those that are just starting out on their sustainability journey – to build greater awareness and knowledge of sustainability as a foundation to further efforts.
The Business Impetus for a Low-Carbon Future
7 Private enterprises have an important role in our transition towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. The industry sector accounted for 62 per cent of carbon emissions – 47 per cent in primary emissions and 15 per cent in secondary emissions – and therefore must be involved in the transition. Investors and consumers are demanding this of companies.
8 Notably, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has validated PwC’s global targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent in absolute terms from 2019 levels by 2030, and in line with a 1.5 degree scenario. Importantly, PwC’s targets go beyond scopes 1 and 2 emissions to include PwC’s largest indirect scope 3 emissions.
9 At the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), parties managed to successfully come to an agreement on Article 6. With greater clarity in the rule book, we expect growth in international cooperation and trade in carbon credits of high environmental integrity and quality. New professional services are needed to bring about these cross-border movements of resources towards adaptation and mitigation. Capability building, particularly in developing countries, is essential to bring momentum and equity in the decarbonisation of cities and countries.
10 I note that PwC is doing its part to contribute to this national agenda, with an investment of S$50 million over five years as part of The New Equation strategy. The Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainability Excellence that is being launched today is an important part of this strategy. I understand that this includes upskilling your 3,500-strong team in ESG and integrating sustainability into cross-competency services to support clients.
Collective Action and Partnerships as a Key Enabler
11 The New Equation strategy also aims to build a community of solvers to effect real change through the Singapore Low Carbon Network. The Network will facilitate the sharing of best practices and enable partnership between the people, public and private (or 3P) sectors by bringing together like-minded ambitious organisations from diverse industries in carbon action.
12 Indeed, while the Government can set the policies, the energy and innovation to change must come from all of us. The Green Plan recognises the importance of galvanising actions from all sectors. Through the GreenGov.SG initiative, the public sector will drive sustainability through green procurement and ambitious targets for carbon emissions reduction. A Green Citizenry is another enabler in the Green Plan. The Government will work with our partners in the 3P sectors to build environment stewardship and tap on the energy, experiences and ideas of all sectors to co-create and co-deliver solutions.
13 I congratulate PwC Singapore and the members of the Singapore Low Carbon Network for advancing the climate agenda. The time for action is now. With our Green Plan set in motion, we stand ready to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We call on business leaders to aspire to produce goods and services in a more resilient and sustainable way, parents to aspire to leave behind a better world for their children, and individuals to care for the planetary environment that we own collectively. You are important enablers of change, and I hope that you will join us in paving the way for a more sustainable, resilient Singapore for our future generations.
14 Thank you.