Opening Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Launch of BCG’s Climate and Sustainability Hub for Innovation in Asia, on 30 March 2022
Mr Neeraj Aggarwal, Chairman of the Asia-Pacific region for The Boston Consulting Group
Mr Jaime Ruiz-Cabrero, Head of BCG South East Asia
Ladies and Gentlemen
1 Thank you for inviting me to the launch of Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Climate & Sustainability Hub for Innovation in Asia. As the exclusive consultancy partner for the UN COP26, BCG is well-acquainted with the need to accelerate action for the climate and our future.
2 Climate change presents a clear and pressing threat to all countries and societies. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sixth assessment report, released last month, emphasised the urgent need to take action now, before our “brief and rapidly closing window” of opportunity is forever gone.
3 Singapore, a resource-scarce island-city that is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, understands the critical importance of sustainable development. Since our independence, we have sought to balance economic development with environmental protection and social inclusion. Even as we grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic last year, we launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 to reinforce our commitment to sustainability.
4 The Green Plan puts forth several concrete and ambitious sustainability targets, with an emphasis on the critical role of people and partnerships. Climate change is a complex and existential challenge that calls for whole-of-society and global collaboration. We must work together to multiply the impact we can collectively achieve for the environment.
Supporting businesses in their decarbonisation journey
5 At this year’s Budget, we announced our increased national ambition to reach net-zero emissions by or around mid-century. This transition will require us to rethink and rework the status quo, and to tap on robust policies and partnerships. To send a clear price signal and impetus for business and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint, we will progressively increase the carbon tax from $5 per tonne, to $50 - $80 per tonne by 2030. To moderate the impact on companies and to catalyse the development of carbon credit markets, we will allow companies to surrender high-quality international carbon credits to offset up to 5% of their taxable emissions. The carbon tax and carbon credits will complement our suite of measures in climate mitigation. We will continue to pursue international collaboration to activate carbon credit projects as we work to serve as a green finance and carbon services hub. Platforms such as Project Marketplace by Climate Impact X launched earlier this month, will also support businesses to take climate action through the provision of verified carbon projects.
6 The power and industry sectors make up over 80 per cent of Singapore’s primary emissions. Businesses thus have an essential responsibility in our decarbonisation journey and we will support them to be among the best-in-class globally in circularity, energy, and carbon efficiency. For example, as part of our plans to transform Jurong Island into a sustainable energy and chemicals park, we aim to realise at least 2 million tonnes of carbon capture capacity and increase our output of sustainable products by 1.5 times (from 2019 levels) by 2030. To scale the impact we can achieve as we decarbonise our petro-chemical sectors, we must support collaboration between companies and among sectors, while continuing to lend support to businesses.
7 We have invested in resources to foster an ecosystem of sustainable businesses. The Enterprise Sustainability Programme by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) has set aside $180 million to build capabilities in sustainability and is expected to benefit over 6,000 enterprises.
8 The National Environment Agency (NEA) raised the maximum grant support for energy efficient technologies, under the Energy Efficiency Fund (E2F), from 50 per cent to 70 per cent of qualifying costs. We continue to support sectors through other grants, such as the Resource Efficiency Grant for Energy (REG(E)), the 3R Fund, and the Water Efficiency Fund. These measures will enable companies to pivot early to reduce emissions and save on operating costs in the long run.
9 We will continue to back the industry and the research community to unlock possibilities for a low-carbon future. Under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 (RIE2025) fund, we allocated $220 million for R&D in resource circularity and water technologies. Earlier this month, ASTAR also launched a new research institute, the Institute of Sustainability for Chemicals, Energy and Environment (ISCE²), to partner academics, public agencies, and industry to advance R&D in decarbonisation, green materials, and green processes.
10 Carbon services will be needed as we invest in new technologies and solutions in mitigation and adaptation, develop the carbon credit market, and mobilize capital for new growth sectors in sustainability. Singapore can be a place for innovation in finance, carbon services and sustainable reporting, measurement, and verification. And as we can see from today’s launch, Singapore can be a place where initiatives like BCG’s Climate and Sustainability Hub for Innovation in Asia can establish their footing, and pave the path forward for the region in effective climate action. The Green Economy pillar of the Green Plan embodies our aspiration to create many good jobs not only in the sustainability sector, but in enabling sectors such as consulting, legal, accounting, IT and R&D.
11 Let me conclude. Everyone has a role to play in advancing sustainable development and achieving sustainable outcomes. To realise Singapore’s net-zero ambitions and transition towards a low-carbon future, we need forward-looking corporations and responsible communities to do their part. I trust that BCG’s Climate and Sustainability Hub for Innovation in Asia will provide breadth and depth to Singapore as a knowledge hub for sustainability and be an effective catalyser of climate partnerships and action. With this, I wish the team a successful launch ahead.