CLOSING REMARKS BY MR DESMOND TAN, MINISTER OF STATE FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AT THE SECOND SUSTAINABILITY EXCHANGE FINAL SHOWCASE ON 27 MAY 2022
Ladies and gentlemen
Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me back to the Sustainability Exchange.
RAISING OUR CLIMATE AMBITION
2 We have seen significant progress in global climate action since I launched this mentorship programme last October. Breakthroughs were achieved at COP26 in November last year and more countries have made net zero pledges.
3 Singapore is keeping pace with these developments. We have announced our ambition to achieve net zero by or around mid-century. To achieve this goal, we have introduced measures such as raising our carbon tax progressively to $50 to $80 by 2030, and imposing a carrier bag charge from 2023 to nudge individuals towards more sustainable practices and consumption habits.
SUPPORTING BUSINESSES AND SOCIETY THROUGH THE GREEN TRANSITION
4 These measures will translate into higher costs to businesses and society, but are necessary to ensure a green, liveable future for Singapore. We are supporting businesses in developing capabilities for this transition to a low-carbon economy through the Enterprise Sustainability Programme. We have also raised the grant support under the Energy Efficiency Fund to help companies implement energy efficient improvement and carbon abatement projects.
5 We are aware that the increased costs on businesses will impact consumers. For instance, an increase of the carbon tax to $25 per tonne by 2024 is expected to translate into a $4 increase in utilities bill for a regular household living in a four-room flat. We will support households in managing this increased cost, such as through additional U-Save rebates. One-, two- and three-room flat owners are also eligible for the Climate Friendly Household Package, which can be used to offset the costs of purchasing energy and water-efficient appliances.
OPPORTUNITIES IN THE GREEN ECONOMY
6 While achieving net zero will be challenging as we adjust to carbon constraints, this is also an opportunity to develop a new growth engine. Under the Green Economy pillar of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, we will transform Jurong Island into a sustainable energy and chemicals park. We are also leveraging our position as a financial hub to develop ourselves into a carbon services hub, a leading centre for Green Finance and Regional Centre for developing new sustainability solutions.
7 The Green Economy presents many exciting opportunities ahead. As companies decarbonise, new jobs will be created, and demand for green talent will grow. The LinkedIn 2022 Global Green Skills Report released in February this year found that job postings requiring green skills grew at 8 per cent annually over the past five years. Closer to home, the SkillsFuture Singapore’s inaugural national skills report released last December noted that over 450 job roles across 17 sectors such as manufacturing, built environment, and financial services require green skills in their job tasks.
PREPARING OUR YOUTHS FOR THE GREEN ECONOMY
8 Regardless of our experience in the workforce, there is potential for each and everyone to be a part of this transition. Institutions and companies have rolled out programmes to equip our workforce with the necessary skills for the future. For example, the Singapore Motor Workshop Association has worked with various agencies to train technicians in servicing electric and hybrid vehicles as we phase out internal combustion engine vehicles. Across our tertiary institutions, there are more than 100 Continuing Education and Training (CET) courses for those working in industries facing a “green transition”.
9 Those of you who are still pursuing your studies will be familiar with the sustainability-related modules and full-time programmes available in your respective institutions. For example, the Singapore Management University and National University of Singapore have integrated sustainability and climate change into their undergraduates’ core curriculum, while Republic Polytechnic has launched a Diploma in Environmental and Marine Science to prepare students for roles involved in protecting the environment and marine life.
10 The acquisition of such knowledge needs to be complemented with real-life experiences. I thank EB Impact and your partners for organising the Sustainability Exchange. Such mentorship programmes provide our youths with the opportunity to address sustainability issues in the real-world context, which would benefit them as they embark on their careers. I hope that the participating companies and mentors have also gained fresh insights through the lenses of your participants and found new ideas for your businesses.
11 To our participants, I hope that you will continue to rally the wider community in doing their part for climate action. As you enter the workforce, I also hope that you will bring forth insights gleaned, and innovative ideas learnt through the Sustainability Exchange to help your company transform. My Ministry’s SG Eco Fund offers seed funding support for projects that advance environmental sustainability, and you are welcome to tap on it. I look forward to seeing your proposals materialise in the near future.
12 Let me conclude. Singapore’s raised ambition to achieve net zero is a bold and decisive move that we are taking to ensure a green, liveable future for our people. All stakeholders – from the Government to companies and individuals - will have a role to play and must work together to ensure that every segment of society can be a part of. and benefit from. this transition.
13 Beyond decarbonisation efforts, we are heartened to see companies taking the initiative to offer our youths guidance and mentorship to prepare them for the green economy. For our youths, there are many opportunities for you to be a part of this green movement, whether in your personal capacity or when you enter the workforce. I encourage you to take every opportunity to develop your skills, pilot solutions and rally the people around you to take climate action.
14 My congratulations to our winners today. I hope everyone here has benefitted from the second Sustainability Exchange, and I look forward to your continued ideas and contributions.