Keynote Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Ecosperity Week 2022 Opening Dinner on 7 June 2022
Mr Lim Boon Heng, Chairman of Temasek Holdings
Ladies and gentlemen
1 Good evening. I am glad to join you at the Opening Dinner of Ecosperity Week 2022, where we are once again able to gather in-person to advance collaborations to address the climate crisis.
2 Climate change is the defining crisis of our generation. As the latest IPCC reports remind us, the window to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all is rapidly closing. This looming threat demands our urgent, collective and coordinated action – across all countries, organisations, and individuals. We must keep up the international momentum, even amid other pressing priorities, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation and geostrategic challenges.
3 The theme of this year’s Ecosperity Week is “Accelerating Action at Scale”, and aptly comes at the start of what the UN Secretary-General called a “Decade of Action” to deliver on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
4 Action is key to Singapore’s drive towards sustainable development. Since independence, we have always balanced economic growth with environmental protection and social inclusion. Last year, we launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, a whole-of-nation movement to advance the national agenda on sustainable development and climate action.
5 In the past year, the Green Plan has generated tangible momentum and paved the way for Government, businesses, and our people to come together to accelerate action at scale. Let me offer three reflections from our journey thus far.
6 First, we must catalyse action throughout society to spur investments and economic activities towards inclusive transition. We can all play a role.
• The Government has committed to raise Singapore’s climate ambition to achieve net zero emissions by or around mid-century. To accelerate our transition, we will progressively raise our carbon tax from the current S$5 per tonne to S$50 to S$80 per tonne by 2030. This will enable us to put an explicit cost on emissions, spur the adoption of technology, and guide action towards sustainable practices. The carbon tax revenue will be used to support the transition to a greener economy through incentivising low-carbon solutions, and cushioning the transitional impact on businesses and households.
• Businesses increasingly recognise the opportunities available in the circular, low-carbon economy of the future. Many have made head-starts in harnessing sustainability as a competitive advantage. There are now more than 5,000 companies worldwide in the UN Race To Zero campaign, and among them are Singapore companies such as City Developments Limited (CDL), Olam International, Singtel and the Singapore Exchange (SGX). The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero mobilised over US$120 trillion of private capital to catalyse the transformation of the global economy towards net zero emissions by 2050.
• Against the mammoth task of combating climate change, individual action may feel insignificant and is indeed insufficient. However, our collective actions will enable us to achieve our ultimate common goals. Our consumption drives industry. If we avoid disposables, buy locally produced food and choose energy-efficient appliances, we will create ripple effects that accelerate the emergence of greener and more sustainable solutions.
7 This brings me to my next point – we must unlock more sustainable solutions. While the technologies and solutions to decarbonise still remain out of reach, or not yet commercially viable, collaboration within industry, and across industries will provide us with game-changing solutions.
• Last month, Singapore joined the First Movers Coalition, or FMC, as a Government Partner, alongside Denmark, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. The FMC will allow companies to harness purchasing power and supply chains to create early markets for innovative low-carbon technologies. This serves as a launchpad for them to reach commercial scale. I hope these would open doors for businesses in Singapore to innovate with like-minded partners and unlock access to low-carbon technologies.
• Domestically, we can also work together to discover synergistic solutions. For example, the Jurong Island Circular Economy study brought together 51 companies for the first time to map out the water, energy and waste flows on Jurong Island, our petrol chemical hub. Through this collaborative study, they discovered insights on how they could reduce resource use at a systems level and boost Jurong Island’s competitiveness and sustainability.
• The Government, in partnership with the private sector, is also keen to support pilots for low-carbon technologies and evaluating their potential to scale. One example is working with the private sector to establish the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation to pilot and deploy low-carbon technologies and fuels in the maritime sector. Another example is bringing together public research institutes and Energy & Chemicals companies for a Carbon Capture and Utilisation Translational Testbed.
8 Lastly, we must specialise to leverage and build on our strengths and expertise to accelerate the implementation of sustainable solutions.
• Singapore can leverage its position as a trusted global financial hub to propel the growth of green finance and carbon services in the region. This will enable businesses to access the capital they need to innovate, operationalise, and scale their green projects.
• Unlike many other countries, Singapore is highly disadvantaged by a lack of natural renewable energy sources. We do not have huge rivers to generate hydroelectricity nor sufficient land for wind turbines. Nonetheless, with the finalisation of the Article 6 rulebook on international carbon markets, there is renewed opportunity for Singapore as an international financial hub to support countries who have untapped natural renewable energy sources through carbon credits trading.
• Even within Singapore, collaboration between the public and private sectors is imperative. The public sector can create a conducive environment for sustainable solutions to grow, but its reach is muted without the private sector’s multiplier effect, which can only be achieved through commercialisation.
9 Distinguished guests, we stand at the cusp of a global revolution for sustainable development. This revolution will be driven by policymakers, businesses, and consumers who recognise the need for and opportunities available in a circular, low-carbon economy. In this revolution, no one has a monopoly on solutions. The key to a greener future lies in collaboration and partnerships.
10 I thank Temasek for hosting this conference, which I am sure will lead to many meaningful partnerships and innovative solutions to allow us as a global community to address the climate crisis and advance the transition to a greener, more inclusive, climate-resilient future.