Speech by Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at the CapitaLand Sustainability X Challenge on 20 July 2022
Mr Miguel Ko, Chairman of CapitaLand Investment
Mr Lee Chee Koon, Group Chief Executive Officer of CapitaLand Investment
Ladies and gentlemen
1 Good afternoon. I am glad we are able to gather in person at today’s CapitaLand Sustainability X Challenge, after last year’s virtual edition.
2 First, I would like to thank CapitaLand for organising this challenge to encourage innovations in making buildings more climate-resilient and resource-efficient. This challenge offers the opportunity for outstanding proposals to be piloted at selected CapitaLand properties around the world. I understand that CapitaLand’s goal is to green 100 per cent of its buildings in Singapore and globally by 2030. It is heartening to see industry leaders such as CapitaLand committing to be net zero by 2050, and devoting resources towards innovation. I note that besides this challenge, CapitaLand has also set up a S$50 million CapitaLand Innovation Fund and the Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab.
Towards Net Zero
3 Climate change poses an existential threat to all of us. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC) report reminds us that the window to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all is rapidly closing. We must take immediate and extensive actions to keep our ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius alive.
4 Earlier this year, Singapore announced that we will raise our climate ambition to achieve net zero emissions by or around mid-century. To enable the transition to a low-carbon future, we will raise the carbon tax progressively, from the current S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions (tCO2e), to $25 per tonne in 2024 and 2025, and $45 per tonne in 2026 and 2027, with a view to reaching $50 - $80 per tonne by 2030. The eventual 2030 carbon tax level will be subject to further review to calibrate the pace of our transition to a low carbon future. The raised carbon tax could mean higher costs for energy usage for everyone, but it enables us to put an explicit cost on carbon emissions, encourage the adoption of technology, and steer 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.
5 In a low-carbon future, where goods and services with high carbon footprints are not as competitive, being sustainable is not only about saving the environment, but also about our jobs and livelihoods. Much like the rest of the world, Singapore needs to have a net zero target for our economy to stay competitive and relevant. If we do not keep up with sustainable development, we risk losing businesses and investments to other countries.
Reduce, Replace, Remove
6 To transition towards a low-carbon future, we need to practise the “3Rs” for carbon to transform our economy and lifestyles.
7 The first “R” is to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. Businesses can do this by pivoting towards sustainable activities and increasing energy efficiency, while individuals can lead more sustainable lifestyles through simple daily habits. For the Built Environment, reducing a building’s carbon footprint should be a key priority throughout the building’s lifecycle:
• In the design phase, the building should be designed with carbon and resource efficiency in mind, such as harnessing cross-ventilation and natural lighting.
• In the construction phase, construction methods and materials that result in lower emissions should be adopted.
• In the operations and maintenance phase, energy and resource consumption can be optimised through technology such as a building management system.
8 The second “R” is to replace fossil fuels with green energy as much as possible. We can do so via our electricity generation and vehicles. For example, we will be quadrupling our solar energy deployment by 2025 and incorporating solar panels on building rooftops, where feasible. There is also research being done on innovations such as vertical solar walls.
9 The third “R” is to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to offset the remaining emissions that are hard to reduce or replace. This can be done through forestry projects. However, we do not have enough land to scale many of these projects. Another strategy is to invest in high-quality carbon credits or low-carbon technologies, such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage. This could greatly enable our ability to achieve net zero.
Role of Built Environment Sector
10 The built environment sector is an important stakeholder in our fight against climate change, as it is responsible for about 40 per cent of carbon emissions globally. In Singapore, our buildings account for around 20 per cent of national emissions.
11 Our built environment industry is actively looking for solutions to reduce its carbon footprint, such as through today’s event. The Government is committed to work with the built environment sector through the Green Building Masterplan, which is an integral part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030. Together, we are targeting to achieve “80-80-80” (pronounced as 80 by 80 by 80). We aim to:
• Green 80 per cent of buildings by 2030, by encouraging existing building owners to explore solutions to improve energy performance;
• Strive for 80 per cent of new buildings to be Super Low Energy (SLE) buildings from 2030 — the public sector will lead on this, with all new public sector buildings and existing ones undergoing major retrofitting to be Green Mark Platinum Super Low Energy; and
• Seek 80 per cent improvement in energy efficiency for best-in-class buildings by 2030, where building owners and developers, and their value chains can co-create and accelerate solutions and commercialisation through industry partnerships.
12 Innovation is key in our net zero pursuit as we continue to push the boundaries of energy efficiency through development, test-bedding and deployment of greener technologies and solutions for buildings. Collaboration between the public and private sectors is also crucial in enabling game-changing solutions. The Government can drive the development of sustainable solutions, but our reach is limited. Commercialisation is the only way to achieve the multiplier effect in the private sector.
13 I thank CapitaLand once again for organising this challenge, and to all participants for putting tremendous time and effort into your proposals. I managed to see a few of the pitches by the finalists, and I am confident that your enthusiasm towards climate action will enable more innovative and sustainable solutions for the built environment.
14 We are at an inflection point in the fight against climate change. No matter which sector each of us are in, let us work together to accelerate our progress in achieving net zero. Collectively, we can address the climate crisis and advance the transition to a greener, more inclusive, and climate-resilient future.