Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Green Growth and Business Forum 2016, 12 July 2016
SPEECH BY DR AMY KHOR, SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES, AT THE GREEN GROWTH AND BUSINESS FORUM 2016, 12 JULY 2016
Your Excellency, British High Commissioner, Scott Wightman,
Mayor of Copenhagen, Morten Kabell,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good morning to all of you, especially to our international guests who are here to attend the second Green Growth & Business Forum (GGBF).
Singapore and the UK share close and robust economic ties. In 2015, the UK was Singapore’s 4th largest trading partner and our top investment destination in Europe. The UK is also the second largest source of Foreign Direct Investment from Europe into Singapore. Singapore is the UK’s largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN). There are more than 4,000 British companies in Singapore, and many of them use Singapore as a base to access the emerging markets in Southeast Asia. ASEAN represents a region of more than 600 million people with a rapidly growing middle class.
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), launched last year in 2015, has transformed ASEAN into a highly competitive single market and production base. With our complementary strengths, Singaporean and British businesses are natural partners to take advantage of the economic opportunities brought about by the AEC. Indeed, there is much more we can do, and our bilateral ties can be further strengthened through closer collaboration and partnerships.
Climate change provides green growth opportunities for businesses
Last year, 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the UK and Singapore, adopted the landmark Paris Agreement. This Agreement is a powerful signal to businesses that the world can no longer delay its response to climate change as it threatens the security, health and livelihood of everyone.
In line with the Paris Agreement, Singapore has pledged to reduce our Emissions Intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and to stabilise emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030. We released our Climate Action Plan a few days ago. Achieving our objectives and plans will require concerted efforts by the government, individuals, and businesses.
Climate change provides significant opportunities for businesses. There is tremendous growth potential for entrepreneurship, R&D and creative problem-solving among communities and businesses in mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change. One interesting example of such creative design is Singapore’s very own National Stadium, designed by a UK-based company, Arup. It features an innovative energy-efficient spectator cooling system that delivers cooled air to every seat in the stadium. These pockets of cooled air will reduce energy use significantly, compared to conventional overhead cooling systems.
According to the 2015 report by the New Climate Economy, global analysis shows that low-carbon solutions represent a US$16.6 trillion opportunity worldwide, based only on energy savings from low-carbon investments. The global potential for green growth is significant, fuelled by rising demand for clean technologies from governments and businesses worldwide.
Singapore is a vibrant market for green growth
On this note, Singapore places considerable focus in creating a vibrant market that promotes green growth. In the area of renewable energy, Singapore plans to raise the adoption of solar power in our system to 350 Mega-Watt-peak (MWp) by 2020 under the SolarNova programme that aggregates solar demand amongst government agencies. This is a significant increase from the present 60MWp  of installed capacity today, and an ambitious step given our small land area and high urban density. This will build up and support the solar ecosystem in Singapore, in manufacturing, project development, system integration, financing and so on.
Demand for renewable energy is also picking up in the private sector. As most of you are aware, Apple announced in October last year that they will rely entirely on solar energy for its operations in Singapore through a first-of-its-kind Offsite Power Purchase Agreement. With solar power approaching grid parity worldwide and new financing models such as solar leasing in Singapore, there is strong reason and a viable environment for businesses to consider solar adoption.
Recognising the market demand, a pilot project for renewable energy certificates has been launched in Singapore by APX, an American environmental infrastructure solutions provider. This project is in partnership with the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore and there are plans to expand it to the region. We invite all of you to also, either through adopting solar energy or as a part of the industry, join us in catalysing the growth of renewable energy in Singapore.
Singapore as a hub to develop and commercialise sustainable urban solutions
Singapore aims to be a smart, sustainable and liveable city, and a leader in innovating and commercialising green solutions. We recognise the importance of fostering strong partnerships between businesses, research institutions, and the public sector to spur innovation and creative problem-solving in urban sustainability. This is in fact, one of the central themes of our Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 where Singapore aims to become a Leading Green Economy – where businesses are known for doing well by doing good.
As such, Singapore has positioned itself as a living laboratory by availing our national urban infrastructure to companies for the development, testing and commercialisation of innovative solutions. The aim is to provide a space for relevant stakeholders to create and deploy new urban solutions, especially those relevant to the tropics. The Singapore Government has also allocated $935 million of funding to the Urban Solutions and Sustainability domain for the next five years under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan. This funding will support projects in the area of energy, land and water, helping to improve resource efficiency and management.
One such project facilitates the introduction of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in Singapore, through the government’s partnership with over 50 private organisations and research institutes. Arising from this collaboration, 1,000 EVs, complemented by an island-wide charging infrastructure comprising up to 2,000 charging points, would be introduced under a proposed EV Car Sharing programme.
To date, Singapore’s green economy has generated around 60,000 jobs, contributing around $6.2 billion to our GDP. There is great potential for all of us to do more and to make Singapore an ideal starting point for businesses to develop and scale up innovative technologies for larger markets in the region.
Singapore as a springboard for businesses to reach regional and global markets
Being in the heart of Asia, Singapore is well positioned to harness green growth opportunities internationally – and therefore, to place your company on the global map. Through our research funding to local institutions, test-bedding platforms, and partnerships with the private sector, Singapore has created vibrant ecosystems in various domains such as waste and water.
Our early adoption of innovative solutions such as NEWater (wastewater reclamation) has allowed companies to apply water and waste treatment technology developed in Singapore to markets abroad, buoyed by Singapore’s business-friendly environment and good market connectivity. For example, since 2008, Evoqua developed their electrochemical desalination technology with PUB and EDB’s support, and has gone on to commercialize the technology globally.
Through our business-friendly infrastructure, we welcome companies all over the world to co-opt Singapore as the go-to place to develop, test-bed and deploy creative and sustainable urban solutions. We also hope to establish Singapore as the launch pad for these solutions to the region and beyond.
With the abundant green growth opportunities present before us, the key questions now are (1) how can businesses harness such opportunities and (2) how can we accelerate this growth? I trust that we may be able to address some of these questions over the next two days, and identify new opportunities in the pursuit of low carbon and sustainable solutions, be it for Singapore, the UK or the region.
Let me wish you an enjoyable and fruitful experience at this forum. Thank you.
 As of 2015