Speech by Senior Minister Of State, Ministry of Trade And Industry & Ministry Of National Development Lee Yi Shyan at the UK-Singapore Green Growth And Business Forum
The Right Honourable Greg Clark,
Minister of State for Cabinet Office (Cities & Constitution), United Kingdom
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1.Good morning. I am glad to join you today at the UK-Singapore Green Growth and Business Forum, jointly organised by the British High Commission and Singapore government agencies – NCCS, MTI and MEWR.
2.I would also like to welcome Minister Greg Clark and his delegation to Singapore. I am glad that Minister Clark could invest a few days of his precious time with us here, participating in the Mayors Forum on Sunday and contributing as a panel speaker in yesterday’s World Cities Summit 2014 Opening Plenary. Minister Clark’s visit to Singapore itself is important and it also forms part of a series of frequent interactions we have between the leadership of our two countries.
3.UK and Singapore enjoy warm and multi-faceted relations. I had the pleasure of visiting London in 2012 for the London Olympics and last July, with a MND-BCA delegation to study UK’s construction best practices. Two weeks ago, I transited at Heathrow airport en-route to Washington DC. UK is a popular destination for many Singaporean tourists, students and business people.
4.The UK is Singapore’s 4th largest trading partner in the European Union (EU), accounting for 15 per cent of Singapore’s total trade with the EU. In 2011, we signed a UK-Singapore Economic and Business Partnership (EBP) Agreement to enhance our cooperation in trade and investments. Under the agreement, we singled out “Smart and Green Cities” as a priority sector for the 2014 work plan. It is thus fitting that we organise this forum to jointly explore ways in which we can better “Harness low-carbon growth opportunities”.
Sustainable Development: Challenges and Opportunities
5.Clearly, there are many drivers for sustainable development. One of which was climate change and its impact on us. In the first two months of this year, Singapore experienced the longest drought we have not seen in the last 143 years. For a country with an average rainfall of 2,300mm, many of us have long forgotten what drought felt like. Fortunately, during the period, our “four water-tap” strategy worked. Our water strategy was tested to its limits, but we did not have to ration water to the general population.
6.Just a few months ago, UK experienced its worst floods in 7 years and the wettest winter since records began in 1766. In terms of damage approximately 6,000 homes were flooded and 750,000 homes lost power in the severe weather over Christmas, with an estimated insurance cost of £1 billion pounds.
7.Extreme weather patterns are wreaking havocs in many parts of the world. Not reducing carbon emissions from human and industrial activities is no longer an option. Safeguarding our immediate environment, and protecting the common space and water bodies we all share, require global and coordinated actions.
8.It is quite clear from the discussions at the World Cities Summit, that there are both technical solutions and policy measures that city officials and national leaders can contemplate. While this may sound like additional financial expenses at first glance, the acceptance of more stringent emissions requirements has also created a whole host of new jobs and industries.
9.In fact, studies show that annual new investments in clean technologies have risen five-fold in the last decade, from $55 billion USD in 2004 to $254 billion USD in 2013. The growth trend has been particularly strong in the Asia-Pacific region, which now contributes 47 per cent of global clean energy investments . As Asia is poised for growth for many years to come, its demand for clean and low carbon solutions will present a sizeable market for solution providers. UK and Singapore firms can jointly work on these opportunities.
A green urban environment
10.In enhancing and maintaining Singapore’s clean and green urban environment, we are experimenting with green technologies. In Punggol Eco-town for instance, we are trying out intelligent energy and water management solutions to engage residents and reduce consumption. We are encouraging residents to consider green mobility options such as E-bicycles and to do more waste recycling.
11.Besides incorporating green features in new towns, we are also trying out ideas to retrofit mature estates to make them greener. For example, we carried out pilot projects to install solar panels, sensor-controlled LED lighting and home energy management systems in our public housing.
12.To reduce vehicular emissions in the longer term, we need to increase our public transport modal share through doubling our rail network and improving connections between transport modes. We are also launching an expanded National Cycling Plan to improve inter- and intra-town cycling connectivity.
13.To improve ambient air quality and public health, we need to actively review our air emission standards, in particular for local pollutants such as Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Particulate Matter (PM). To this end, we are encouraging the switch to cleaner fuels and technologies in the industry and transport sectors among other measures.
Improving resource efficiency
14.As Singapore imports most of our resource needs, we have made improving resource efficiency our top priority. This is reflected in our principle of pricing water and energy correctly to reflect scarcity and environmental externalities.
15.At the sectoral level, the Jurong Island version 2.0 initiative is an important example based on greater sharing and recycling of key resources such as water and energy to reduce wastage and improve efficiency of the petrochemical industry.
16.At the national level, the Energy Efficiency Programme Office coordinates efforts to improve energy efficiency across the economy. Various incentive schemes, such as the Grant for Energy Efficient Technologies, are available to help both MNCs and SMEs overcome market barriers and to adopt energy efficient technologies and solutions.
Building our capabilities in clean technology and urban solutions
17.As I mentioned earlier, the global drive for green and low carbon standards are creating new opportunities in industry development and jobs creation. In Singapore, we have taken a multi-pronged approach to facilitate green growth along the whole value chain – from investing upstream in Research & Development, to testbedding and demonstration pilots, and from scaling up for local deployment to developing Singapore-based companies for green export.
18.From 2011, Singapore has set aside an R&D budget of about $800 million to address our challenges. This will help to build a vibrant ecosystem of R&D and industry partners in areas such as sustainable manufacturing, environment & water, renewable energy, green buildings and land & liveability solutions.
19.I am pleased to note that our universities are collaborating in R&D. Cambridge Centre for Carbon Reduction in Chemical Technology (C4T) is a partnership between Cambridge University and National Research Foundation. C4T aims to tackle the complex problem of assessing and abating the carbon footprint of the integrated petrochemical plants and electrical network on Jurong Island in Singapore.
Green growth efforts in UK
20.As Minister Greg Clark shared in his address, the UK is at the forefront of the global green growth efforts. For example, the UK has adopted an ambitious 15 per cent renewable energy target by 2020 and carbon pricing policies such as the Climate Change Levy introduced more than ten years ago in 2001, and the Carbon Price Floor in April 2013 to improve the incentives to invest in low-carbon power generation. Today, UK is a world leader in offshore wind energy with an annual generation capacity of 8 “Terawatt-hours” (TWh) which can power 2 million homes. This is as much capacity as already installed in the rest of the world combined.
Importance of working together across boundaries and disciplines to develop solutions for Asia
21.There are many opportunities for Singapore and the UK to synergise our respective competencies and expertise to co-create sustainable solutions and drive the green growth movement. We can bring our solutions to rapidly urbanising China, South-East Asia and India. Last year, we took a delegation to the Tianjin Eco City, including several UK companies based in Singapore. We encourage more joint missions amongst our companies to other countries in Asia. Together, we hope to bring to the Asian markets, more comprehensive and complete green solutions.
22.In conclusion, I commend the organisers for this Green Growth and Business Forum and for bringing together UK and Singapore companies together to explore partnerships and green growth opportunities in Asia. I thank the right honourable Minister Greg Clark for speaking at this forum and visiting Singapore. I wish everyone a fruitful time ahead.
 Singapore’s 1st to 3rd largest trading partners in the EU is Germany, France and Netherlands in descending order.
 Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
 The $800 million in research funding comprises approximately of $300million for the Energy National Innovation Challenge, $195 million for the Energy Innovation Programme Office (EIPO), $140 million in the Environment and Water Industry Programme Office (EWI), $195million in the Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge (L2 NIC) and the remaining for research in green buildings
 The UK Carbon Price Floor is a tax on fossil fuels used to generate electricity which came into effect on 1st April 2013. It changes the existing Climate Change Levy by introducing a carbon price support to fossil fuel generated electricity, which provides more price certainty to the volatile and low EU Emissions Trade Scheme (ETS) prices.
 Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance