Speech By Deputy Secretary, Prime Minister's Office, Strategy Group Cindy Khoo at the WWF-Singapore Earth Hour Summit 2023
Taking Decisive Steps Together
Mr Raghunathan, CEO of WWF-Singapore
Ladies and gentlemen
A good afternoon to all of you, and I am very happy to be here. A huge congratulations to the WWF-Singapore team for this wonderful first half of the inaugural Earth Hour Summit. It has been enlightening and exciting to talk to people who are passionate about climate issues.
a. Many of you gathered here today – more than 500 I hear, business leaders, thought leaders, and change agents – to discuss an issue that is close to our hearts.
b. I would imagine that a lot of what I will say today is preaching to the converted, and I do not need to persuade you on the importance of taking action.
c. What I hope to share in today’s session is some of the plans that the Government has put in place.
d. As Mr Frederick Chew nicely described just now, these plans provide a bedrock for collaborations to take place. Beyond a bedrock, we hope to provide a scaffolding for collaborations to scale to greater heights.
To start, we all know that climate change is a global challenge which requires concerted, collective climate action.
a. It is in this spirit that 194 parties ratified the historic Paris Agreement.
b. So let’s not forget this momentous milestone that we achieved.
c. In the private sector, over 700 of the largest publicly traded companies have also pledged net zero targets, while the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, or GFANZ, a coalition of over 550 financial institutions, has committed to accelerate the decarbonisation of the global economy.
Singapore, as a country, does not move the needle in global emissions as we are tiny, but we are doing our part as a responsible global citizen.
a. Last year, we made a firm decision to raise our climate ambition.
b. We enhanced our 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions and pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
c. To steward a sustainable environment for future generations, it will take years of dedicated and consistent action, and we have to start now.
Accelerating Low-Carbon Transition
It will not be easy, and we will need all stakeholders and segments of our economy and society to contribute to our decarbonisation journey.
On the part of the Government, we are laying out the progress milestones and broad-based policies to put everyone on a strong footing to reach our target, together.
a. As Minister Grace Fu said earlier, we have implemented a carbon tax policy to provide a price signal, and to spur businesses, investors, and consumers to take bolder climate action.
b. Alongside the broad-based price signal, we have introduced various sectoral policies and strategies to decarbonise our economy.
c. For today, allow me to elaborate on the Industry, Power and Transport sectors, which are our largest primary emitters.
First, on industry. As the largest source of emissions in Singapore, the transformation of our Industry sector is key. But we know that businesses will need some help, as they plan and make investments to maintain a competitive advantage in a low-carbon future.
a. We also know that businesses are at various stages of their sustainability journey, and many are grappling with how to start.
b. A business survey conducted by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry last year found that most respondents, mostly Small and Medium Enterprises, or SMEs, have implemented sustainability measures only to a small or moderate extent.
c. To help SMEs understand their carbon footprint and establish a sustainability strategy, we have stepped up targeted capacity building support.
d. The Enterprise Sustainability Programme launched by Enterprise Singapore in 2021, helps SMEs adopt sustainability-related standards, develop sustainable solutions, finance these solutions, and build capabilities in sustainability reporting and carbon accounting.
e. Beyond funding and capability development support, there are common platforms that allow SMEs to quickly get into action and start making plans for their companies, as Mr Frederick Chew shared.
f. For companies that are more ready – some have established sustainability strategies and identified resource efficiency projects or low-carbon solutions – they may still face significant upfront investments and cost considerations.
g. We have therefore put in place support schemes such as the Resource Efficiency Grant for Energy, as well as Energy Efficiency Fund to help defray these costs.
h. Please feel free to tap on these support schemes, as they are currently underutilised. We welcome applicants to apply for the funds.
For the power sector, which is our second largest emitter, we are accelerating the energy transition to reduce our emissions, while keeping our economy and homes powered.
a. Solar energy remains the most promising renewable energy source for us, and we are making big strides in domestic solar deployment.
b. Singapore has now become one of the most solar-dense cities and is on track to achieve our deployment target of at least 2 gigawatt-peak by 2030, which could generate enough energy to meet the annual electricity needs of around 350,000 households.
Unfortunately, as you may know, Singapore is very small and our land scarcity does puts a limit on how much solar deployment we can achieve.
a. The Solar Research Institute of Singapore has estimated that the maximum technical potential for solar can only meet 10% of Singapore’s projected electricity demand in 2050, even after maximising all usable areas and ultra-high efficiency technologies.
b. To complement domestic solar deployment, we have to tap on regional low-carbon electricity imports to further decarbonise our power sector.
c. We have started a two-year trial to import 100 megawatts of electricity from Laos, and signed a similar two-year trial with Malaysia earlier this year.
At the same time, we are exploring other low-carbon alternatives to power our economy.
a. For example, hydrogen is an increasingly promising solution for Singapore.
b. We recognise that there are uncertainties on the maturity of hydrogen technologies.
c. We launched the National Hydrogen Strategy at last year’s Singapore International Energy Week to share the steps we will be taking.
d. We welcome our industry and international partners to join us on this journey, and hopefully develop an efficient solution for Singapore.
e. We know that there are risks involved before we can get to a cost-effective solution, but we have to start somewhere.
Now, moving on to Transport. The successful decarbonisation of the power sector has an amplifying effect on the other sectors, such as in the transport sector where there are plans are in action to green our vehicle population.
a. We have set a target to have all passenger and small goods vehicles in Singapore run on cleaner energy by 2040, and will start by mandating all newly registered cars and taxis to run on cleaner energy from 2030 onwards.
b. To accelerate electric vehicle adoption, at least 12,000 EV charging points will be deployed by 2025, and we aim to get to 60,000 charging points by 2030.
Greening of our vehicle population goes hand in hand with our move to a car-lite society.
a. Through continued enhancements of our transportation infrastructure, such as expanding our rail network to almost 400km in 2040 and more than doubling our cycling network by the end of the decade, we are aiming for 90% of peak-period walk, cycle or ride journeys to be under 45 minutes by 2040.
b. The vision is to position public transport as an attractive and viable substitute for private transport. This reduces our carbon footprint, and also frees up land for other uses, including public green spaces.
Having laid out these sector level plans, we must remember that successful implementation and transformation is dependent on the people who are involved – being able to adopt new mindsets, new mental models, while learning new skills and new ways of working.
a. People is our main resource, and we must invest in developing a capable and agile workforce to seize new and transformed green job opportunities availed by this transition.
b. This includes not only the upskilling and reskilling of our workforce, but to be realistic, helping displaced workers get new and better jobs.
c. The Ministry of Trade and Industry earlier announced that we will be working with industry players and training providers to support Singaporeans in this effort.
Now, as individuals – not just as business leaders or workers, but as consumers – we also have a role to play in our decarbonisation journey.
a. There are existing community outreach and public education programmes to help inculcate good habits for individuals as we move to be a zero-waste nation.
b. They will be further stepped up, to raise societal awareness on sustainability and climate change issues.
Ultimately, the question that we need to pose to everyone – can we be a climate-friendly society, where consumers, as a norm, opt for more resource-efficient options in the way we work, live and play?
a. To support individuals to make such informed decisions, the Government has mandated water efficiency and energy labels for home appliances to provide consumers with more information.
b. But we know that greener products today tend to be more expensive, we are also giving more support to lower-income households, through the Climate Friendly Household Programme, which provides e-vouchers to make climate-friendly appliances more affordable.
International Collaboration to Push the Next Bound
Today, I’ve talked about the industry, power, and transport sectors.
There are many more to cover, and we are working hard to develop new needle moving solutions, especially for hard-to-abate sectors such as heavy industry, aviation, and maritime transport.
In many of these sectors, low-carbon solutions currently do not exist, are not financially sustainable, or are lacking in scale.
a. We need strong international cooperation and investment in technology and research to realise our low-carbon ambitions.
b. For example, we are investing in research and development on low-carbon hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation, and storage, or CCUS for short.
c. The Low-carbon Energy Research Funding Initiative was launched in 2021 to lower the barrier-to-entry for the development of these low-carbon energy technologies.
d. For the first Grant Call, we had encouraging returns and saw strong interest, with more than 50 research proposals received and a total of $55 million awarded to 12 of these proposals.
e. As an aviation, maritime and logistics hub, we are hoping that Singapore’s research and pilot efforts can help the industry establish guidelines and standards, especially in the supply, transportation and storage of low-carbon hydrogen.
f. We also sign Memoranda of Understanding, or MoUs, with like-minded partners internationally to facilitate cross-pollination of ideas and collaborate on pilot projects.
g. Hopefully, these cross-border collaborations will allow us to tap on a wider pool of knowledge to accelerate the development and deployment of these low-carbon solutions, not only for us, but also for our partners in the other countries.
h. Several of these MoUs, such as with Chile and Japan, were signed to develop rules and guidelines to facilitate the scaling of such pilot projects.
For everything that we do in Singapore, we are looking to also make an impact beyond our borders.
a. We sit in a region that is rich with natural capital, and Singapore can be a regional hub for nature-based climate solutions that reduce carbon, while supporting biodiversity conservation and environmental protection.
b. We have partners here, such as the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions and the International Blue Carbon Institute, who are actively exploring potential nature-based and blue carbon solutions in the region and beyond.
c. To facilitate collective climate action on the international front, we have always been a strong proponent of developing trusted carbon markets backed by quality environmental integrity standards.
d. At COP26 and 27, Minister Grace Fu co-facilitated negotiations on the Article 6 rulebook, which sets the rules for cross-border cooperation on mitigation.
e. We have since signed MoUs and agreements with other countries that are aligned with the rulebook, to advance both countries’ climate ambitions collectively through the sharing of carbon credits.
To conclude, let’s be clear. Singapore is shifting gears to climate action and implementation. We have a clear goal, clear plans, and it’s about translating plans to action at all levels of the economy and society.
A collective effort is key to accelerate this low-carbon transition, while ensuring that our companies and workers remain competitive.
Together, let us build a greener future for everyone.
 Net Zero Stocktake 2022, Net Zero Tracker
 Energy 2050 Committee Report. Usable areas include rooftops, facades, mobile / land-based PV, floating PV and infrastructural PV.