Need for Singapore to take ‘accelerated action’ in pursuing lower carbon emissions, says climate expert
Singapore’s plans to ramp up carbon tax in the country will significantly reduce such emissions quickly, says Professor Mark Howden, a climate expert.
SINGAPORE: Singapore is putting in place policies and making commitments to reduce carbon emissions, but there needs to be “accelerated action” in the future, a climate expert said on Wednesday (Nov 9).
The comments from Professor Mark Howden came a day after Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said Singapore submitted a second update to its 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Ms Fu said in Parliament that Singapore indicated that it intends to reduce emissions to around 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2030. This is 5 million tonnes lower than what Singapore had set out in the first update in 2020.
The reduction of 5 million tonnes is "substantial" and is more than the total emissions from households today, she said.
Prof Howden, director of the Australian National University's Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions, said that while climate change is a collective problem that requires a collective solution, and that “every bit helps”, Singapore needs to move faster.
“If that is what Singapore is able to contribute at the moment, that's great, but there needs to be accelerated action in the future,” he told CNA938’s Asia First.
He noted that the country’s existing target is more than its historical emissions.
“Most countries have got targets which are less than their historical emissions. In Singapore's case, it's just going from way above its historical emissions to … slightly less than … those emissions,” he said.
Carbon emissions, which are produced when fossil fuels are burned, trap heat in the atmosphere and lead to climate change.
INCREASING CARBON TAX
“Having said that, clearly, Singapore is actually putting in place some policies which will hopefully drive those emissions down more significantly.”
He said that Singapore’s plans to ramp up carbon tax in the country will “significantly reduce” emissions quickly.
Singapore will raise its carbon tax to S$25 per tonne for greenhouse gas emissions in 2024 and 2025, and S$45 per tonne for greenhouse gas emissions in 2026 and beyond, after the Carbon Pricing (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament on Tuesday.
The progressive increases will set Singapore on a trajectory to reach between S$50 and S$80 per tonne by 2030, Ms Fu said during the second reading of the Bill.
“That is likely to drive down emissions quite quickly as businesses and other entities look to reduce their emissions profile,” Prof Howden said, adding that it is “very positive” that the country is also looking at how to reduce emissions from buildings, transport, and waste.
LOOKING TOWARDS TECHNOLOGY
He said given that Singapore is a small country with little land area to maximise the use of solar panels, technology may be a solution in its efforts to go green.
“There's a whole raft of those sort of technologies in every different sector, and we need to reduce those emissions. And so, I think there is a role for a high-tech country like Singapore,” he said.
He added that given that every greenhouse gas emission is linked to a consumer in some way or another, the public is “ultimately” responsible for these emissions in most circumstances.
“Understanding that each of us is a contributor to this problem means that we all have to be contributors to the solutions to this problem,” he said.
“I would argue that that's a combination of personal action, so to reduce your own greenhouse footprint, but also pushing up into government and into business and also into community groups and non-governmental organisations the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”