SINGAPORE: The Singapore Green Plan 2030, a nationwide push for sustainability, aims to use government influence in “a more concrete way” to drive action, said sustainability and environment minister Grace Fu on Friday (Feb 26).
The plan, launched earlier this month, charts Singapore’s green targets over the next 10 years, and is spearheaded by five ministries, including the education, national development and transport ministries.
“An important element in (the plan) is how the public service will use its resources, use its collective influence to bring about sustainability,” said Ms Fu, who was speaking after a screening of A Wicked Problem, a climate change documentary series by CNA.
She was speaking to the series' host, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary.
Specifically, one example of using resources to spur sustainability would be using grant funding to “influence stakeholders to move” in the realm of research and development (R&D), she said.
“R&D typically has a very long gestation lead time, but at the same time also a high risk of failure.
"And this is where the Government will have to take a big part of funding, because corporates will not want to take the kind of risk,” she said.
Beyond that, she noted the Government is also "in a position to influence" when it comes to the institutions that it funds, such as hospitals, schools and universities.
“These are all public institutions that, I think, can think about sustainability in a more practical way, in a more immediate way.
“So I think with what we're coming up with, a GreenGov.SG plan, it’s to use government influence in a more concrete way, and we hope to see more immediate results, not for (30 or 40 years) but the next five, 10 years,” she said.
WHAT ROLES DO COMPANIES PLAY?
Moving on to the role of corporates, an audience member raised that companies may be unwilling or unsure of how they can contribute, because they feel the Government has done enough.
Dr Puthucheary agreed this was a recurrent sentiment among those interviewed in the show.
The four-part series investigates what Singapore is doing to combat climate change, and includes topics such as plastic, energy and food.
“This came up again and again in the series … this idea that we're a victim of our success,” he said.
READ: Singapore targets to halve peak emissions by 2050, achieve net zero emissions 'as soon as viable' in second half of century
In response, Ms Fu said there was some basis for these comments.
“To give you an example, for the last 20 years, two decades, our GDP compounded growth was 5 per cent but our CO2 is less than 2 per cent, which means that actually we have been growing our GDP (in) a less energy-intensive or CO2-intensive way,” she said.
Ms Fu added that because Singapore is “not starting from zero”, it is harder to make improvements when being held to reduction benchmarks or indicators.
“It takes a lot more effort for that kind of improvement because we are pushing to the frontier of technologies,” she said.
Nevertheless, she said there is still much room for corporates to get involved in sustainability, especially in the power generation and industrial sectors.
For instance, companies can make the decision to be greener individually, but working to do so as a cluster could create more cost efficiencies, she said.
She added that the sustainability and environment ministry and the trade and industry ministry have started the ball rolling on these discussions.
“When we're looking at transformation of the industry, the sustainability angle should come in, so that we can leapfrog and get our industries ready for a much more low-carbon economy,” said Ms Fu.
A Wicked Problem will air on CNA every Monday at 9pm, from Mar 1 to Mar 22.