SINGAPORE: As part of efforts to tackle climate change, Singapore will aim to halve its 2030 peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and to achieve net zero emissions "as soon as viable" in the second half of the century, said Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean on Friday (Feb 28).
This move is part of the country's long-term low-emission development strategy (LEDS), said Mr Teo during the Committee of Supply debate. In addition, Singapore will also enhance its nationally determined contribution (NDC), to peak emissions at the equivalent of 65 million tonnes of carbon dioxide around 2030 and expand the scope of its pledge to include a seventh greenhouse gas, nitrogen trifluoride, within this ceiling.
This is in line with Singapore's existing NDC set in 2015, where the Government had pledged that by 2030, it would reduce emission intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels.
"Our enhanced 2030 NDC and LEDS build on policies and initiatives we have progressively implemented over the years. They demonstrate our seriousness and commitment to support international climate action and a low carbon future," said Mr Teo, who chairs the inter-ministerial committee on climate change, which was formed in 2007.
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"Setting out our vision well in advance, will provide a clear sense of direction, and give ourselves and our stakeholders, the time to effect a well-managed transition to a low-carbon economy. This will also allow us to grow new sectors in our economy, and create new jobs and opportunities."
Singapore will submit this enhanced NDC to the Paris Agreement and its LEDS to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change later this year, Mr Teo said.
"Constraining our total emissions within this absolute cap up to 2030 means that every sector in Singapore will need to put in significant effort to limit our emissions," said Mr Teo.
"We will need to do so in order to move towards a low carbon nation in the coming decade, with new commercial and industrial enterprises, and new growth areas such as the digital economy. We all have to play a part in reducing our emissions to meet our 2030 commitment."
The development of Singapore's enhanced NDC and LEDS has been guided by a "principled approach", which is "considered, committed and collective", explained Mr Teo.
"Our climate policies and strategies are carefully and thoroughly considered," he said.
"At the same time, we are not exclusively focused on climate change. We look at realistic and practical policies and measures we can implement, taking into account the best available science and technology, and fully integrated with the larger context of the entire range of challenges we face in our national policy framework."
And while Singapore has "limited" alternative energy options, facing "serious constraints compared to better-endowed countries", it remains committed to doing its best, said Mr Teo.
To achieve its LEDS, Singapore will adopt a strategy with three thrusts, said Mr Teo. This means transformations in industry, economy, and society, drawing on technologies such as carbon capture, as well as international collaboration in areas such as well-functioning carbon markets.
"Each thrust will contribute to halving our emissions. We will pursue all three vigorously to achieve our aspiration," he said.
"The extent to which potential emission reductions from each thrust can be realised will become clearer in the coming years, as we gain experience from implementing our programmes, as technology evolves, and as the modalities for international collaboration and collaboration become formalised. If the actual reductions from each thrust are larger than we now assess, or are available sooner, then we can realise our aspiration earlier.
"On the other hand, if the potential reductions turn out to be less promising, we will still strive to meet our LEDS aspiration to the best of our ability even though the task becomes more difficult."
AN ASYMMETRICAL CHALLENGE
While Singapore's impact on global emissions is small - the greenhouse gases generated by Singapore represents about 0.11 per cent of global emissions - the effect of climate change on the country is "disproportionately large and indeed existential", said Mr Teo.
This leads to an "asymmetrical challenge" for small island nations like Singapore and the country needs to plan for the "real prospect" that sea levels will rise by up to 1m by 2100, he added.
"We need to implement these adaptation plans to protect our country and people. We cannot rely on anyone else to do this for us," Mr Teo said.
Singapore has taken action by raising the platform level for all new reclamation projects, and even higher for key new facilities, he pointed out.
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A new Coastal and Flood Protection fund with an initial injection of S$5 billion by the Government will also be set up as Singapore prepares to deal with the "significant" risk of rising sea levels, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had said in his Budget speech on Feb 18.
While the strategy for climate action involves government planning, Mr Teo emphasised the need for collective action. And as part of the Singapore Together movement, the Government will create more partnership opportunities for Singaporeans to advance climate action, he pointed out.
"We need all Singaporeans – government, individuals, households, and businesses – all of us, to do our part, and work together as a whole of nation," he said.
"Let us work together to secure the future of Singapore as a climate resilient nation – with a competitive economy, sustainable environment, an environmentally responsible and active citizenry, and a good quality of life for all."