SINGAPORE: It is important for Singapore not to "lock into" technologies prematurely even as it strives for sustainability, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Monday (Jan 25).
Speaking at a panel discussion called Building "Net-Zero" Cities at a virtual event organised by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Ms Fu said that Singapore tries to take a "disciplined approach" when looking at the cost benefits of technologies.
"There are so many technologies out there. Some of them are more mature than the others. So it's important for us not to lock into any technology prematurely," added Ms Fu, who was responding to a question from moderator Cristina Gamboa who asked what some of the key lessons have been as Singapore attempts to pursue its climate agenda.
Ms Gamboa is CEO of the World Green Building Council.
"We have a disciplined way of looking at the carbon abatement versus the fiscal costs needed, so that we can come up with a very clear understanding of what are we to do, what are the steps to do, and most importantly, this framework actually allows us, the government agencies across the board, to have a common discussion about the plan."
Previously Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Fu now helms the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, formerly known as the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. She took over the position last year.
Ms Fu pointed out that it was important that sustainability was not solely the work of one ministry in Singapore.
"We'd like to think about our plans in a very holistic way. Sustainability actually is ... so integrated. It is not just the work of one single ministry or one single agency. It involves so many aspects of our lives that actually we need all parties to come together," she said.
Giving the example of how Singapore plans to make its public transportation more carbon efficient, Ms Fu noted how there are plans to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 by turning to electric vehicles.
This would mean supplying charging points for vehicles across Singapore, and this would require collaboration and agreement between all agencies and with the community, said Ms Fu.
"Therein lies also an opportunity ... opportunities for businesses to come in. Because the rules will change as technology disrupts the ways that we do things," she said.
"There are many of such examples that will be very exciting for us as a city, as a country, over the next few years to look at integrating our policies, making sure that as we move collectively towards carbon neutrality, we are integrated, we are moving along with everyone - the community, the financiers, as well as all agencies of the Government."
As such, Singapore would like to start by looking at the total carbon emissions, analyse which are the biggest emitters in the various sectors, before setting targets for the sectors, added Ms Fu.
"(This is) so that all the agencies that are involved have a clear understanding of where the projections (are), where the trajectory (is), and how to get there in time," she explained.
Ms Fu also noted that Singapore faces a number of challenges given the constraints it has in the field of renewable energy.
"But because of our constraints, because of our challenges, we are forced by circumstances to always think out of the box. And I think many solutions out there in other countries, in other cities, are really good examples for us to consider," she said.
"And if you think about the advantage of Singapore really because of our smallness, because (it is) a lot more integrated. Our decision making is also very comprehensive and we like to think that we are very data driven."