The National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) conducted a public consultation on Singapore’s Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy from 16 Jul to 30 Sep 2019. Several engagement sessions were also organised between Aug 2019 and Jan 2020 to facilitate in-depth discussions with stakeholders such as green groups, academics and businesses from various sectors.
A summary of the key feedback and NCCS’ initial responses is listed below. The detailed feedback and responses can be found in this Annex.
Respondents called for more ambitious climate action given the urgent need to address climate change, and for Singapore’s climate ambition to be aligned with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, to peak well before 2030 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Other respondents highlighted the various challenges involved in significantly reducing emissions.
The Government is committed to ensuring Singapore transits to a low carbon future, but this will also require greater climate action by everyone, including businesses, community groups, and individuals. As technologies develop or mature, there will be scope for greater reduction of our emissions.
Energy Use Reduction and Efficiency Improvements
For the industry sector, several companies cited high capital cost, low Return-On-Investments, and difficulties in upgrading existing sites as barriers to implementing improvement projects. Some companies said that the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for industrial equipment would be very important to set industry standards, while others called for more grants or incentives to encourage greater improvements in energy efficiency. Companies hoped to learn more about solutions through online platforms and form stronger partnerships between companies and research institutes.
The Government has enhanced grants for industrial companies to adopt energy efficient technologies and will look at ways to improve knowledge sharing, actively seek partnerships with companies and other industry stakeholders on initiatives to raise industrial energy efficiency, and continue to help companies overcome the challenges they face in this area, and to achieve an annual improvement of 1 to 2 per cent in industrial energy efficiency.
For the building sector, companies faced an issue of split incentives for tenants and landlords in reducing energy consumption – landlords paid for upfront retrofit costs, while tenants enjoyed savings from a lower electricity bill. Several respondents said that some energy-saving practices could be more widely adopted, such as higher air-conditioning temperature settings and motion-sensor lighting. Some suggested a range of enhancements to the BCA Green Mark scheme.
For the household sector, respondents suggested that the MEPS and Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme (MELS) could be enhanced, and highlighted the need for better understanding of energy labels and the potential cost savings from using energy efficient appliances. Others suggested using a combination of education and incentives (such as tiered electricity pricing) to encourage energy-saving practices.
Energy efficiency improvement and energy reduction will continue to be a key mitigation strategy for the building and household sector. BCA has set a target to green 80% of buildings in Singapore by 2030. The Building Retrofit Energy Efficiency Financing (BREEF) Scheme is in place to help building owners overcome the high upfront cost by having BCA co-share the default risk of these retrofits with financial institutions. The suggestions received will be fed into the Government’s regular reviews of existing schemes and in the development of new policies. This includes the potential expansion of the MELS and MEPS to cover more appliances, where feasible.
Decarbonising the Transport Sector
Public transport was cited as the most carbon efficient means of transportation. Some respondents called for disincentives for private car ownership and road usage, while others suggested ways to increase the usage of public transportation, including providing more consistent bus schedules, and more affordable concession prices for commuters.
Many respondents suggested to increase the uptake of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and some expressed concerns about the scarcity of charging infrastructure, the existing price differential between EVs and non-EVs, the long charging period, and the shortcomings of existing battery technology. Suggestions included subsidies and tax rebates, positive public messaging, and clearer policy direction on Singapore’s future EV market.
The Government is examining how to better support the greater adoption of cleaner and greener vehicles such as EVs. For public transport, the commitment is to put in place cleaner energy bus and taxi fleets by 2040. The Government will continue to enable and promote more sustainable public, active and shared modes of transport. The strategies in the Land Transport Master Plan 2040, such as wider footpaths, dedicated cycling paths, and improved rail connectivity and reliability, will improve the ease, convenience and safety of public and shared transport.
Some respondents supported the existing approach of applying a uniform carbon price with no exemptions, while some suggested having a tiered tax system or having higher carbon tax levels that only apply to emissions above a set benchmark level, or an emissions trading scheme. While some respondents said that the current carbon tax level was too low, others cautioned that future carbon tax levels would have to be carefully calibrated to ensure that our industries remained internationally competitive. Some respondents suggested that certain trade-exposed emitters should be exempted, while others suggested that small emitters below the 25 ktCO2e threshold should be included. Respondents also supported the use of international carbon credits to meet companies’ tax liabilities.
The Government will carefully evaluate the feedback received on Singapore’s carbon tax. A simple carbon tax was chosen with no exemptions for covered facilities, to maintain a transparent, fair, and consistent price signal across the economy to incentivise emission reductions. The initial carbon tax level of $5/tCO2e is for a transition period of five years to give companies time to adjust to the impact of the tax by implementing energy efficiency measures, and the carbon tax will be raised to between $10/tCO2e and $15/tCO2e by 2030. The Government will consider the suggestions received on the future carbon tax level, the carbon pricing mechanism, and the use of international carbon credits.
Respondents suggested ways to encourage the deployment of solar in Singapore, including potential sites such as facades, MRT infrastructure, walkways, and roads. Several respondents suggested offering incentives and rebates to encourage solar deployment on private and building rooftops. Respondents also suggested that Singapore could consider tapping on other forms of renewable energy, such as geothermal, tidal and wind power, and called for Singapore to participate in the initiative to establish an ASEAN grid, and to import solar-generated electricity from the region. There were mixed responses with regard to the willingness to pay a premium for clean energy.
The Government will look into these suggestions, as Singapore strives towards the goal of harnessing at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar power by 2030. The suggestions are broadly aligned to the strategies laid out in Singapore’s Energy Story, which includes plans to enable “4 Switches”: natural gas, solar, regional power grids, and emerging low carbon alternatives like carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen.
Emerging Low Carbon Technologies
Hydrogen and CCUS featured prominently amongst proposed low carbon technologies. Suggestions on hydrogen included potential hydrogen applications such as hydrogen compression for storage and transportation, and hydrogen combustion in gas turbines for power and heat or cooling generation. Respondents however noted the prevailing high costs, safety risks in transportation, and the lack of suitable infrastructure. Respondents raised a range of CCUS applications to be explored, such as sequestration and use in synthetic fuels and enhanced oil recovery. Companies cautioned that commercially viable ways to utilise the captured carbon dioxide on a large scale are required. Some respondents noted that many CCUS pathways were still in the early phases of development or necessitated heavy investment and strong incentives to promote commercial uptake.
The Government has commissioned studies on hydrogen and CCUS, and feedback from the various stakeholder engagement exercises will be taken into account when government agencies review the findings from these studies. Companies are encouraged to work closely with the Government to further develop both pre-commercial and deployment-ready technologies and business models that will enable the large-scale adoption of hydrogen and CCUS.
Green finance, research and development and technological solutions were cited by respondents as being key enablers for green growth. Some felt that it was reasonable to trade off some economic growth for environmental protection. Respondents felt that the Government could take the leading role in the transition to a green economy by providing grants and technical experts to firms. A common concern raised was the need to reskill workers in emissions-intensive industries to work in clean energy industries.
The Government will study the suggestions to enable green growth and have taken early action to promote the integration of green priorities into financial practices, and are working on a comprehensive, long-term strategy to make green finance a defining feature of Singapore’s role as an international financial centre. MAS will be issuing environmental risk management guidelines to set out its supervisory expectations on governance, risk management and disclosures across the banking, insurance and asset management sectors.
Technological innovation will play a significant role in addressing Singapore’s climate change and energy challenges, while contributing to the economy. Singapore’s commitment to research, innovation, and enterprise (RIE) in the sustainability domain started as early as 2006, when clean energy was identified as a strategic area of research. The Government will study suggestions on other initiatives that would expand our green economy and provide future job opportunities, and continue to work with industry and institutes of higher learning to ensure that our workers and students have the necessary skills and qualifications to tap on the opportunities of a green economy.
Collective Climate Action
Many respondents highlighted the need for collective climate action. Businesses could set an example by using sustainable products in food and beverage services and adopting sustainable manufacturing practices. Other respondents called for policies to encourage a behavioural shift towards plant-based diets. The need to reduce the consumption of disposable plastics was emphasised, with respondents suggesting both penalty-based and incentive-based policies such as a plastic bag tax, “pay with plastic” events and a reward point system for using reusable bags. Suggestions to reduce waste included the installation of anaerobic digesters for food waste to produce usable products such as fertilisers, and local food branding to encourage the purchase of “ugly” produce.
Several respondents commented that a lack of understanding of how to adopt greener lifestyle practices hindered climate action. A variety of campaigns and engagements would help educate individuals about climate change and eco-friendly practices. School curricula and programmes should place more emphasis on climate change and related initiatives like environmental protection and reducing waste. To promote greater dialogue and engagement, some suggested regular meetings to consult the public on policy initiatives.
A whole-of-nation effort is needed to achieve our carbon reduction goals. More can be done with the public and with private sector companies, and the Government is committed to working with all stakeholders towards greater awareness and action. Through nation-wide campaigns and other outreach programmes, Singapore is taking a long-term, holistic approach to tackling excessive consumption by building a national consciousness to care for the environment, and will also continue to introduce policies to encourage sustainable production and consumption.