Singapore is taking its climate action a step further with new initiatives announced on 8 March, including plans to make every Housing and Development Board (HDB) town ‘EV-ready’ (electric vehicle) ahead of schedule, and help more businesses improve energy efficiency.
The government said last month that it would bring forward the country’s target to reach net zero “by or around mid-century”, a move Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean described on Tuesday as “necessary, practical and implementable”, given international developments in technology and carbon markets.
Last week, a major UN report released dire warnings about climate change inaction, with findings showing that irreversible climate impacts are happening faster and with greater intensity than ever before.
In particular, rising temperatures could expose Asia to threats like food scarcity and human-health risks, with an increasing likelihood of heatwaves and floods as well as water- and vector-borne diseases.
“We are already seeing some of these effects – stronger and longer heatwaves, unprecedented droughts and floods, sea-level rise and storm surges affecting communities all over the world,” noted Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change.
Speaking in Parliament during the ongoing Committee of Supply debate, he said the government will review its 2030 nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – a national roadmap that charts how the country plans to reach net zero – along with its long-term low-emissions development strategy (LEDS).
The government had said previously that it would decide on a specific net zero year and make a formal revision to Singapore’s LEDS later this year, after it consults with industry and citizen stakeholder groups.
The five ministries spearheading the national Green Plan also provided updates on existing efforts and announced new initiatives to advance the country’s push towards sustainability. They are the ministries of sustainability and the environment (MSE), trade and industry (MTI), transport (MOT), national development (MND), and education (MOE).
While “significant steps” have been taken to build an efficient and sustainable transport system, Transport Minister S Iswaran said more must be done to work towards net zero emission.
To this end, a new target has been set – to reduce Singapore’s land transport emissions by 80 per cent from its 2016 peak of 7.7 million tonnes “by or around mid-century”.
This will be a reduction in absolute emissions, Iswaran said.
Currently, the land transport system accounts for 15 percent of Singapore’s emissions today, making it the third-largest source of emissions.
“This is an ambitious goal that will require policy moves, new technologies, and behavioural shifts across our land transport system. Along with the decarbonisation of the power grid, electrification of vehicles is a key initiative that will have a material impact,” he said.
Singapore will also accelerate its target of making every HDB town EV-ready by 2025, earlier than its previous target of the 2030s.
This comes after a major survey of switch rooms and substations across the island conducted by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to assess the additional electrical capacity needed to support EV charging.
Iswaran said the evaluation gave the ministry “confidence” to accelerate the implementation of its plans.
To support the implementation of EV-ready towns, Iswaran said EV charging points will be installed at nearly 2,000 HDB car parks over the next three to four years.
Meanwhile, the government will also continue to work closely with various stakeholders to electrify more vehicle segments, said Iswaran.
This includes electrifying half of Singapore’s public buses as well as taxi fleet by 2030, and extending the statutory lifespan of electric taxis from eight to 10 years.
Improving energy efficiency
Businesses will also get extra help to improve their energy efficiency, as Singapore transitions to a lower-carbon economy.
On 8 March, Sustainability and the Environment Minister Grace Fu announced enhancements to an existing grant to co-fund energy-efficiency projects.
Under the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) Energy Efficiency Fund, businesses looking to invest in energy-efficient technologies will be able to receive a maximum grant support of 70 percent of qualifying costs from 1 April. Currently, the cap for qualifying costs per project is set at 50 percent.
In a joint release, MSE and NEA said the grants awarded to projects will vary, depending on the carbon abatement achieved. This means that projects that can reduce more carbon emissions will be able to enjoy higher grant support.
Speaking in Parliament, Fu said the increased support cap will help companies to adopt energy efficiency measures, which will go towards reducing their energy costs and carbon emissions.
She added that the grant application and disbursement process will also be simplified to save businesses time and costs.
As of January, 27 projects have received co-funding support from the energy efficiency fund, achieving an estimated annual carbon abatement of around 1,600 tonnes – the equivalent of taking about 500 cars off the road.
The projects include retrofitting LED lighting, high-efficiency air-conditioning systems as well as variable speed air compressors and boiler systems.