Climate Change 101

Taking early action and leading the way in mitigation

Our commitment towards a green environment started in the 1960s, even before the spectre of climate change reared its head.

Our commitment towards a green environment started in the 1960s, even before the spectre of climate change reared its head. Indeed, this commitment is driven by the immutable fact that we are resource-limited. We have little land, energy or water, and we only have this little place to make a living and to call home. We need to make the most of what we have, and minimise what we need to rely on others for.

– Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Teo Chee Hean

Singapore’s National Circumstances

Singapore is an island city-state of only 719km in size.

Our small size, urban density, low wind speeds, relatively flat land, and lack of geothermal resources present serious difficulties in pursuing alternative energy options such as nuclear, hydro-electric, wind, or geothermal power.

Our limited land resources also make it challenging to deploy solar power on a large scale.

In Singapore, the most significant greenhouse gas emitted is carbon dioxide, primarily produced by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and gas to meet our energy needs in the industry, buildings, household, and transport sectors.

Given our limited potential for alternative energy sources, improving energy efficiency is our key strategy for reducing emissions in all sectors of the economy.

Further, our energy demand is expected to grow in the future due to an expanding economy and a growing population. Much of this growing energy demand can be avoided if we use energy more efficiently, instead of increasing energy production.

Transforming our economy towards a low carbon future

By reducing our CO2 emissions and making use of innovative low-carbon solutions, Singapore can contribute to international efforts to address climate change.

We made early policy choices that reduced our GHG emissions, for example by switching from fuel oil to natural gas – the cleanest form of fossil fuel – for power generation.

Today, about 95 per cent of our electricity is generated from natural gas. We also price energy at market cost, without any subsidy, so that households and businesses will use energy judiciously.

Climate Action through Mitigation

Here are the other actions that Singapore has taken to contribute to efforts to mitigate our GHG emissions:

Carbon Tax

Singapore is the first in Southeast Asia to introduce an economy-wide carbon tax at S$5/tonne CO2e (approximately US$3.70), with no exemptions. This rate will be reviewed by 2023, with the intention to increase it to between S$10 and S$15/tonne CO2e by 2030.

Pricing will encourage companies to evaluate opportunities to switch to more energy efficient technologies and more sustainable processes.

The carbon tax will apply to larger direct emitters – companies emitting 25 kilo-tonnes or more of GHG emissions a year.  Around 40 companies which account for about 80% of Singapore’s GHG emissions will be affected.

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Carbon Pricing
Photo Credit: National Climate Change Secretariat

 

Early Fuel Switch

Singapore has taken early steps since the early 2000s to use a cleaner fuel mix. Currently, 95% of our electricity is generated from natural gas.

Among all fossil fuels, natural gas produces the least amount of carbon emissions per unit of electricity. By switching to clean fuel, we have cut the amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere.

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PLPplant
Source: Wikipedia (shared under CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Improving our industry energy efficiency

The industry sector accounts for more than half of Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions. The implementation of energy efficiency projects and good energy management practices not only saves energy, it can also reduce costs for companies.

The Energy Conservation Act has put in place enhanced requirements for large industrial energy users to measure and evaluate their energy performance.

We are targeting for the industry to achieve an energy efficiency improvement rate of 1 to 2% per annum – a rate achieved by leading countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands over the past 10 years.

To assist companies transit to a low-carbon economy, we will use revenue from our carbon tax to provide grants and incentives to help businesses reduce their emissions and become more energy and carbon efficient.

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Arial View of Redhill Housing Estate Singapore

 

Intensifying the harnessing of solar power 

In Singapore, solar energy is the most promising renewable energy option.

We are exploring innovative modes of tapping on solar power such as floating solar farms. PUB and EDB are supporting innovative floating solar PV projects at Tengeh Reservoir and offshore off Woodlands respectively. These projects will be one of the world’s largest floating inland and offshore solar PV systems when completed.

We aim to reach 350 megawatt-peak (MWp) by 2020 and 1 gigawatt-peak (GWp) beyond 2020, which is approximately 5% of our peak electricity demand today.

Floating Solar08
Photo Credit: PUB, Singapore’s national water agency

Greening our transport

Promoting sustainable transport and managing vehicular emissions will also help reduce C02.  We promote cleaner vehicles through emissions standards and encourage the early replacement of older and more pollutive vehicles, such as through the Early Turnover Scheme. More than 40,000 commercial diesel vehicles have switched to cleaner vehicles under this scheme.

We are working towards 9 in 10 of all peak period journeys to be made on “walk, cycle and ride” transport modes, where “ride” refers to public and shared transport, by 2040. We are also developing the infrastructure for more electric cars, buses and taxis.

We are committed to having 100% cleaner energy public bus fleets (e.g. electric or hybrid) by 2040. Our taxi companies have also committed to 100% cleaner energy vehicles by 2040.

Since Feb 2018, Singapore has also frozen the growth of our car population as we steer Singapore towards becoming a car-lite society.

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Mass Rapid Transit - Singapore MRT Train

Greening our buildings

We are on track to having at least 80% of our buildings (by floor area) achieve Green buildings standards by 2030. We will develop new standards to promote super-low energy, zero-energy, and positive energy buildings to push the boundaries for energy efficiency for buildings in Singapore.

We are striving to harness resource synergies and reduce the carbon footprint in our public infrastructure. We are building a used water and waste treatment plant called Tuas Nexus by 2025, which can integrate water reclamation and waste-to-energy incineration in a single facility, and reduce the amount of energy required in the used water treatment process. This can help us cut down carbon emissions by more than 200,000 tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking more than 42,500 cars off the road.

Modern financial building with blue sky and cloud. Business district city background. Construction industry background.

Reducing waste

We are working with partners in the public, private and people sectors to move Singapore towards more sustainable production and consumption. This will include the adoption of a circular economy approach to reuse our resources for as long as possible. This will reduce our environmental footprint and strength our resource resilience.

partial view of people showing various types of garbage around recycle sign isolated on grey

 

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