S'pore's green push focuses on 4 fronts

Singapore's push for sustainable development fires on four fronts covering the economy, living environment, its people and international collaboration, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Mr Teo noted yesterday, which was World Environment Day, that Singapore's lack of natural resources means the country has had to be resourceful, finding ways to create economic value, producing goods and services that others need while making careful use of its resources.

"This has required integrated and long-term planning to optimise resources such as budget, land, manpower, energy and, more recently, carbon emissions, to ensure sustainable growth," added Mr Teo, who is also coordinating Minister for National Security.

Plans to introduce a carbon tax from 2019 will nudge companies to reduce emissions.

Mr Teo told the Ecosperity conference that Singapore is among the 20 most carbon-efficient countries in the world, citing International Energy Agency data showing that the country produces low levels of carbon emissions for every dollar of GDP generated.

He added that Singapore will intensify its efforts to fulfil its commitment under the Paris climate change agreement which calls for reducing emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Mr Teo noted that tackling climate change will require all countries to work together to be "fully effective", a point picked up later at the dialogue session.

Ambassador-at-large Chan Heng Chee, who was moderating the session, asked about the impact of United States President Donald Trump's decision to pull America out of the Paris Accord.

Mr Teo replied: "For the Paris agreement to kick in requires the 55:55 rule: At least 55 countries constituting 55 per cent of the global emissions. So whether the US is in or out, the Paris agreement is operative."

The US accounts for 18 per cent of global carbon emissions, while 146 countries that are signatories to the agreement account for 65 per cent, he said.

As part of the push to reduce Singapore's environmental footprint, the Government is also looking at ways to tap renewable energy sources, particularly solar and nuclear power. Mr Teo noted: "I am waiting for solar photovoltaic film (which) we can put on the windows so we can get a bit more shade in the offices and rooms and generate electricity at the same time. I think it is not far-fetched."

Photovoltaic systems help to generate electricity by using solar cells to convert energy from the sun.

As for nuclear power, he said the present generation of power plants is not suitable for Singapore. "We may have to wait out two generations of nuclear power plants," he added.

Another aspect of sustainable development is in investment in people, providing quality healthcare, education and skills upgrading.

The Ecosperity conference was organised by investment firm Temasek Holdings and brought together policymakers, business people and thought leaders to discuss sustainable growth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore's green push focuses on 4 fronts'. Print Edition | Subscribe