Firms can cut costs, risks by being sustainable: Ho Ching

Temasek CEO says firm will report energy, water usage, encourages others to follow suit

Temasek chief executive Ho Ching (left) speaking at the 11th Global Compact Network Singapore summit yesterday, with the network's president Goh Swee Chen.
Temasek chief executive Ho Ching (left) speaking at the 11th Global Compact Network Singapore summit yesterday, with the network's president Goh Swee Chen.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Businesses can save costs and reduce risks when they are sustainable, said Temasek chief exe-cutive and executive director Ho Ching yesterday.

She added that the Singapore investment company will start reporting its energy and water consumption this financial year, and encouraged other businesses to do the same.

Ms Ho was speaking at the 11th Global Compact Network Sin-gapore summit held at the Sun-tec City Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The network is the local cha-pter of the United Nations Global Compact and aims to support businesses in aligning their st-rategies and operations with sustainability.

The summit brought together more than 400 business leaders, government officials, investors and organisations to discuss global trends in sustainability and business.

Ms Ho said in her address: "Businesses can save money... when they reduce waste. Businesses can reduce risks when they eliminate pollution that harms people and planet.

"For those of us who have not started, I propose that we take a simple first step, to report our electricity and transport usage by next financial year... whether you are big or small. It's a proxy for our indirect emissions. Producers could also track and report on their direct emissions from burning fossil fuels or green forests."

Ms Ho added that once companies track and measure, they can start to look at ways of reducing emissions and waste.

Temasek itself consumes water, paper, electricity and air miles, and it will start reporting these for this financial year.

Ms Ho noted that the company has also been investing in sustainable solutions such as plant-based proteins and better fertilisers. It has also decided to go carbon-neutral by next year and halve the greenhouse gas emissions of its portfolio by 2030.

"We encourage others to join us to report electricity and water consumption, as well as any direct emissions," she said.

This first step of reporting can help companies improve efficiencies, reduce cost, mitigate risks or find new opportunities.

Ms Ho said businesses can also set the tone for their people, from boosting product and resource efficiency to workforce training.

"Businesses have the resources and organisational capacity to make a real impact in a systematic and tangible way... Doing right and doing good, to do well, will help them earn trust and strengthen their social licence to operate," she said.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zul-kifli told the summit that businesses can help to mitigate climate change by adopting energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies.

"(They) can support our transition to a circular economy by engaging in sustainable production and consumption, and reusing and recycling our resources for as long as possible," he added.

Businesses can also partner non-governmental organisations to achieve their sustainable goals.

He said: "To continue thriving in a carbon-and resource-constrained economy, we all have to build up climate, resource and economic resiliencies. Then we can be ready to tap new oppor-tunities in a circular and green economy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2019, with the headline 'Firms can cut costs, risks by being sustainable: Ho Ching'. Print Edition | Subscribe