Fighting climate change needs to be a consolidated effort, and the Government cannot tackle the pressing issue alone, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said yesterday.
"Everyone, including civil society organisations, businesses and individuals must take urgent climate action."
Climate change poses existential threats for the Republic, she added, speaking on the first day of a four-day conference on ethical investing. Speakers included representatives from Standard Chartered Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Macquarie Group Foundation.
Dr Khor pointed out that Singapore is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world, and climate change aggravates challenges such as public health, livelihoods and food supply. "Businesses are also realising and counting the cost of climate risks," she added.
She also cited a report that stated how the world's biggest companies are expecting climate change to cost them US$1 trillion (S$1.35 trillion) within the next five years.
She said Singapore is taking steps under its Climate Action Plan, such as investing in solar energy, developing more sustainable buildings and expanding the public transport network in order to reduce the need for cars.
Singapore has also implemented a carbon tax this year, with tax revenues to be "earmarked for worthwhile projects that improve energy and carbon efficiency", she added.
Investments can be another way to encourage green businesses.
Dr Khor, who is also Senior Minister of State for Health, said: "As a thriving global financial hub, Singapore is well poised to direct capital flows towards sustainable activities and, as importantly, away from those that harm our environment."
The financial sector has made good progress in this area, she said.
Banks have implemented policies that evaluate borrowers' environmental, social and governance risks based on guidelines issued by the Association of Banks in Singapore, she said. Local banks have also said earlier this year that they will not be financing new coal-fired power plants, she added.
Conference organiser Asian Venture Philanthropy Network announced the launch of a platform that will focus on building a pipeline of investment opportunities.
Venture capital firm Insignia's founding managing partner, Mr Tan Yinglan, said such platforms are crucial for collaboration between start-ups and larger institutions "to get the best ideas off the ground and create real impact".
"Start-ups are at the forefront of climate change action. They have the flexibility to implement innovative solutions and the persistence to make these solutions happen."
Associate Professor Lawrence Loh of the National University of Singapore said the platform is timely and useful for start-ups to make their mark in the social causes space. "A purpose-focused, region-focused platform will really help in matchmaking (them) with potential investors," added Prof Loh, who is also director of the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations.