Singapore's vulnerability to rising sea levels has been on the national agenda, but in Parliament yesterday, the nation's role in contributing to planet-warming emissions was also highlighted.
Singapore generated 52.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2017, said Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry. This works out to about 0.11 per cent of global emissions.
Of this, industries contribute about 60 per cent, Dr Koh said in response to a question by Nominated MP Anthea Ong.
Ms Ong had wanted to know how much industries - in particular, the refining and petrochemicals sector - were contributing to climate change, and what the Government was doing to urge them to take responsibility for their contributions to the climate crisis.
About three-quarters of industries' emissions are from the refining and petrochemicals sector, Dr Koh said.
A report that Singapore submitted in December last year to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change noted that while Singapore does not produce any oil or gas, the Republic is a major oil refining and petrochemical centre that serves the global market.
Dr Koh said that in 2017, 190 Mtoe (millions tonnes of oil equivalent) of fossil fuels were imported into Singapore. About 55 Mtoe were refined into higher-value chemicals and fuels and mostly exported for use in other countries. The rest is largely for power generation and transportation, Dr Koh said.
About 95 per cent of Singapore's electricity is generated using natural gas. While it is considered cleaner than coal and oil, natural gas is a fossil fuel nonetheless.
Dr Koh said the Government is encouraging companies to adopt energy-efficient technologies.
The Government had this year implemented an enhanced set of schemes for industries to be more energy efficient, he said.
From January, funding support for the adoption of energy-efficient technologies under the Economic Development Board's Resource Efficiency Grant for Energy and the National Environment Agency's (NEA) Energy Efficiency Fund has been increased from the previous cap of 30 per cent to 50 per cent of the qualifying costs.
Dr Koh also said that from 2021, companies regulated under the Energy Conservation Act must establish energy management systems and regularly assess energy efficiency opportunities. NEA is also planning to launch a new grant to help companies digitalise their energy management systems, he said.
Under the Paris Agreement, Singapore pledged to become greener economically and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to achieve each dollar of gross domestic product by 36 per cent from 2005 levels, come 2030. It also pledged to stop any further increases to its greenhouse gas emissions by the same timeline.
Ms Ong had asked how Singapore's emissions would grow with an expansion of refinery facilities here.
Dr Koh said he was unable to disclose the expansion plans of individual refineries as this was "commercially sensitive" information. But he said that when companies expand or new ones invest in Singapore, the Government works with them to ensure a high standard of efficiency. He also said the Government was urging other sectors, not just the refining and petrochemicals sector, to be energy efficient.
He added: "Beyond industries, all of us have a responsibility to mitigate climate change. Saving electricity, using public transport and reducing waste are good ways to cut carbon emissions. As a country, we will do our part to help address global climate challenges."