Budget 2021: Some govt agencies to make early switch to chillers using refrigerants with low global warming potential

The new chiller at Temasek Polytechnic on Feb 16, 2021. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - The transition to a more sustainable Singapore requires all hands on deck, with actions by the government, businesses and people a key enabler, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Feb 16).

And there will be initiatives on all three fronts to help the country achieve the targets set out under the Singapore Green Plan 2030, he said.

The Green Plan announced last Wednesday is a blueprint that collates all of Singapore's sustainability efforts in line with the nation's goal of reaching net zero emissions as soon as possible.

Mr Heng said the Government will do its part by committing to more ambitious goals under the GreenGov.SG initiative for the public sector.

"This gives renewed focus to the public sector's contribution towards national sustainability goals, and reminds all public officers that sustainability must be at the core of our work," he said.

More details on GreenGov.SG will be given during the debate over the budget of the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment.

Mr Heng said some government agencies - including the Ministry of National Development, Home Team Academy, and Temasek Polytechnic - will switch to low global warming potential refrigerant chillers, ahead of the mandatory adoption at the end of 2022, Mr Heng said.

"This will reduce 24 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual emissions of about 7,400 cars."

The use of such refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment has contributed to more emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Commonly used as refrigerants, HFCs are also greenhouse gases that are considered to be between 116 and 12,400 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat on the planet.

In 2020, the National Environment Agency said it will be progressively phasing out cooling equipment that use refrigerants with high global warming potential and will ban the supply of certain air-conditioners, chillers and refrigerators in Singapore from the fourth quarter of 2022 as there are climate-friendly alternatives.

Support will also be given to businesses in Singapore to help them seize new opportunities in the green economy, said Mr Heng , who is also Finance Minister.

"We will be launching the Enterprise Sustainability Programme. This will help enterprises, especially small and medium enterprises, use resources more efficiently and develop new green products and solutions," he said, adding that the Ministry of Trade and Industry will announce more details later.

The Ministry of National Development, Home Team Academy, and Temasek Polytechnic are among those that will switch to low global warming potential refrigerant chillers. PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

Mr Heng also urged all Singaporeans to be part of the sustainability effort, saying he was glad that young people here have been especially passionate about this cause.

"In the spirit of SG Together, the Government will partner Singaporeans and support ground-up projects which aim to build a more sustainable future," he said.

More than 200 proposals from individuals, grassroots organisations and businesses have been received from the first SG Eco Fund grant call. The $50 million fund was first announced last March, and the first grant call closed on Jan 31.

In his speech, Mr Heng said the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted the intricate interdependencies of our ecosystem, and the importance of sustainability and biodiversity.

"Our human activities have accelerated changes in our environment. We must work together to safeguard this fragile ecosystem for our future generations, and take climate change seriously," he said.

"Building a green Singapore will require a whole-of-society effort, and I hope that we can harness the ideas and energies of the public, private and people sectors. Together, we can build a sustainable home for all."

Read next: Highlights of Budget 2021 - From household vouchers to GST on imported low-value goods bought online

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