Only a third of firms strongly aligned with Green Plan: Study

Only a third of businesses here say they are "strongly aligned" with the Singapore Green Plan 2030, while less than half are currently operating sustainably, a study shows.

Hurdles to greening their operations include funding - especially in a pandemic-induced financial crunch - and changing the culture of the company, business leaders said.

These were among the findings of the Building A Greener Singapore study by Schneider Electric in August, which surveyed over 500 businesses and consumers.

Companies surveyed were from sectors that included oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, transport, hospitality, retail, food and beverage, and consumer goods.

While 68 per cent of business leaders said they had an average or better understanding of sustainability terms and initiatives such as carbon neutrality, the Singapore Green Plan, and the Paris Agreement on climate change, only 43 per cent said their company was operating sustainably. Just 27 per cent were fully using technology in order to meet those goals.

Firms said they were most likely to use technology to improve their energy and resource efficiency measures, to offset their carbon footprint, and to shift their operations towards renewable energy sources.

The report found that some of the key motivators for businesses to move towards decarbonisation were government regulations, climate-related risk, and financial market pressure.

Recommendations for businesses include bringing sustainability to the core of their business practice, a clear climate action plan and targets, increasing staff's understanding of the sustainability landscape, and tapping government grants.

Consumers surveyed expected businesses to do more in this respect. Over two-thirds said that businesses should put environmental concerns ahead of profits, but only a quarter of respondents believed that corporations were making the shift to become more environmentally sustainable.

On a personal level, 96 per cent of the consumers surveyed said that they had been affected directly or indirectly by climate change, and 33 per cent said they were "extremely concerned".

Cost and convenience were topmost concerns when it came to greener living.

Nine out of 10 Singaporeans support the country moving away from fossil fuels in its energy generation, but just over half were willing to pay more for cleaner electricity.

While 53 per cent of consumers believed that every building in Singapore should be a green building, they were less enthusiastic about the increased cost or inconvenience incurred by living in one, with only 26 per cent stating their preference to do so.

About 65 per cent of Singaporeans said they would be willing to reduce their emissions from transportation, only if it was convenient for them to do so. Just over 50 per cent said they owned an electric vehicle or planned to own one in the future, with 37 per cent saying they would not be willing to do so.

The study also found that 72 per cent of Singaporeans were aware of the recent Sixth Assessment Report by the United Nations and that 59 per cent were concerned about its findings.

The report showed that human activity was the lead cause for climate change, which was worsening more quickly than initially predicted, attributing this to more regular and destructive natural disasters such as heat waves, wildfires and hurricanes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2021, with the headline 'Only a third of firms strongly aligned with Green Plan: Study'. Subscribe