SINGAPORE - Sentosa island is known for its golf courses, beaches and luxury hotels. But visitors will soon be able to appreciate another aspect of the island of fun - its luxuriant nature and green initiatives - through biodiversity tours or a ride on an electric bus.
Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC), which manages the island south of the mainland, is rolling out a slew of sustainability measures in phases, with the goal of eventually bringing the island's emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases down to net-zero by 2030.
These measures were outlined at a virtual press briefing on Friday morning (Sept 17).
SDC said it will start electric bus trials with transportation firm ComfortDelGro Bus next month. All of its on-island public transport is expected to be electrified by 2025. All SDC-owned carparks will also allow for electric vehicle charging by 2030.
Visitors can visit the other rustic islands in Singapore's Southern Islands chain from Sentosa, when SDC starts offering ferry services via a new jetty at Sentosa Cove Village by December.
Details such as ticket costs are still being worked out and will be announced later, SDC said. Currently, people can visit isles such as Kusu or St John's Island only by ferry from Marina South Pier.
The first of sustainability-themed tours to increase visitors' appreciation of nature, biodiversity, and heritage on Sentosa will also begin in December, SDC said.
Sentosa businesses will by next year start offering green options for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions, as well as wedding packages. They will include electric guest transport, elimination of disposables and locally sourced food produce.
These were among the plans laid out by SDC on Friday at the launch of the Sentosa sustainability road map, meant to flesh out how the island intends to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.
This goal for Sentosa had been laid out earlier this year during the launch of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, the nation's blueprint to reduce its carbon footprint.
All businesses and entities on Sentosa island produce about 162,000 tonnes of emissions every year. This is about 0.3 per cent of Singapore's total emissions profile in 2017, which was 52.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases that year.
Ms Thien Kwee Eng, SDC's chief executive, said all sustainability efforts, big or small, are important. She added: "If we are able to get this right, leveraging collective action across the Sentosa community and adopting innovative solutions - I think that is really how we want to get moving."
Ms Thien added that Sentosa is a microcosm of Singapore, and that the nation's contribution to global emissions is also small at 0.11 per cent. "But we don't shirk responsibility - I think everyone has to take charge of the area within their sphere of influence, and their ability to influence," she said.
The main driver of climate change today is the burning of fossil fuels for energy, as this releases planet-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Part of Sentosa's plan to reach carbon-neutrality by 2030 is to harness more renewable energy sources, including solar and tidal energy, tapping unused sea and land space on the island. There are also plans for waste-to-energy systems that use horticulture waste to generate gas for electricity.
Asked if the installation of solar panels on sea space in the Singapore Strait - home to rare marine creatures such as turtles and dolphins that must surface to breathe - could impact wildlife, Ms Thien said this will be done sensitively and in consultation with the marine conservation community.
She added: "Sustainability is at the core of what we do, so it cannot be done at the expense of other things. We will take careful steps in evaluating whether a location is suitable."
Sentosa intends to reach its net-zero emissions goal by 2030 mainly through decarbonisation efforts, including electrifying its public transport vehicles and making buildings more energy-efficient, but will not rule out buying carbon credits to offset unabatable emissions, Ms Thien said.
Asked if these initiatives will result in higher prices for visitors, Mr Lee Cheh Hsien, SDC's divisional director for planning, said some green technology, such as solar panels, are already commercially viable. He noted that there might be a cost-barrier to other technologies, but this could be overcome by leveraging economies of scale.
Mr Gavin Weightman, general manager of the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa hotel, agreed, saying Sentosa's new business alliance aimed at driving carbon neutrality across the island could help to enhance the buying power of businesses on the island.
The new Sentosa Carbon Neutral Network, also announced at Friday's event, comprises 17 founding members including SDC, Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa and Resorts World Sentosa, collectively accounting for more than 90 per cent of the island's estimated carbon emissions.
The aim of the network is to drive Sentosa-wide sustainability solutions through the sharing of resources and expertise, while also leveraging economies of scale and a common network to introduce large-scale solutions.
Mr Weightman added: " If we go to market as a group... we're able to assist those smaller island partners, so that they can also benefit from it."