S'pore urged to aim to be R&D hub for alternative energy

It could also take lead in carbon accounting, says Young PAP paper on climate change

Singapore must achieve growth both in sustainable practices and economic prosperity to secure a sustainable future. PHOTO: ST FILE

To ensure Singapore thrives in a future affected by climate change, it should establish itself as a research and development (R&D) hub for alternative energy sources.

This could be done through building up the talent pool and investing in research infrastructure such as supercomputers.

These were among the new key recommendations in a revised position paper on climate change by Young PAP, the youth wing of the People's Action Party (PAP), released yesterday.

Since the paper was first made public in March, Young PAP has conducted several rounds of consultations with climate activists, industry experts and the public.

The next step is for its content to be discussed in Parliament, said Young PAP chairman Janil Puthucheary, with MPs Louis Ng, Hany Soh and Poh Li San involved in drafting a private member's motion that includes some of the issues. This motion could be raised for debate in February next year.

Dr Janil said: "Even then, that's not the end of it. It's not one speech, one motion, one cut - it's an ongoing process of making these issues part of the agenda of today."

While sustainability has been on the agenda for some time, there are many related topics and it is about which to prioritise, which interventions to put in place, and how to convince people to join the effort, said Dr Janil, who is Senior Minister of State for Health, and Communications and Information.

He was speaking to reporters after Young PAP held a public webinar yesterday to gather feedback on the paper. Dr Janil attended the webinar, as well as Ms Soh, Mr Ng, Young PAP organising secretary Cynthia Mark and member Kenneth Yeo.

Other than alternative energy research, the 19-page paper also said Singapore is well positioned to lead the carbon documentation and reporting market, and to provide such services to other countries, with there being no single global standard for carbon accounting.

Chairman of Young PAP Janil Puthucheary, MPs Louis Ng and Hany Soh and Young PAP organising secretary Cynthia Mark took part in a webinar on Nov 22, 2020. PHOTO: PAP

The paper noted that climate change has affected lifestyles and livelihoods globally, and Singapore is not immune to its effects, such as rising temperatures, rainfall shortage and loss of biodiversity.

It said Singapore must achieve growth, both in sustainable practices and economic prosperity, to secure a sustainable future.

Laying out the case for Singapore to be an R&D hub for alternative energy, the paper said that while renewable energy alternatives are available, the energy generation capacity of such energy alone cannot meet Singapore's demand, and scalable solutions for carbon-free or efficient sources of energy are needed.

The Government must continue to increase the number of experts researching the science behind scalable alternative energy solutions, said the paper.

In terms of infrastructure, alternative energy researchers can make use of supercomputers to identify scalable solutions, with deeper collaboration between scientists and the National Supercomputing Centre.

On the value of consulting the public, Mr Ng said: "I think the best ideas are out there, it's up to us to go out there to create a platform to capture some of these ideas and give them a voice in Parliament."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2020, with the headline S'pore urged to aim to be R&D hub for alternative energy. Subscribe