National Statement of Singapore by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the UNFCCC COP-25 High Level Segment, 10 December 2019

Mdm President,

1. I congratulate you on your election as President of this conference. We wish Chile a quick and peaceful resolution to the unrest. We thank Spain for stepping up to host COP-25. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude for Poland’s outstanding stewardship in successfully delivering the Katowice Rulebook. The onus is on us to build on this and achieve a successful outcome for COP-25 so as to maintain the momentum for global climate action. You can count on Singapore’s support.

2. We are meeting at a time when multilateralism is under strain. We are witnessing a resurgence of isolationist, protectionist, and even nationalistic sentiments across the world. We all have to work together to counter these forces and strengthen the support for multilateral cooperative frameworks. We must not take our eyes off the long-term, existential challenge of climate change. Our responses to climate change must be anchored in urgent and robust implementation of our goals and initiatives under the UNFCCC framework; and recognise that sustainable development and free trade can be enablers for climate action, particularly, if we harness the power of finance, technology, and innovation.

3. Impacts of climate change are being felt around the world and we can anticipate these to worsen over time if we do not act now. Like many Small Island States, Singapore is vulnerable, especially to the effects of global warming, and especially the rise of sea-levels. For us, climate change is existential. We strongly echo the call by so many, notably our youths, for more action and collaboration.I have four suggestions on how we can strengthen the multilateral system of climate action.

Honour and Implement Our Pledges

4. First, we need to honour and faithfully implement our Paris commitments.

5. Under the Paris Agreement, we need to update our 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and communicate long-term low emission development strategies by 2020. This is what we agreed in Paris and we need to deliver.

6. We are heartened by the outcomes of the Climate Action Summit (CAS), which included pledges by countries to communicate new and updated NDCs, as well as new pledges of support to developing countries. We should consider how the outcomes of the CAS can be folded into the UNFCCC process, while respecting the different mandate and nature of the UNFCCC process. A practical suggestion could be for Parties to incorporate their CAS announcements into their NDC updates and/or long-term low emissions strategies.

7. Singapore will play our part. We will update our NDC and communicate our long-term low emissions strategy soon. We will also work with others to support the efforts of developing countries. For example, we will co-organise with the NDC Partnership, with support from the UNFCCC Secretariat, a workshop on updating NDCs for ASEAN countries in January 2020, which will also include sharing of best practices and support available for the preparation of long-term low emissions strategies by the 2050 Pathways Platform.

Complete the Paris Agreement Work Programme

8. Second, we need to complete the Paris Agreement Work Programme. Article 6 is the last remaining piece to complete the rulebook. The effectiveness of the multilateral rules-based system of global climate action that we established in Paris and Katowice rests on us completing this outstanding work. It is imperative that we adopt a credible, clear, and coherent set of rules to govern the effective use of international carbon credits across different forums, including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), to deliver higher ambition while ensuring environmental integrity. At the same time, these rules must ensure inclusivity. All Parties, regardless of their NDC forms, should be able to participate in international cooperation under Article 6.

9. We need to move quickly to identify the key decision points needed to reach agreement on the various mechanisms and approaches under 6.2, 6.4, and 6.8 to begin its operationalisation, for Parties and non-Party stakeholders to have sufficient confidence in the architecture, and for private sector to plan and structure investments. For us, the key issue we need to resolve here in Madrid is how to avoid double counting. Paris Agreement requires a new paradigm around accounting for underlying emission reductions that are transferred internationally, and we should have clarity on how the concept of corresponding adjustments is operationalised.

Mobilise National Climate Actions

10. Third, we need effective action at the national level, across all sectors and stakeholders. Countries’ headline pledges must be backed by clear, effective domestic policies and plans. The focus must be on how we can generate and use energy sustainably. This includes energy’s consequent impact. Which is why Singapore has implemented an economy-wide carbon tax – the first in Southeast Asia to do so – as a key plank of our mitigation strategy. To ensure that this new money does not inadvertently cause even more carbon emissions, revenue will be recycled to support emission reduction projects and help businesses become more resource and energy efficient. As we have limited access to alternative sources of energy, we will leverage long-term planning, innovation, and international cooperation to address climate change. We have also put focus on resource management – to make sure that we apply processes to use as little energy and carbon footprint. For this, we have launched a Zero Waste Masterplan and enacted a Resource Sustainability Act to design waste and wastefulness out of our economy in an increasingly resource- and carbon-constrained world. Our efforts to promote a circular economy, where materials are retained and reused in the value chain for as long as possible, will help to reduce our carbon footprint and complement our efforts to address climate change.

11. We thank the Chilean Presidency for giving focus to four key sectors: energy, transport, agriculture, and finance. Singapore is taking active steps to drive action, innovation, and international cooperation in these sectors.

12. Through our early actions, 95 per cent of our electricity is currently generated from natural gas. Moving forward, we hope to accelerate our energy transformation by harnessing solar, regional power grids, and emerging low-carbon alternatives. Together with more efficient use of energy, this will allow us to secure more sustainable, affordable, and reliable energy supplies.

13. Singapore is already amongst the 20 best-performing countries in terms of carbon intensity, based on 2018 data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), but we will continue to improve our industry energy efficiency, by one to two per cent annually. We have rolled out initiatives under the Enhanced Industry Energy Efficiency Package to give stronger support to companies in their drive to become more energy efficient and reduce emissions.

14. The deployment of renewables will be ramped up, particularly solar. Notwithstanding our small size and dense urban landscape, solar installations have increased a hundred-fold from 30 to over 3000 in Singapore over the last decade. We will continue to push the envelope, through innovative approaches such as floating solar PVs to overcome our land constraint. We aim to increase our 2020 solar target by more than five times to at least 2GWp by 2030.

15. We hope to realise the possibility of regional power grids to leverage on the immense potential for renewables in the region, and provide greater resilience and stability for the entire system. We have also commissioned studies to evaluate the feasibility of other low-carbon alternatives, such as hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies, and will work with industry, the research community and other countries to explore pilots, domestically and internationally.

16. Singapore will move further on greening our transport. On land transport, by 2040, 9 out of every 10 peak period journeys will be made via “walk, cycle and ride” transport modes; “ride” referring to public rail and bus, and shared transport. We also aim to have 100 per cent cleaner energy public bus fleets (EV or hybrid) by 2040. We are developing the infrastructure for the extensive use of electric buses and taxis, as well as electric cars. Sustainable, green land transport infrastructure, ports and airports are also being designed and built, incorporating new energy efficient and carbon mitigation features and technologies, such as solar photovoltaics. Singapore will also continue to actively support the efforts led by the ICAO and IMO (International Maritime Organisation) in addressing the emissions of the international aviation and maritime transport sectors on a global basis.

17. On agriculture, Singapore currently imports over 90 per cent of our food. Like water, disruptions to our food supply is an existential threat for Singapore; but, we will seize this opportunity to transform our local food industry. To enhance our food security and resilience, we aim to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs by 2030. We will adopt new solutions to raise productivity, apply R&D, strengthen climate resilience, and overcome our resource constraints. We have partnered United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to launch a global sustainable agriculture challenge that seeks to ideate, design, and scale-up solutions that address sustainable agriculture challenges at a global scale.

18. As a global financial hub, we are making strides to leverage green growth opportunities. To date, over US$4.4 billion of green bonds have been issued here. The Monetary Authority of Singapore introduced the Green Bond Grant Scheme in 2017 to spur the use of capital markets instruments for green financing. This has since been expanded and renamed the Sustainable Bond Grant Scheme. Last month, we unveiled a new US$2 billion Green Investments Programme, which will support public market investment strategies that have a strong green focus. There have also been positive developments in sustainability reporting. With the implementation of SGX’s mandatory sustainability reporting requirements, the number of Singapore-listed issuers communicating their sustainability disclosures has greatly increased; by about 3.8 times. 495 listed issuers have published their sustainability reports as at 31 December 2018, complying with the reporting deadline SGX stipulated. About 80% of the 495 listed issuers are first-time reporters.

Strengthening Solidarity through Partnerships

19. Fourth, we need to strengthen our solidarity in the fight against climate change. Even as we mitigate rising emissions, we must also be prepared for the worst. We therefore support a strong outcome on the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism to better support our efforts to minimise, avert, and address loss and damage from the adverse effects of climate change, which is a key issue of concern for many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Singapore is doing our part through the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility to enhance pre-disaster planning and post-disaster relief and reconstruction funding. We are also supporting efforts to improve the region’s meteorological capabilities through the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre, which runs a five-year capability development programme for the region.

20. But we should each take steps to be more climate resilient. Singapore is incorporating nature-based solutions into our adaptation plans. To boost our natural defences against sea-level rise, we take both hard and soft engineering approaches to mitigate coastal erosion, such as restoring our mangrove areas. Beyond coastal protection, we have planted in tiny Singapore over 2 million trees, and built more than 350 parks and four nature reserves, including our UNESCO-listed Botanic Gardens right in the heart of the city. These efforts will not only support our biodiversity, but further drive climate mitigation and strengthen our resilience.

21. We also need to prepare our society for a low-carbon future. The Singapore Government will put in place the appropriate incentives and facilitate capacity development, to ease the transition and allow our economy and workforce to adapt to the new circumstances. Climate change is both a threat and an opportunity. The challenge is to find new opportunities for growth and jobs, particularly for displaced workers, so that workers can continue to have a stake in the transition to the greener and low-carbon future.

22. To succeed in our efforts to address climate change, we need to work hand-in-hand with all stakeholders to co-create and co-deliver solutions to solve our environmental challenges. Youths, businesses and civil society will be an important part of this effort. We are encouraged by the leadership shown by the private sector in championing environmental, social, and corporate governance principles. We are committed to work with our stakeholders to deliver a better and more sustainable future.

Mdm President

23. We are in an increasingly polarised and uncertain world; we all need to do our part to meet these challenges and strengthen the multilateral framework under the Paris Agreement. Singapore stands ready to support the Presidency to deliver a strong outcome in Madrid.

Thank you.

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