Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. It is a pleasure to see so many familiar faces as we reflect on our collective efforts on climate action this year.
THE YEAR OF CLIMATE ACTION
2. Since the start of the year, we have seen more scientific reports and evidence on the threats posed by climate change. The recent Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is another sobering reminder of the potentially devastating impacts of climate change. A recent scientific report issued by 13 US federal agencies warned that global warming would knock off as much as 10% of the US economy by the end of this century – almost $500bn annually from costs of deaths, damages and productivity losses.
3. Our decision to designate 2018 as the Year of Climate Action was first announced last November at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP-23 in Bonn, Germany. We realised that although the government had clear plans to mitigate and adapt to climate change, there was only latent awareness among Singaporeans that climate change had led to higher temperatures and extreme weather conditions. More importantly, this did not generally translate into action to reduce carbon emissions. We realised that it was important to raise national awareness and the urgency to act – and to act together – not just the government but with the people, public, and the private sector.
4. As I was representing Singapore at COP-23, I took the initiative when delivering Singapore’s National Statement, to announce that 2018 would be Singapore’s Year of Climate Action, to rally Singaporeans to act together for a sustainable Singapore. Thus the birth of the YOCA 2018!
PARTNERSHIP IN MITIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE
5. Since then I’m glad my Cabinet colleagues and senior ministers have often referred to YOCA2018 as a rallying point to bring Singaporeans together to take climate action. During the recent launch of Clean and Green Singapore at the beginning of November, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong referred to it and urged everyone to be a steward for our environment and to take climate action. He observed that “Just like our ‘Save Water’ campaign where every drop counts, every climate action counts.”
6. Why do I call the campaign a success? Let me count the reasons:
a. We are heartened to have received more than 300,000 pledges from individuals, organisations and educational institutions.
b. Over 800 climate action related events were initiated and organised by our 3P (People, Private, and Public) partners, many of whom are present here today. Of these, 300 were supported by our Climate Action Grant. This overwhelming support from the ground is encouraging. While it is not possible to share all of these events, we have captured some highlights in a video which will be screened later.
c. We even gave birth to climate action champions some of whom I will highlight. The Singapore Green Building Council helped raise awareness on the role of green buildings in addressing climate change, through its Live.Work.Play.Green campaign on public buses. Our educational institutions and grassroots organisations have stepped up efforts to encourage their students and residents to lead a sustainable lifestyle and reduce their carbon footprint through simple actions such as reducing energy consumption and recycling right.
d. We formed the Climate Action SG Alliance in April, which comprises 15 corporate, educational, and civil society leaders. This was a result of a dialogue with NGOs in January where the participants suggested forming a 3P alliance to drive climate action efforts. We have invited the Alliance to share with us the progress of their efforts and upcoming projects at today’s lunch.
e. The Public Sector has also taken the lead in adapting to and mitigating climate change. All Ministries have taken the climate action pledge and will reduce their plastic, water and electricity consumption.
THE GOVERNMENT WILL EXECUTE ITS CLIMATE ACTION PLAN
7. The government is committed to meet its Paris Agreement commitments and adapt to climate change impact. We have opened the Tuas Desalination Plant and the Stamford Diversion Canal in June and September respectively, to increase our resilience against extreme weather conditions such as droughts and flash floods.
8. To reduce our carbon emissions, we have passed the Carbon Pricing Bill, to price carbon emissions right. This provides a framework for implementing the carbon tax on large emitters of greenhouse gases. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has also announced an enhanced set of Industry Energy Efficiency grant schemes to encourage industrial facilities, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to be more energy efficient. Indeed, when we collect our carbon tax from 2020 onwards, we expect a revenue of close to $1 billion in the first five years. The government is prepared to spend more than this in the initial five years to support worthwhile projects which deliver the necessary abatement in emissions. We are setting the carbon tax rate at $5/tCO2e; it will be applied uniformly to facilities that emit more than 25,000 tCO2e of emissions annually; the tax rate will be reviewed by 2023 – we intend to increase the tax to between $10/tCO2e and $15/tCO2e by 2030.
9. On the regional and international front, we convened the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action, or SAMCA, and the Expanded-SAMCA in July. At these meetings, ASEAN member states and the Plus Three countries – China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea – reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and committed to step up regional action to address climate change. Singapore launched the Climate Action Package to support ASEAN member states’ climate plans and actions. In July, we also presented our first Voluntary National Review at the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, where we shared Singapore’s sustainable development journey and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
BUILDING A RESILIENT FUTURE BEYOND YEAR OF CLIMATE ACTION
10. Taking climate action cannot be just a year-long affair. This is why the theme for today’s event is Building a Resilient Future: Beyond Year of Climate Action. Our collective efforts must continue beyond 2018, especially since the window to keep the rise in world temperature within 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels is closing rapidly. To sustain the momentum, we will organise a Climate Action Week next year. I hope all of you will come on board, and make the Climate Action Week a collaborative effort by the 3P sectors.
11. To successfully mitigate climate change, we have to target the reduction of carbon emissions from multiple sources. A significant source is waste generation. We will accelerate our efforts towards zero waste in 2019, and strive to build a circular economy that will extract maximum value from precious resources and convert trash to treasure. We will transform our industries to bring about new businesses and job opportunities. My vision is for Singapore to be an urban mine, where resources have many life cycles. And from this, to lead our region to partner us in our quest to be good stewards to our planet. I invite you to share your ideas with us to realise our vision of a Zero Waste Nation.
12. Let me conclude. The Government will continue to take the lead by developing infrastructure, frameworks and industry transformation maps, but no government can do it alone. Collaboration among the public agencies, industries, civil society, and individuals remains a force multiplier in our journey to build a resilient and sustainable Singapore.
13. Thank you for being with us on this historic journey, and I look forward to your continuous support.