Statement Delivered By Masagos Zulkifli, Minister For The Environment And Water Resources Of The Republic Of Singapore, At The Abu Dhabi Global Preparatory Meeting For The United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit

UN Secretary-General António Guterres,

Minister Thani Al Zeyoudi,

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.


Good morning.

1. I would like to thank the UN Secretary-General and the Government of the UAE for organising this summit meeting.

2. I would like to thank in particular the UN Secretary-General for his leadership and for convening the Climate Action Summit which will be held in New York on 23 September 2019.

3. The Climate Action Summit is appropriately framed as an action summit. It is meant to galvanise ambitious actions from all stakeholders to ensure that we are on track to meet the Paris goals.

4. We are a small and highly urbanised city state, which limits our access to alternative clean energy options.

5. But we will not let our constraints be an excuse for inaction.   

6. Singapore will play its part to support the global effort to address climate change and scale up our climate actions.

7. We participate as a member of the coalition on Infrastructure, Cities and Local Action, and are actively working with Kenya and Turkey as well as other coalition partners, to put forward a concrete and ambitious set of plans and actions on how we can transform our cities and infrastructure to make them more carbon efficient in support of the Paris goals.

8. We are also looking at how we can support the initiatives put forward by the other 8 coalitions.

9. We are committed to making a positive contribution in this process and will support the UN Secretary-General in his efforts to make the Climate Action Summit a success.

10. But beyond this, Singapore is committed to taking strong national actions to address climate change.

11. We have put forward an ambitious 2030 climate pledge under the Paris Agreement. We are currently in the process of formulating our 2050 strategy with a view to have it ready for submission next year. We also intend to review and update our 2030 climate pledge as part of this exercise.

12. The UN Secretary-General has outlined three key “asks” of all countries, notably to (i) stop subsidising fossil fuels, (ii) put a price on carbon, and (iii) phase out the use of coal by 2020.

13. I am pleased to say that Singapore is already responding to this call.

14. First, we do not subsidise fossil fuels and even apply taxes, such as fuel levies, on some of them. Singapore’s approach has always been to price our resources to reflect the cost of externalities so that consumers and businesses take into account the real cost of using these resources and avoid excessive consumption or waste. Energy, including renewables, is subject to market pricing to encourage efficient usage.

15. Second, Singapore is the first country in Southeast Asia to introduce a carbon tax. From the start of this year, we have introduced a carbon tax to put a direct price on greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon tax will send a right price signal to our industry and forms an integral part of our suite of mitigation measures to incentivise emissions reduction across all sectors, and transition to a low-carbon economy. To support this transition, we will use the carbon tax revenue to provide grants and incentives to help businesses reduce their emissions and become more carbon efficient.  Although we are starting with a modest carbon tax, this is an economy-wide tax with no exemptions. This rate will be reviewed in 2023, with the intention to double or triple the tax by 2030.

16. Third, since 2005, Singapore has taken steps to use a cleaner fuel mix for our electricity generation, switching from fuel oil to natural gas. Currently, natural gas constitutes about 95% of our fuel mix for electricity generation. Many banks in Singapore have also declared that they will cease the financing of new coal-fired plants beyond their existing commitments, and step up financing for renewables instead. While there are limits to the deployment of alternative or renewable energy resources in Singapore given our small size, we will continue to invest actively in research on clean energy technologies and explore other options, including importing clean hydrogen. However, we recognise that countries have different constraints and different pathways to energy transition.

17. To conclude, Singapore is committed to supporting the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to galvanise ambitious climate actions across the globe. Even though we contribute no more than 0.11 percent of global emissions, we are committed to playing our part and taking strong national actions as part of our contribution to the global efforts to address climate change.

18. I thank you for this opportunity to contribute to the process, and I look forward to having a productive exchange with my esteemed colleagues today.

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