Parliament Q&A

Written reply by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources to Parliamentary Question on COP25 on 6 Jan 2020

TOPICS: Climate Change

Question by Mr Seah Kian Peng. To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources with the failure of recent UN Climate Talks (COP25), what are the implications for Singapore.


Question by Mr Christopher de Souza. To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether he will provide an update on the progress made at the 25th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP25) which took place in December 2019; and (b) what further steps can Singapore undertake to do its part to create a more green and sustainable global environment.



COP25 was the longest COP on record, with intensive and protracted negotiations. But Parties failed to reach an agreement on a number of issues, most notably Article 6 of the Paris Agreement – a key agenda item on carbon markets and trading, and the only remaining track that has yet to find a successful resolution since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015.

2 An agreement on Article 6 on carbon markets will enable countries to pursue cost-effective mitigation options beyond their shores. Put simply, it will enable countries with limited mitigation potential to buy carbon credits from countries where the cost of mitigation is lower. The latter countries are usually those with green lungs and such a system will incentivise them to maintain them. The Article 6 framework can also generate much needed funding for vulnerable developing countries to cope with the impacts of climate change in the future.

3 It is crucial that countries agree on a clear, balanced and credible set of rules that protects environment integrity and upholds the goals of the Paris Agreement. Badly designed rules may create loopholes and lead to an increase in global emissions. At COP25, we were close to an agreement, but more work remains for it to be agreed upon by all Parties. Singapore will continue to work closely with other countries, including the incoming UK COP-26 Presidency, to secure a credible outcome on Article 6 at the COP-26 in Glasgow.

4 Notwithstanding the failure to reach agreement on this key issue, we did make some progress at COP25. Countries successfully adopted the overarching decisions at COP25, which I was pleased to co-facilitate with Spain’s Minister for the Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera, at the request of the Chilean COP25 Presidency. Amongst other things, the decisions recognised the role of multilateralism, at a time when it is under strain. They will serve to keep countries, with diverse interests, united in their resolve to work together to address challenges of the global commons, like climate change. They called on countries to consider the emissions gap and to submit their updated climate pledges. The decisions also acknowledged the role of climate finance by the developed countries, which is essential for concrete action. Beyond the call for action, discussions will be convened in new areas of concern like the Ocean and its climate impact.

5 While the outcome at COP25 fell short of expectations, the decisions adopted in Madrid will keep the drive to address climate change alive. The continued momentum on global climate action is especially important for small countries like Singapore, which depend on a strong global response to tackle climate change. I was particularly struck by the support and energy of our civil society, particularly the youths, private sector representatives, and academics, who were all united in their efforts to address climate change. As we head towards the next COP in Glasgow, the challenge will be to maintain this spirit of inclusive multilateralism in order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC.

6 As a small low-lying state that is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, Singapore will play our part to support the global effort to address climate change.

7 Internationally, Singapore remains committed to faithfully implementing our Paris commitments. We have committed to slow down and ultimately cap our CO2 emissions around 2030. We will update our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and communicate our long-term low emissions development strategy in 2020. We will also continue to contribute to global efforts led by international organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to reduce emissions, as well as collaborate actively with international partners such as the UNFCCC, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), ASEAN and city-networks such as the C40, to share our experiences and the use of best practices across the globe.

8 Regionally, we will continue to partner and support fellow developing countries to ramp up capacity-building and other support mechanisms to support their efforts to enhance climate action. For example, in October 2019, as part of our Climate Action Package, we co-organised with New Zealand a workshop on the Paris rulebook to help countries in the region better understand their obligations under the Paris Agreement, and to identify concrete actions and strategies that can be pursued. Next week, we will be co-organising a workshop on updating NDCs for ASEAN countries.

9 Nationally, we will continue with our efforts to develop Singapore in a sustainable and socially-inclusive way, do our part to reduce our emissions, and strengthen our climate resilience for the transition to a low-carbon future. Singapore has implemented an economy-wide carbon tax last year – the first in Southeast Asia to do so – as a key plank of our mitigation strategy. The revenue will be used to support emission reduction projects and help businesses become more resource and energy efficient. Despite limited access to alternative sources of energy, we will leverage long-term planning, innovation, and international cooperation to address climate change. By pursuing circular economy approaches, and rallying stakeholders towards sustainable growth, we can continue to create opportunities for our businesses and our people, in an increasingly resource- and carbon-constrained world. Last year, we launched a Zero Waste Masterplan and enacted a Resource Sustainability Act to design waste and wastefulness out of our economy. 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. We will continue with our sustainability efforts this year by focusing on food and how we can work together to secure a more resilient and sustainable supply of food for our citizens.

10 Climate change is an existential challenge for Singapore. To ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy a vibrant and liveable city, we must put sustainability at the centre of everything we do. Yet, climate change is not something that we can tackle by ourselves, and we will also do our part as a responsible global citizen and contribute to international and regional efforts to address climate change and create a “greener” and more sustainable global environment.

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