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Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing At Committee Of Supply 2021 – Joint Segment on Sustainability

Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing At Committee Of Supply 2021 – Joint Segment on Sustainability

“BECOMING A BRIGHT GREEN SPARK: AN ECONOMY OF STEWARDSHIP”

Introduction

1. Mdm Chair, all of us in this House have spent the last 55 years defending and securing this Little Red Dot of ours. We tried all ways to keep it going, growing and glowing. 

2. In the next 50 years, we will have the chance to turn this little red dot into a bright green spark. A bright green spark with a new economy and a new way of life that will provide our future generations with more options, and allow them to look back with greater pride. 

3. To achieve this, we will do three things:

a. Go Green, by embracing a sustainability mindset in our production and consumption;

b. Grow Green, by embracing and seizing new opportunities in the green economy; and

c. Glow Green, by being an inspiration to the world, demonstrating positively and constructively how a dense urban society can use its resources sustainably and leave behind a better future for generations to come.

Go Green – Engendering a Sustainability Mindset

4. Let us begin with going green. 

Individuals

5. We must review the way we consume. In an increasingly carbon-constrained future, our personal consumption choices will have greater bearing on the environment. Whether it is choosing to use less air-conditioning, opting for public transportation, or purchasing products that are more sustainably produced, all of us, as Minister Tan See Leng said, can adjust some bits of our lifestyles to make this transition. This is a commitment we can all make. As Minister Grace Fu said, it is a commitment not just for our own benefit. It is a commitment to our future generations.

Corporates and industries

6. This commitment applies not just to individuals but also to corporates. In a carbon-constrained future, being able to operate and produce sustainably will be key attributes of successful enterprises. Increasingly, consumers are much more discerning and place greater value on sustainable products and services.

a. This is where Enterprise Singapore’s (ESG) Enterprise Sustainability Programme (ESP) comes in, to help build a strong breed of local enterprises that can harness sustainability as a competitive advantage. 

b. We envision these enterprises to be pioneers and experts in developing solutions that are highly demanded in the green economy. Such solutions could range from clean energy, energy efficiency, waste valorisation, water treatment, and so forth. These enterprises would also possess the mindset that every project they undertake should account for the impact on the environment.

c. More details on the ESP will be released later this year.

7. Businesses must be increasingly mindful of the need to embrace Environmental, Social, and Governance imperatives in their business practices. For those new to this journey, we can start small. Success is the sum of many small steps. And success belongs to the determined. Sustainability must be in our mindsets.

Grow Green – Seizing Green Growth Opportunities

8. As we commit ourselves to a greener future, we must also grow green, by seizing new opportunities in the green economy. 

Existing sectors

9. Our existing industries will continue to transform. For traditionally energy-intensive sectors such as petrochemicals and agri-tech, we will need to achieve breakthroughs in carbon and energy efficiency, through innovation. With our Industry 4.0 push, we are striving to manufacture more efficiently, using less materials, as well as to produce more sustainably for the world. 

a. Our Energy and Chemicals (E&C) sector is becoming more vital in accelerating our charge towards environmental sustainability. It will continue to enable many other parts of our economy and it will continue to produce for the world. But it will do so more sustainably. To get there, we are taking active steps to transform the sector.

b. We are partnering companies that are developing cleaner products and decarbonisation solutions.

c. We are enhancing the Investment Allowance for Emissions Reduction (IA-ER) scheme (previously known as the Investment Allowance for Energy Efficiency Scheme). Apart from improving energy efficiency, the IA-ER will also support projects that result in direct reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Details will be announced later this year.

d. We are also stepping up decarbonisation and resource optimisation efforts at the plant and systems levels, to transform Jurong Island into a sustainable energy and chemicals park.

10. Ten years from now, we also expect that global tourism will have sprung back into a more vibrant sector. Tourists will have a greater interest in sustainable travel options, for example, eco-friendly hotels and attractions. To prepare ourselves for these opportunities, we are transforming Sentosa into a carbon-neutral destination by 2030. Through such efforts, we will strengthen Singapore as an exemplary sustainable tourism destination.

New sectors

11. But there are also new opportunities. Leveraging our strengths as a business hub, we envisage that our future industry mix will comprise more green growth sectors. We can envisage:

a. Singapore as having leveraged our brand of trust to grow a carbon services sector, with a strong value chain anchored in Singapore. People will turn to us for services including project development, financing, trading, for the credits market, as well as measurement, reporting and verification services.

b. Singapore’s capabilities and offerings in green financing will also be deepened, to catalyse the growth of new businesses in the green economy, while enhancing our competitiveness as a hub for sustainable solutions. Just as cashflow is the lifeblood of businesses, financing is a key enabler for the green economy.

12. But we must also pace our transformation. We must ensure that our industries are not displaced by sudden economic structural changes. I am certain Members of this House will agree with us that when we review our carbon prices, we must be very conscious of the impact that this will have on our current and future competitiveness and the consequent impact on the jobs and livelihoods of all Singaporeans.

New jobs

13. This brings me to the next point on opportunities for our people – the centrepiece in Singapore’s economic journey. We expect to see high demand for skills to help corporates, even governments, to navigate the complexities of the green transition. The transformation of our industries and the rise of green innovation will germinate new jobs, to help solve sustainability problem statements faced by the region, and globally.

14. Singaporeans can take advantage of these bright spots by upskilling and re-skilling ourselves. We can be better-placed to capture these new opportunities. We can also help our corporates deliver on their sustainability mandates, and countries to advance their charge towards a more sustainable economy. And we will continue to find our place in the green economy.

Glow Green – Being an Inspiration to the World

15. Finally, we aspire to glow green. We can be a bright green spark, by being an inspiration to the world on how we overcome sustainability-related constraints. We have done so for water over the last 50 years. We have also done it for transportation, and the way we build and organise our city; we are going to do so for energy, because that will be a big part of glowing green – not just for ourselves but for the whole world. Singapore’s birth and growth have never been defined by circumstances, challenges or constraints. Instead we have always been defined by the way we respond, overcome and create opportunities for ourselves through it all.

16. This is why under the Research, Innovation, and Enterprise Plan 2025, we are attracting companies to anchor their R&D activities in Singapore. We will continue to support the startup and innovation ecosystems in sustainability-related sectors. We endeavour to help others overcome their sustainability constraints, both regionally and globally. Innovation and transformation are symbiotic. We can strive to overcome our challenges and in turn, our solutions can provide options to the world.

Conclusion – An Economy of Stewardship

17. Mdm Chair, ultimately, growing our green economy entails a stewardship of reserves – financially, socially, and environmentally. We must strive to go from brown to green, carbon to clean. Only then can we pass on a healthy and sustainable portion of these reserves to future generations.

18. Growing our green economy is also about a stewardship of opportunity. The bright spots that I mentioned and the ambitions that I shared are not lofty ideals. These are potential real outcomes that we believe Singapore and Singaporeans can achieve – together. So, I urge everyone to consider how we can each contribute, how our economy will be greener, our people will be more relevant, and our society, ever resilient. This will be our new normal, our new charge and our new opportunity.

19. Yes, there is a lot at stake for the environment; but also for Singapore’s future, our economy, and the livelihoods of Singaporeans. The road ahead may be long. But with resolve and cooperation, we think we can go fast, we can go far, and we can go together. And together, we will not only defend this little red dot, we will turn this little red dot into a bright green spark, to be an inspiration for future generations and the world.

20. Thank you.

 
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