Singapore, an island city-state off southern Malaysia, is a global financial center with a tropical climate and multicultural population. Its colonial core centers on the Padang, a cricket field since the 1830s and now flanked by grand buildings such as City Hall, with its 18 Corinthian columns.
- Current national development outcomes, challenges and prospects, and their relationship with climate change.
Although Singapore’s share of global emissions is only around 0.11%, we face disproportionate risks from the negative impact of climate change in an increasingly warming world. Singapore therefore views climate change as a serious issue, and works actively to advocate a multilateral rules-based approach to addressing this global challenge. Singapore was among the first 55 countries to ratify the Paris Agreement, thereby contributing to its early entry into force on 4 November 2016.
Singapore’s Mitigation Efforts
As part of our commitment under the Paris Agreement, we put forward a pledge to reduce our emissions intensity by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030, and to stabilise emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030. This is an ambitious target, given our land constraints, lack of natural resources, urban density, and our geographic and climatic conditions, which pose challenges to harnessing alternative clean energy sources such as hydro, wind, and geothermal energy.
To drive a Whole-of-Nation effort in addressing climate change, Singapore launched a Climate Action Plan in 2016. Our key mitigation strategies are: (a) improving energy efficiency; (b) reducing carbon emissions from power generation; (c) developing deploying cutting-edge low-carbon technologies; and (d) encouraging collective action among government agencies, individuals, businesses, and the community. More information on our Climate Action Plan for a carbon-efficient Singapore can be found here.
To supplement our slew of mitigation measures, Singapore also became the first country in Southeast Asia to implement a carbon tax beginning in 2019. Our carbon tax of S$5 (approximately US$3.68) per tonne of CO2-equivalent (tCO2e) of greenhouse gas emissions, will be uniformly applied to all sectors without exemption. This provides a transparent, fair and consistent price signal to industries to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Although we are starting with a low tax rate of S$5/tCO2e, the tax rate will be reviewed by 2023, with the intention of doubling or tripling it by 2030.
Singapore’s Adaptation Efforts
As Singapore is a low-lying island city-state located in the tropics, climate change is an existential challenge. By 2100, we could experience a mean sea level rise of up to around 1 metre, an increase in daily mean temperatures of 1.4-4.6°C, and more extreme and intense weather events such as heavy rainfall, could become more frequent, which could also lead to more occurrences of flash floods.
To prepare and protect Singapore from these threats, we are making significant infrastructure investments and developing long-term adaptation plans. Singapore has developed a Resilience Framework to guide our adaptation planning in a flexible and dynamic manner and direct our efforts to safeguard Singapore against potential climate change impact up to 2100. Using this Resilience Framework, we have identified risks in six key areas for Singapore: coastal protection, water resources and drainage, biodiversity and greenery, public health and food security, network infrastructure, and our building structures and infrastructure. More details on Singapore’s adaptation plans and our Resilience Framework can be found here.
We are also strengthening local capabilities in climate science and modelling, and conducting studies to enhance our understanding of the risks and to inform our mitigation and adaptation plans over the longer-term. In 2013, we established the Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS) under the Meteorological Service Singapore, to conduct research on tropical weather and climate systems over Singapore and the wider Southeast Asian region. It has produced climate projections that support the formulation of national adaptation policies. Today, CCRS is one of the few dedicated climate research centres in this region. More information about the CCRS and their latest research can be found here.
International and Regional Partnerships
Singapore is committed to playing its part to support global climate action. We are working at the international, regional and bilateral levels to support global efforts in addressing the challenges of climate change.
Singapore is doing our part to support fellow developing countries’ efforts to address climate change and become more climate-resilient. Approximately 125,000 officials from more than 170 countries have benefitted from capacity building courses under the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP). In particular, Singapore launched the Climate Action Package (CAP) under the SCP in July 2018 to help developing countries build capacity in areas such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, disaster risk management and green climate financing. The CAP will run for three years from 2018 to 2020, and is targeted at officials from Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries as well as fellow Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). More information on the CAP is available here.
As Chair of ASEAN in 2018 and the ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change (2016-2019), Singapore worked to make climate change a priority for the region. We convened the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action (SAMCA) and the Expanded SAMCA (involving the ASEAN Plus Three countries (i.e. China, Japan, ROK), COP-23 and COP-24 Presidencies Fiji and Poland, respectively as well as UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa) in July 2018. ASEAN, China, Japan and the ROK reaffirmed the region’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, and discussed ways to enhance collective action to address climate change. A summary of our discussions was submitted as the region’s input to the Talanoa Dialogue.
Singapore also launched the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN), a collaborative platform for cities in ASEAN to work towards the goal of smart and sustainable development. 26 cities from all 10 ASEAN member states have been named as pilot cities and are developing concrete action plans through the ASCN. Mayors and governors from ASEAN capitals also signed the Singapore Declaration on Environmental Sustainability on 7 July 2018 in Singapore. Cities and actors at the local level in ASEAN are committed to taking practical ground-up actions to address climate change and achieve sustainable development.
Singapore will continue to collaborate and exchange information on climate science and best practices in addressing challenges arising from climate change through various channels, including the UNFCCC, ASEAN, the World Meteorological Organisation Regional Office for Asia and the South-West Pacific (located in Singapore), as well as other multilateral networks.
- Name and website links to key national institutions:
- Climate Change: National Climate Change Secretariat (www.nccs.gov.sg)
- Sustainable Development: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (www.mfa.gov.sg and www.mewr.gov.sg)
- Oceans: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mfa.gov.sg)
- Two to three success stories within your country that are directly connected to the three thematic areas above.
Year of Climate Action
Singapore designated 2018 the Year of Climate Action (YOCA) to raise public awareness on the need to take collective action to fight climate change. We received a good response from the community, with more than 340,000 individuals, corporations, non-governmental organisations and schools pledging to take climate action and over 800 related events organised by the 3P (People, Public and Private) sectors in 2018. The YOCA also resulted in the formation of the Climate Action SG Alliance, comprising a group of 20 representatives from the 3P sectors to rally the public to climate action. We will continue working with stakeholders to address and raise awareness on climate change, as only through collective efforts can our climate action momentum be effective and sustained. More information on YOCA 2018 can be found here.
Year Towards Zero Waste
To build on the momentum of the YOCA, Singapore designated 2019 the Year Towards Zero Waste (YTZW). We aim to imbue a consciousness within Singaporeans on the need to treasure our resources, and to reduce, reuse and recycle right. This will enable us to shift towards a circular economy approach for resource management, which will contribute to our ongoing efforts to address climate change. More information on the YTZW 2019 can be found here.
Renewable Energy: Solar Deployment Efforts
Singapore faces geographical constraints, which limits our ability to draw on cleaner sources of energy. While solar energy is the most promising renewable energy option, competing land uses and high cloud cover mean that Singapore is not able to generate sufficient baseload electricity from solar sources, given current technology.
Nonetheless, these constraints have not been barriers to action. Singapore relies on innovation and long-term planning to overcome our natural constraints. To increase solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment in Singapore to 350 MWp by 2020, and to 1GWp beyond 2020, we are investing in R&D and test-bedding pilot projects to improve the performance of solar PV systems, lower their cost for adoption on a larger scale, and develop innovative ways of integrating solar and other alternative energy technologies into our urban landscape. For instance, we are test-bedding floating solar systems on one of our reservoirs and conducting engineering and environmental studies into the deployment of such systems in other reservoirs.
Singapore’s First Voluntary National Review of the Sustainable Development Goals
Singapore undertook its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the 2018 High-Level Political Forum in New York. We shared our experiences in implementing several SDGs, such as water and sanitation (SDG 6), sustainable cities (SDG 11), affordable and clean energy (SDG 7) and climate action (SDG 13). We also undertook a social media and publicity campaign to drum up public interest and support for the SDGs, and to share our efforts domestically and internationally.
Our first VNR was a learning process which produced several positive outcomes long-lasting benefits which we hope to build upon before our second VNR. First, it helped mainstream the SDGs throughout our government agencies and policy-making processes. Second, it built greater awareness of the SDGs among stakeholders within Singapore that has led to several requests for greater information and proposals for consultation and collaboration on achieving the SDGs. The positive interest generated internationally has also contributed to greater opportunities for technical cooperation with fellow developing countries, UN agencies and other international organisations. Thus, in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Singapore’s flagship capacity-building programme, the Singapore Cooperation Programme, was recently aligned to help fellow developing countries achieve the 17 SDGs. Thus far, we have trained more than 125,000 government officials from more than 170 countries since the SCP’s inception. More information on the SCP is available here.
Scan the QR Code to Read Singapore’s Voluntary National Review Report 2018 (Courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore)