Climate change is one of the most pressing global challenges of our time. Singapore, despite being a small island state, is not immune to its effects. Rising temperatures, sea levels, and extreme weather events pose a significant threat to the country’s infrastructure, economy, and society. In response to this challenge, the government of Singapore has implemented a range of policies and initiatives aimed at mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change. This article provides an overview of some of these policies and initiatives.
Mitigating Climate Change: The Paris Agreement and Carbon Pricing
Singapore has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030 and to stabilize its emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030. To achieve these targets, Singapore ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016, which aims to keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
One of the key policies to achieve Singapore’s mitigation targets is the implementation of a carbon pricing scheme. In 2018, Singapore introduced a carbon tax on large emitters of greenhouse gases. This tax applies to facilities that produce 25,000 tonnes or more of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year. The tax is set at SGD 5 per tonne of CO2e for the first five years, and it will be increased to SGD 10-15 per tonne of CO2e from 2023 onwards.
The carbon tax sends a price signal to companies to reduce their emissions, thus incentivizing them to adopt cleaner technologies and practices. The revenue from the carbon tax is used to support green initiatives and to help affected industries to transition to a low-carbon economy.
Promoting Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Singapore’s small land area limits the potential for large-scale renewable energy projects such as wind or solar farms. However, the country has been exploring other options to increase its renewable energy capacity. One of the initiatives is the SolarNova program, which aims to deploy solar panels on public sector buildings to generate at least 2 gigawatt-peak of solar power by 2030. As of 2021, the program has installed solar panels on more than 1,200 public sector buildings.
Another initiative is the Open Electricity Market (OEM), which was launched in 2018. The OEM allows households and businesses to buy electricity from a retailer of their choice, promoting competition and innovation in the electricity market. The OEM also offers consumers the option to choose electricity plans that use renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power.
In addition to promoting renewable energy, Singapore has been implementing policies to increase energy efficiency in buildings, transportation, and industry. The Energy Efficiency National Partnership (EENP) is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to improve their energy efficiency through a range of measures, such as the adoption of energy-efficient technologies, behavior change, and benchmarking. Since its launch in 2010, more than 2,500 organizations have joined the program, saving more than 1.6 million tonnes of CO2e.
Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change
While mitigation is important, Singapore recognizes that some level of climate change is inevitable and that it needs to prepare for its impacts. The government has developed a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS) to guide its efforts in adapting to the impacts of climate change.
One of the initiatives under the NCCAS is the Coastal Protection and Flood Mitigation Program (CPFMP), which aims to strengthen the country’s coastal defenses and reduce the risk of flooding. The CPFMP includes the construction of new seawalls, the enhancement