SATURDAY, March 02, 2024

S’pore aims to channel $6.6b towards greening region, fostering partnerships

S’pore aims to channel $6.6b towards greening region, fostering partnerships

Singapore is leading the charge to create international partnerships that will channel much-needed funding towards greening the region and hopes to raise US$5 billion (S$6.6 billion) to finance the effort.

This was announced on Dec 2 by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, who delivered Singapore’s national statement at the World Climate Action Summit. The event was part of the United Nations COP28 climate conference in Dubai, and SM Teo spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Amid heightened geopolitical and economic uncertainty, he said, the world is far from achieving its climate goals. Instead of capping warming at 1.5 deg C, it is instead heading towards a 2.1 deg C to 2.8 degrees C increase by 2100.

The first Global Stocktake – an inventory of how countries are taking climate action – presents a timely opportunity for the world to correct its course to keep the target of 1.5 deg C within reach, he stressed.

“This can only be achieved if we deliver substantive, inclusive, and balanced outcomes at COP28 across mitigation, adaptation as well and means of implementation.

“At this critical juncture, we need to foster even stronger multilateral cooperation than before,” he said, noting that Singapore was reaffirming its commitment to domestic climate action, regional partnerships and global collaboration.

On the domestic front, Singapore has already raised its climate ambition – to reach net zero by 2050 and reduce emissions to 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030, after peaking emissions earlier.

The previous target was to peak emissions at 65 million tonnes in 2030, and for emissions to drop to net zero by 2050.

Among a range of measures, its carbon tax will also be increased from $5 per tonne currently to $25 per tonne from 2024, and progressively to $50 to $80 per tonne by 2030, making it one of the highest in Asia, said Mr Teo.

During the two-day summit on Dec 1 and 2, about 140 world leaders spelt out their actions to tackle climate change, which include new renewable energy investments and fresh finance pledges, to build the momentum on climate action at the start of the two-week conference.

To improve regional cooperation, the Republic is doing its part to accelerate Asia’s energy transition by channelling finance to do so, and to facilitate the trade of clean energy regionally.

It will be launching a new blended finance initiative, known as Financing Asia’s Transition Partnerships (FAST-P), that will mobilise up to US$5 billion.

Blended finance refers to getting cheaper sources of funding such as grants, and non-commercial loans from the public sector, to make marginally bankable projects less risky to attract private-sector financing. Marginally bankable projects are projects which typically do not attract private-sector financing because they may not be as profitable, such as climate adaptation projects like building sustainable infrastructure and mangrove planting.

The US$5 billion will be directed to transition projects, which refers to measures by carbon-intensive companies to lower their emissions, and marginally bankable green projects.

It is estimated that Asia will need approximately US$1.7 trillion in climate and infrastructure investments each year through 2030 to decarbonise its economies.

Singapore has also partnered with Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam to import around 4 gigawatts of low-carbon electricity by 2035, said Mr Teo.

In addition, the country will be sharing its findings from a local study on climate science and the regional impacts of climate change, so that countries in the region can better adapt to its impact, be it through enhanced food, water, and heat resilience, or through coastal and flood protection – from sea level rise.

“Singapore is committed to helping forge global consensus, to achieve substantive, balanced and inclusive outcomes,” SM Teo added.

He pointed out that Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu will be co-facilitating negotiations on mitigation with Norway, while Singapore’s chief negotiator Joseph Teo will facilitate talks on the Global Stocktake – a health check on the 2015 Paris Agreement goals – as co-chairman with the United Kingdom.

Singapore is also supporting a range of global initiatives that call for “collective and inclusive” climate action, said Mr Teo.

For one, it is supporting the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge – which refers to the tripling of the global installed capacity of renewable energy sources to 11 terawatts by 2030.

Under the pledge, the global rate of energy efficiency improvements from 2020 to 2030 must also be doubled compared to the previous decade.

Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said the world is far from achieving its climate goals.

In a bid to help reduce the global dependence on coal, the Singapore government is prepared to purchase transition credits if they meet local standards for high environmental integrity, said Mr Teo. Transition credits are a new class of carbon credits that can be generated from reductions in emissions when high-emitting coal-fired power plants are retired early, ahead of their lifespan, and replaced with cleaner energy sources.

This means that if it is proven to be credible, the Singapore government can purchase the credits to meet its national climate target. Companies, too, can purchase the credits to fulfil part of their carbon tax obligations.

To support the overall goal of halting and reversing deforestation by 2030, Singapore was among 26 countries to join the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership at COP27.

It will be among several countries and companies that will be supporting Ghana in scaling its carbon markets by generating high quality and high integrity carbon markets, mobilising finance for the West African country to transition to sustainable agriculture and mining, and helping it to transform its timber sector.

Singapore will also be signing several agreements to support carbon credits and low-carbon solutions with countries like Papua New Guinea.

Said SM Teo: “The window of opportunity to tackle climate change, the existential crisis of this generation, is small and closing quickly.

“We must urgently grasp this chance to course-correct and take decisive action to keep the target of 1.5 deg C in sight.”

Cheryl Tan

The Straits Times

Asia News Network