Singapore has an ambitious vision of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
It’s laudable and indeed, the right step forward — as a collective whole — to ensure a more sustainable future for generations of Singaporeans to come.
However, this transition to a low-carbon future might be more challenging for some segments of society and businesses.
Six PAP MPs spoke up on this issue during the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Committee of Supply debate today (Feb. 28, 2023).
Help local businesses with their green transition
Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) spoke up for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who face challenges in implementing sustainability practices.
“The net-zero goal will increasingly become a prerequisite in the expectations of customers, investors as well as regulators across the world. It is urgent that we support our SMEs to take action to stay competitive and relevant.”
Amid growing pressure to adapt, Ms Foo called on the Government to helps businesses with their green transitions via four interventions:
“First, promote sector-based sustainability roadmaps, frameworks, and uniform standards to level up knowledge and understanding.
Two, support our companies with pre-identified sector-based green solutions to fast-track adoption, including supporting them in tests, bidding new ideas, and experimenting with new technologies.
Three, leverage the ecosystem to build scalable green capabilities and collaborations including knowledge-sharing platforms.
Four, build a framework to help companies comply with reporting requirements and compliance practices that are required by their counterparties.”
Similarly, Mr Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC) called for Government assistance for SMEs, especially in the area of measuring their emissions.
“What are the quantifiable aims of the Enterprise Sustainability Programme (ESP)? How does Enterprise Singapore promote this ESP to the 200,000 SMEs in Singapore?”
Being able to measure, track, and report their own carbon footprint is “not easy to do, but essential to stay relevant in tomorrow’s green supply chain” said Mr Derrick Goh (Nee Soon GRC).
Encouraging businesses to do so involves a mix of push factors (like the carbon tax) and pull factors, said Mr Goh, who requested examples of the latter that will help SMEs in their green transition.
Mr Goh also touched on the opportunities for Singapore to lead in the green economy, as the market is still nascent and growing.
“There are opportunities for Singapore and our businesses to lead in the development of a credible regulatory framework and standards for carbon credits.”
They will help establish Singapore as green hub and a trusted international centre for professional services, he explained.
“To this end, can MTI share more on how businesses including SMEs and the service sector can play an expanded role as part of plans to establish Singapore as an international green hub?”
Ms Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC) touched on the need for the Government to assist businesses with the cost of their green transition.
Business costs in the manufacturing and services sectors have been increasing and are projected to continue rising, explained Ms Tan.
But sustainability requires new innovative practices and technology, which would incur more cost for local businesses.
“How will the Government make it viable for businesses to embark on sustainability initiatives to reduce costs?
What support can be given to businesses to address current business cost pressures as they make the investments to transition?”
Keeping energy affordable
Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) and Ms Jessica Tan devoted cuts to the issue of energy security.
Mr Saktiandi said that ordinary Singaporeans and companies are concerned with the short term affordability of electricity and requested an update on the status and timeline of the Energy Market Authority’s ongoing consultation to enhance the regulatory regime for electricity retailers.
“How will Singapore safeguard our energy security and advance our energy transition despite our fiscal constraints and at the same time balance with the green transition?
How are we prepared to deal with increased volatility in the global energy market?”
Ms Tan highlighted the need for Singapore to transition to renewable energy in a gradual fashion as “our current sources of renewable energy are not sufficient to support all households and businesses”.
She also pointed out that the adoption of renewable energy options might incur greater operational costs for businesses.
“How is the government investing to build Singapore’s energy security to enable reliable and affordable sources of energy for businesses in line with our economic goals and environmental needs?”
Powering on with green transition and green-skilling
Even as the world reverts to the use of traditional sources energy in response to a global supply disruption, countries must not forget the urgency and need for a green transition.
“The notion that energy security has to be secured at the expense of energy transition is a false one. We need to address both in parallel in Singapore,” said Ms Mariam Jaafar (Sembawang GRC).
Citing how 40 per cent of Singapore’s overall emissions come from the power sector, Ms Mariam said that decarbonising this sector is an urgent priority.
“Can the Minister also provide an update on Singapore’s efforts to enhance our energy security and accelerate our energy transition, including driving energy efficiency, deployment of solar, development of emerging low-carbon technologies such as hydrogen and CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage), and the importance of renewable energy?”
Ms Mariam also addressed the need for talent to fill green jobs. While there is a high demand for such jobs, there remains a “significant gap in supply”.
“There is a need for a more urgent agenda in green-skilling that addresses these gaps. Existing skilling efforts must be sharpened and accelerated.”
“Can the Minister provide an update on how Singapore will develop the skills needed for the green economy and its workforce?”
Images via Facebook, Sandra Tan on Unsplash