The Singapore government unveiled the Singapore Green Plan 2030 ("Green Plan") in February 2021, a "whole-of-nation movement" to advance Singapore's national agenda on sustainable development. A progress update on the Green Plan was provided during the Committee of Supply Debate in March 2022 ("Green Plan Progress Update"), where the Singapore government made various updates and announcements on the key targets and initiatives in support of the Green Plan.
The Green Plan charts ambitious and concrete targets over the next decade, strengthening Singapore's commitments under the United Nation's 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement.
Key Pillars of the Green Plan
The Green Plan seeks to rally bold and collective action to tackle climate change, and positions Singapore to achieve its long-term net-zero emissions aspiration as soon as viable.
Spearheaded by five ministries, the Green Plan features five key pillars: (i) City in Nature, (ii) Sustainable Living, (iii) Energy Reset, (iv) Green Economy, and (v) Resilient Future. In order to achieve these pillars, the Singapore government has introduced a wide array of initiatives and support measures in the research and development, energy, green finance, sustainable tourism, and land transport sectors.
Overview of Initiatives and Support Measures
Enterprise Sustainability Programme. As part of the Singapore government's efforts to empower, invest in, and partner companies and communities in the green transition, Enterprise Singapore ("ESG") launched the S$180 million Enterprise Sustainability Programme to support Singapore companies, especially small and medium enterprises, in their sustainability journey and to capture opportunities in the green economy in order to remain competitive in the local and global economy. Such support will focus on three key components—developing sustainability capabilities in enterprises, strengthening sector-specific capabilities, and fostering a vibrant and conducive sustainability ecosystem. ESG is also working with industry partners to develop training workshops and capability or product development projects.
Leading Centre for Green Finance. A key target under the Green Plan is for Singapore to be a leading centre for green finance in Asia and globally. To facilitate Singapore's transition to a low-carbon economy and spur Singapore's development as a green finance hub, the Singapore government announced at Budget 2022 that the public sector will issue S$35 billion of green bonds by 2030 to fund public sector green infrastructure projects.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore is also working on a comprehensive, long-term strategy to make sustainable finance a defining feature of Singapore's role as an international financial centre, and taking active steps to promote sustainable financing. For instance, the Green Finance Industry Taskforce has issued a detailed implementation guide for climate-related disclosure by financial institutions, a framework to help banks assess eligible green trade finance transactions, and a white paper outlining recommendations and laying out a roadmap to scale green finance in the real estate, infrastructure, fund management, and transition sectors. Most recently, in June 2022, the Singapore government published the Singapore Green Bond Framework, a governance framework for sovereign green bonds issuances. The proceeds from green bonds issued under such framework will be used to finance expenditures in support of the Green Plan.
Solar Deployment. As Singapore steps toward a green and low-carbon future, the Singapore government targets to increase solar deployment, together with an increase in the deployment of energy storage to address solar intermittency and enhance grid resilience. One of the aims is to increase solar energy development by five-fold to at least a two gigawatt-peak by 2030, so as to generate enough electricity to power around 350,000 households a year. To achieve its solar target, solar PV systems have been installed on the rooftops of Housing Development Board flats and estates, the Changi Business Park, the central business district, and the Tengeh Reservoir.
Impact of the Green Plan on Singapore and the Asia-Pacific Region
In the Green Plan Progress Update, the Singapore government raised its ambition to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by or around the mid-century. This decisive move is intended to establish the economy's competitive edge early in a low-carbon future, and create new growth opportunities in industry, services, and finance. The Green Plan brings about new opportunities in areas such as green finance, carbon services, and trading and sustainable tourism in Singapore.
Singapore's sustainability efforts and ambitions may create new green growth potential for the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. In particular, its strategic position as a regional hub in Southeast Asia can empower the region in its sustainability and decarbonisation efforts and accelerate Southeast Asia's green transition.
The Green Plan demonstrates Singapore's willingness to take firm actions to build a sustainable future and address climate change. The Singapore government has hailed the Green Plan as a "living plan" which will evolve with the Singapore society as new technologies and solutions present new options.
As sustainability efforts gain traction in the global economy, there is a greater urgency for Singapore to achieve its targets under the Green Plan if it wishes to lead the region in sustainable development and financing. Nevertheless, the initiatives and measures already taken by the Singapore government under the Green Plan are proactive and concrete steps toward a low-carbon future.