Singapore boosts UN climate targets, confirms net zero by 2050

Singapore boosts UN climate targets, confirms net zero by 2050

SINGAPORE – The Republic will set 2050 as the year Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions will reach net zero, and on Tuesday also announced a stronger 2030 target.

The government had previously said it was considering a net zero by 2050 target.

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions will reach about 60 million tonnes in 2030 after peaking earlier.

“We had previously committed to peak our emissions in 2030 at 65 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent,” he told the opening of Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW).

“We will now aim to peak our emissions earlier, and reduce our emissions to around 60 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2030. This five million tonnes improvement is significant. It is equivalent to reducing our current transport emissions by two-thirds.”

He also said the public sector will commit to achieve net zero emissions around 2045, while new developments within the Jurong Lake District will reach net zero emissions around 2045 as well.

SIEW is one of the region’s largest energy conferences, bringing together governments, industry, investors and academia. This year’s event, the 15th time it has been held, is dominated by the global energy crisis and the need to speed up the transition to a greener and more secure energy future.

Mr Wong said Singapore had gradually reduced its emissions, achieving a reduction of 32 per cent below business-as-usual levels by 2020 to 52.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This was double the 16 per cent reduction pledged in 2009, giving the Government the confidence to raise its climate ambition.

He said achieving net zero by 2050 will be a stretch target but a necessary one and achieving it would involve deploying new technology, such as scaling up low-carbon hydrogen, electricity imports, solar energy, carbon offsets and other steps.

Mr Wong said that to enhance Singapore’s energy security, “we must redouble efforts to green our energy sources because climate change is happening at an even faster pace”.

“The energy crisis and the climate crisis have become a vicious cycle. And the world cannot afford to choose between an energy crisis and a climate crisis,” he said. “To have energy security, we will need to resolve the climate crisis, too.”

But overall success meant international collaboration under the 2015 United Nations Paris climate agreement. “The transition to net zero demands ambitious and collective action,” he said in his opening address.

The revisions to Singapore’s climate targets come two weeks before the start of the COP27 United Nations climate talks in Egypt. The annual talks bring together nearly 200 nations as well as business leaders and civil society, and are the main negotiating session for global climate diplomacy.

At last year’s COP26 talks in Glasgow in Scotland, nations were asked to revisit and strengthen their 2030 targets by the end of this year. This was in recognition that collective global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions are still not enough to limit global warming to 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels. The world has already warmed 1.2 deg C since the mid-19th century.

The UN’s climate science panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says limiting warming to around 1.5 deg C requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43 per cent by 2030. Last year, global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, reached another peak.

While Singapore is strengthening its 2030 target, its emissions will still grow before starting to fall towards the end of this decade to reach net zero by 2050. Net zero means any residual emissions from hard-to-abate sectors, such as aviation or some industrial processes, will be removed by buying carbon offsets or using technology that removes CO2 from the atmosphere.