Despite its high economic capacity, Singapore has a very weak climate target, which is it is likely to over-achieve without implementing any additional policies, so it needs to substantially strengthen its target to reflect its high economic capacity. While it has considerably expanded its renewable energy capacity, Singapore’s main focus for climate mitigation is now on energy efficiency programmes. However, this will not compensate for the increasing energy demand from the industry and buildings sectors, which will result in rising emissions.
Singapore’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) emissions target of a 36% reduction of emissions intensity below 2005 levels by 2030 is very weak compared to currently implemented policies, which, according to our analysis, will lead to emissions in 2030 of 60 MtCO2e, or a 123% increase above 1994 levels. Even without any additional policies, Singapore will overachieve its NDC target and reach a reduction of more than 40% in 2030. We rate Singapore’s NDC 2030 target “Highly insufficient..”
The most recent development in Singapore´s mitigation strategy is the Government’s plan to implement a carbon tax from 2019. A carbon tax, targeting upstream emissions, should encourage more renewable energy in place of fossil fuel energy by adding a price for the emitted carbon. The CAT has not quantified the potential mitigation impact of this carbon tax due to insufficient details on this policy.
Singapore’s implemented mitigation policies have focused on replacing oil in the electricity generation sector for less carbon intensive fossil fuels, resulting in natural gas representing over 96% of the energy mix in 2016. To diversify its energy mix, Singapore has significantly expanded its solar energy capacity in recent years, going from 3 MW of installed Solar-PV capacity in 2014 to over 46 MW in 2015 (Energy Market Authority, 2017). However, Singapore’s energy mix is likely to remain very uniform in the future, resulting in a prolonged dependence on fossil-fuels.
Outside the power generation sector, Singapore’s mitigation efforts almost exclusively consist of measures aimed at further improving energy-efficiency through programmes like Green Mark standards for buildings, public transport, fuel efficiency standards, home appliance efficiency standards, industrial energy efficiency, and waste management.
Paris Agreement targets
Singapore officially ratified the Paris Agreement (PA) on September 21, 2016. Its NDC target is a reduction of emissions intensity of GDP by 36% below 2005 levels by 2030 and stabilising emissions, aiming for them to peak around 65 MtCO2e in 2030 (Singapore Government, 2015).
Under the Copenhagen agreement, Singapore committed to reduce its emissions by 7-11% below BAU emissions in 2020 unilaterally and, in the event of a legally binding international agreement, by 16% below BAU. The National Climate Change Strategy includes several unconditional mitigation targets for the same year, e.g. a 35% reduction in energy intensity from 2005 levels (National Climate Change Secretariat, 2012).
Of concern is that the BAU pathway provided by the government as reference for the 2020 target assumed the emissions intensity of the economy would go in the opposite direction from the historical trend, increasing significantly until 2020. Despite the fact the emissions intensity of GDP dropped 48% between 2000 and 2010, the BAU pathway assumes a 17% increase between 2010 and 2020.
We rate Singapore’s 2020 and 2030 targets as “Highly Insufficient.” The “Highly Insufficient” rating indicates that Singapore’s climate commitments in 2017 are not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement, and are instead consistent with warming between 3°C and 4°C: if all countries were to follow Singapore’s approach, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C. This means Singapore’s climate commitments are not in line with any interpretation of a “fair” approach to the former 2°C goal, let alone the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. If the CAT were to rate Singapore’s projected emissions levels in 2017 under current policies, we would also rate Singapore “Highly Insufficient.”
For further information about the risks and impacts associated with the temperature levels of each of the categories click here.
According to our current policy emissions pathway, Singapore’s GHG emissions will continue rising steadily in the coming decades, reaching 60 MtCO2e in 2030, mainly due to expected stable economic growth and a total primary energy supply strongly influenced by the chemical, petrochemical and oil refining industries. Despite the continued emissions growth projected under current policies, Singapore’s emissions will be lower than its 2020 and 2030 emissions targets, demonstrating the inadequacy of those targets. Essentially, Singapore can achieve its emissions mitigation goals with no additional efforts beyond currently implemented policies.
The most recent development in Singapore´s mitigation strategy is that the government aims to implement a carbon tax from 2019, following wide consultation with stakeholders. It is proposing to tax upstream users (such as power stations and other large direct emitters, rather than electricity users) at a tax rate of between S$10 to S$20 (USD$7.33 to $14.65). The revenue collected will fund measures to reduce emissions (Singapore’s Government., 2017). A carbon tax should encourage more renewable energy in place of fossil fuel energy through changes in relative prices. The CAT has not quantified the potential mitigation impact of this carbon tax due to insufficient details on this policy.
Singapore´s mitigation strategy is based on three areas: increasing energy and carbon efficiency, reducing carbon emissions in power generation, and developing low-carbon technology (Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, 2016).
Improving energy efficiency across the economy is the backbone of Singapore’s mitigation strategy. In its latest National Climate Action Plan (Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, 2016), the government listed a number of policies to improve energy efficiency across all sectors, including an Energy Conservation Act, Green Mark Certification and Energy Labelling schemes, and home appliances Energy Performance Standards, among others. The Government has also implemented a target of 80% of buildings to be certified green buildings by 2030 (Singapore’s Government., n.d.).
The multiple energy efficiency measures are expected to improve energy and emissions intensity, but will not compensate for the increasing energy demand from the industry and buildings sectors, which will result in rising emissions (APERC, 2015). By contrast, the transport sector energy demand and associated emissions are expected to stagnate as a result of multiple measures to promote public transport and improve the emissions intensity of road transport. The Carbon-Emissions based Vehicle Scheme will be replaced with the Vehicle Emissions Scheme in 2018, which will expand the range of pollutants covered (Singapore’s Government., 2017).
For the power generation sector, the major trend in recent decades has been to replace oil with natural gas. As a result, the consumption of gas has increased six-fold since the early 2000’s (Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, 2016). In 2016, more than 96% of Singapore’s electricity was provided by gas-fired power plants, an increase from below 70% a decade earlier (Energy Market Authority, 2017). However, even if the emissions from natural gas are lower than those from other fossil fuels, they are nevertheless still C02 emissions. Also, processes like gas liquefaction, transportation and regasification significantly increase Singapore’s carbon footprint and reduce its emissions reduction potential.
Renewables also play a role in the mitigation strategy for the power sector: in order to diversify its energy mix Singapore has significantly expanded its solar energy capacity in recent years, going from 3 MW of installed Solar-PV capacity in 2014 to over 46 MW in 2015 (Energy Market Authority, 2017). The national target for renewables is to increase installed solar capacity from to 350MW in 2020 and to increase the renewable electricity share to 8% of peak power in 2030 (Singapore’s Government, 2015).
Additional policies in the power sector include multiple incentives to increase the share of renewable generation, including the “SolarNova” programme and the expansion of Waste-to-Energy (WTE) capacity. However, this increased contribution of renewables is not sufficient to stop electricity emissions rising, given the projected stable increase in power demand and generation (APERC, 2015). IRENA’s roadmap for the ASEAN region suggests renewables could account for 10% of Singapore’s electricity generation by 2025 (International Renewable Energy Agency., 2016).
Even assuming Singapore cannot substantially strengthen its mitigation policies due to domestic factors like the limits to renewables, a more ambitious mitigation target – that could be reached by shifting to a cleaner energy supply through selective energy imports - would demonstrate the government’s commitment to contributing its fair share to global climate change mitigation.
Pledge and historical emissions
Singapore provided a national greenhouse gas inventory for 1994, 2000 and 2010, and emission projections for 2020 for a business as usual (BAU) scenario. Data for emissions in between 1994 and 2000 was calculated using linear interpolation and emissions between 2000 and 2010 were taken from the figures presented in the Biennial Update Report (National Environment Agency, 2014)
Singapore is a city-state with one of the highest population densities in the world and is nearly completely dependent on imports for food. Most of the remaining natural areas are sanctuaries. We therefore do not consider emissions related to LULUCF sector for the analysis, as they are negligible.
The target emissions levels we use are taken directly from Singapore’s INDC, where it is clarified that to achieve the 2030 Emissions Intensity level, Singapore’s emissions are expected to stabilise at around 65 MtCO2e based on current projected growth.
Current policy projections
Our current policy emissions pathway relies on energy related CO2 emissions projections of the 6th edition of the energy outlook of the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre (APERC, 2015) and on non-CO2 projections from the United States Environment Protection Agency (US EPA, 2012); which constitute the most up-to date emissions projections for the country.
Since APERC’s energy outlook includes projections only for energy related CO2 emissions, for our current policy pathway we assume that non-energy related CO2 emissions will remain constant for the whole projection period at the last historical data level available, corresponding to 2010 (IEA, 2014). This assumption is done due to lack of projections for this type of emissions and taking into account their small and decreasing share in total emissions (4% in 1990 and 1% from 2005 to 2010).
We excluded emissions from marine and aviation bunkers when calculating the comparability range which determines the rating. These emissions are nearly three times higher than the rest of Singapore's emissions—with the great majority being related to Singapore’s role as a hub in international shipping.
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