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Despite its high economic capacity, Singapore has a very weak climate target, which we rate as “Highly insufficient”, and is likely to over-achieve it without implementing any additional policies. Singapore needs to substantially strengthen its target. While renewable energy capacity has expanded considerably and it plans to implement a carbon tax in 2019, Singapore’s main focus for climate mitigation is on energy efficiency programmes. This will not compensate for the increasing energy demand from the industry and buildings sectors, which will result in rising emissions.
Singapore designated 2018 as its Climate Action year following a series of climate-related policy changes in 2017, such as the carbon tax announcement, and enhancements to the Energy Conservation Act. However, so far its mitigation policies and statements have sent such mixed signals that a new coal gasification plant has been able to go ahead. The incoming carbon price and other measures in 2018 may clarify the direction in which the government wants to go. However, the low starting level of the carbon tax is unlikely to generate the right incentives for a large-scale switch to carbon-free generation technologies in the medium term that would set emissions reductions on a trajectory compatible with the Paris Agreement.
Singapore’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) emissions target (a 36% reduction of emissions intensity below 2005 levels by 2030) is very weak compared to currently implemented policies. Even without any additional policies, Singapore will overachieve its NDC target and reach a reduction of 46% in emissions intensity below 2005 levels by 2030, but absolute emissions will continue to rise at least until 2030.
We rate Singapore’s NDC 2030 target “Highly insufficient”, meaning that 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.
The carbon tax, targeting upstream emissions from large emitters, will start at 5 SGD/tCO2e from 2019 to 2023 and will be reviewed by 2023 with the intention of increasing it to between 10 SGD /tCO2e and 15 SGD/tCO2e by 2030. A tax could encourage more renewable energy in place of fossil fuel energy by adding a price for the emitted carbon. However, higher tax levels are likely needed to encourage a significant shift to decarbonising the power sector.
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 expanded its solar energy capacity in recent years, going from 3 MW of installed Solar-PV capacity in 2014 to almost 100 MW in 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, green procurement, public transport, fuel efficiency standards, home appliance efficiency standards, industrial energy efficiency, and waste management. However, with a fossil fuel dependent energy mix, the effect of these policies in emissions is limited and does not compensate for the overall increase in energy demand.