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, gas remains the dominant energy source in the power sector with about 96% of generation and no clear policy signal to avoid locking in this carbon-intensive form of energy. Singapore started implementing a carbon tax in 2019, but its 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 had 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
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.
In April 2019, the government-controlled Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) announced it would stop funding new coal-fired power stations globally, yet it continues to be involved in several proposed coal power plants in Southeast Asia (Market Forces, 2019).
In the transport sector, energy demand and associated emissions are expected to flatten out as a result of multiple measures to promote public transport, modal shifts, and improve the emissions intensity of road transport.
To raise awareness of waste issues and the need to recycle resources Singapore declared 2019 as “Year Towards Zero Waste“ (Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, 2019). In the second half of 2019, the government plans to launch the Zero Waste Masterplan detailing strategies for the near future. Emissions from waste in 2014 (the last year for which data is available) amounted to around 0.63% of total emissions.
Singapore’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) emissions target is very weak compared to currently implemented policies. Even without any additional policies, Singapore will overachieve its NDC target, but absolute emissions will continue to rise at least until 2030. For full details see pledges and targets section.
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. For full details see fair share section.
The carbon tax, targeting upstream emissions from large emitters, started at 5 SGD/tCO2e from 2019 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 115 MW in Q1 2018. This now amounts to 0.8% of the country’s total registered electricity generation capacity of 13,614MW.
Additional policies in the power sector include multiple incentives to increase the share of renewable generation and the expansion of Waste-to-Energy (WTE) capacity. PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, launched a floating solar PV testbed at Tengeh Reservoir in October 2016, and has plans for floating solar projects at reservoirs. The SolarNova programme that forms part of Singapore’s plan to reach 350 MWp of installed solar PV capacity by 2020, has accepted three tenders with more to come.
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 .
Singapore has been moving to promote public transport, modal shifts and to improve the emissions intensity of road transport. In 2014, the transport sector made up 13.6% of total emissions.
Singapore’s plans to increase the length of the rail network from 230 km in 2019 to about 360 km by 2030 will enable eight in ten households to be within a ten-minute walk of a train station. Singapore’s target for the public transport modal share during morning and evening peak hours is to reach 70% by 2020 and 75% by 2030, up from 59% in 2008 and 67% in 2017.
Since February 2018, the growth of private vehicles has been effectively capped, when the permissible growth rate of private vehicle population was reduced from 0.25% to 0%.