Paris Agreement targets
Singapore updated its NDC in March 2020, formalising its first NDC intensity target in absolute terms, as 65 MtCO2e in 2030 (Singapore government, 2020). Its first NDC target was a reduction of emissions intensity of GDP by 36% below 2005 levels (0.176 gCO2e/SGD as specified in the NDC) by 2030 and stabilising emissions, aiming for them to peak around 65 MtCO2e in 2030 (Singapore Government, 2015). The NDC update reframes the commitment from an emissions intensity target to an absolute target and is a good structural change, but does not result in a stronger target compared to the first NDC.
Other updates to the target include using updated IPCC reporting guidelines with more recent IPCC estimates to calculate emissions and improved transparency by including NF3 in the coverage of gases.
Given the stabilisation levels in the first NDC are reported in accordance with the IPCC Second Assessment Report Global Warming Potentials (SAR GWP), and the stabilisation levels in the Updated NDC are reported in accordance with the IPCC Fifth Assessment Global Warming Potentials (AR5 GWP), the Climate Action Tracker estimated the equivalent stabilisations levels in Fourth Assessment Global Warming Potentials (AR4 GWP) to allow for country comparison across Climate Action Tracker country assessments. The Climate Action Tracker update of GWPs in the NDC has not resulted in a difference in Singapore’s level of ambition.
The implicit assumptions about GDP in 2030 vary between the first NDC and the updated NDC. The targets are both intended to lead to a 36% reduction in emissions intensity in 2005 levels. However, as the updated NDC differs in terms of moving to AR5 GWP and including NF3 as an additional gas, GDP assumptions must have changed for the targets to both lead to a 36% reduction, highlighting how unclear and problematic emissions intensity targets can be.
Setting an absolute target is a positive first step. An absolute target provides transparency by setting a concrete level of emissions that will be reached, and does not depend on fluid factors such as GDP. However, this does not replace the need for Singapore to make a more ambitious climate target, substantially scale up climate action, and reduce absolute GHG emissions in the medium term.
The CAT rates Singapore's target as "Critically insufficient" when rated against both modelled domestic pathways ("domestic target") and its fair share contribution ("fair share target"). Singapore has not adopted a conditional target or an international element in its NDC, so we rate its unconditional target against the two rating frameworks.
The CAT rates Singapore's target as "Critically insufficient" when rated against modelled domestic pathways. The “Critically insufficient” rating indicates that Singapore’s domestic target in 2030 reflects minimal to no action and is not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. If all countries were to follow Singapore’s approach, warming would exceed 4°C.
The CAT rates Singapore's target as "Critically insufficient" when rated against its fair share contribution. The “Critically insufficient” rating indicates that Singapore’s fair share target in 2030 reflects minimal to no action and is not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. Singapore’s target is not in line with any interpretation of a fair approach to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. If all countries were to follow Singapore’s approach, warming would exceed 4°C.
Further information on how the CAT rates countries (against modelled pathways and fair share) can be found here.
Last NDC update
Singapore has submitted an updated NDC, but failed to increase ambition
Singapore’s NDC update has improved the nature of its target (moving from emissions intensity to an absolute cap), and the methodology (by moving to more recent IPCC guidelines for reporting and improving gas coverage) but does not limit emissions growth beyond what it has already committed to under its first NDC. While this is an improvement in clarity and transparency, it is not an enhanced NDC.
Maintaining the same level of an emissions cap breaks the Paris Agreement’s requirement that each successive NDC should present a progression beyond the current one. Singapore should scale up its climate action and re-submit its NDC target.
Net zero and other long-term target(s)
Singapore’s Long-Term Strategy includes the goal of reaching climate neutrality no later than 2060 (National Climate Change Secretariat, 2020). The strategy is based on public consultations in mid-2019 (National Climate Change Secretariat, 2019). The LEDS plans to halve emissions from the 2030 peak by 2050, calculated at 32 MtCO2e by 2050 (in AR4 GWP values, reported as 33 MtCO2e in AR5 GWP values), and reach net-zero emissions “as soon as is viable” in the second half of the century (National Climate Change Secretariat, 2020).
The CAT’s assessment of this target will follow later this year.
Under the Copenhagen agreement, Singapore committed to reduce its emissions by 7–11% below business-as-usual (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.