Speech at the Committee of Supply Debate by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources
Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Committee of Supply Debate, 4 March 2020
1 The UN has rightfully identified climate change as the defining issue of our time. For Singapore, like many small nations, climate change is an existential challenge. We feel its effects today, such as in rising temperatures and frequent extreme weather events. Even the seasonality of Singapore’s rainy and dry months is now difficult to predict!
2 Scientists in the Centre for Climate Research Singapore have projected that by 2100, the mean sea level around Singapore may rise by up to one metre. Coupled with the frequent and heavy storms also brought about by climate change, low lying areas of Singapore, such as the East Coast may experience more flooding. For all countries, climate change also threatens access to essential resources such as water, food and energy. These affect the security of our nation too.
3 With these said, our history of overcoming challenges gives me the confidence that we need not despair when facing climate change. Just as we have done before, we will create innovative solutions for the hardest challenge, putting Singapore in the unique position we enjoy today. This is Singapore’s DNA.
WORKING TOGETHER FOR A CLIMATE RESILIENT SINGAPORE
4 Today, I will update on our plans in three key areas to address the challenges of climate change — first, mitigation strategies to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs); second, adaptation plans; and third, how we can work together, in our communities and as a nation, to collectively realise a more sustainable Singapore.
5 With your permission, Mr Chairman, may I request the clerks to distribute a document to Members?
MITIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE
6 First, on mitigation. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement are pivotal multilateral agreements to address the global challenge of climate change. It has spurred many countries, including those who are large emitters, to enact laws and transform their economies to meet their carbon commitments. It is therefore in the interest of small island states like Singapore, to support this multilateral framework of cooperation.
7 For this framework to stand, every country, large or small, must do its share to reduce GHG emissions. Singapore will also do our part. Last Friday, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean announced that Singapore will enhance our 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement later this year. We will also submit our Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy, which aspires to halve emissions from our peak to 33 MtCO2e by 2050, with a view to achieve net zero emissions as soon as viable in the second half of the century.
8 Halving our emissions, even thirty years from now, is an ambitious target, because Singapore is naturally constrained in alternative energy — this is an attribute recognised even by the UNFCCC. But we will continue to raise our ambitions to limit and reduce carbon emissions over the long term, knowing well enough that it requires transformational change.
9 We are already ahead of the pack by implementing the carbon tax last year — the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. This is a clear signal to the whole of industry that Singapore is moving towards a low-carbon economy, as we give no exemption. Mr Louis Ng and Mr Daniel Goh asked about the carbon tax and emissions reporting. The carbon tax is meant to provide an economy-wide price signal. Hence, only aggregated information will be released. To achieve emissions reductions, rather than scrutinising individual companies, it would be more useful to know which sectors we should concentrate on. The release of individual data could also be commercially sensitive.
Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
10 What are the major moves that my Ministry will introduce to further reduce our GHG emissions? First, we will implement a package of comprehensive measures to reduce the emission of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). As Dr Chia Shi-Lu and Mr Louis Ng have pointed out, HFCs can be found as refrigerants in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, and could leak during installation, maintenance and disposal. Some forms of HFCs trap a much larger amount of heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
11 Later this year, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will launch a training course to train and certify technicians to handle refrigerants properly. From next year, NEA will mandate the proper recovery, reclamation and destruction of spent refrigerants.
12 With your permission, Mr Chairman, may I display some slides on the screens?
13 NEA will also introduce a voluntary climate-friendly label to help households identify refrigerators and air-conditioners that use alternative refrigerants with lower global warming potential.
14 In addition, NEA will launch a new grant to support companies who want to make an early switch to more climate-friendly commercial water-cooled chillers. From 2022, we intend to restrict the supply of commercial water-cooled chillers and household refrigerators and air-conditioners that use HFCs with high global warming potential.
15 To Mr Louis Ng’s question, MEWR will initiate a review on our ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol later this year.
Improve Industry’s Energy Efficiency
16 Besides HFCs, improving energy efficiency will have a major impact on emissions reduction. Mr Dennis Tan asked about our progress. We have set an ambitious target to improve our industrial energy efficiency to one to two per cent every year. Our industries are on track to meet this target, and we will continue to improve our energy efficiency rate. Last year, NEA announced the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for industrial-chilled water cooling system. MEES will reduce energy consumption in industrial facilities by at least 245 GWh annually, equivalent to taking more than 20,000 cars off the road. From 2021, energy-intensive companies, including oil-refining companies, will be required to establish facility-wide energy management systems and conduct energy efficiency opportunities assessments.
Energy Self-Sufficiency for MEWR
17 In MEWR we also live by our energy efficiency creed. Let me illustrate this.
18 We are on track to complete the development of Tuas Nexus by 2027. The Tuas Nexus carries out co-digestion of food waste and used water sludge to generate up to three times more biogas than conventional sludge treatment processes. This biogas will be used to generate electricity to power the plant, and excess electricity will be exported back into the grid.
19 In addition, we will ramp up the generation of solar energy within MEWR. Mr Louis Ng asked if we can deploy more solar panels on reservoirs. This year, PUB will deploy two 1.5 MWp floating solar PV systems at Bedok and Lower Seletar Reservoirs. Next year, PUB will deploy the world’s largest single floating solar PV system of 60MWp at Tengeh Reservoir. The power generated from this system alone is sufficient to meet the energy of all our water treatment plants at local reservoirs. With this, Singapore’s waterworks will be one of the few in the world to be 100 per cent green. PUB is also making strides towards improving the energy efficiency of NEWater and desalinated water production.
20 Mr Louis Ng also asked if the Government can provide consumers with rebates for using solar energy. Subsidies, such as rebates, distort the energy markets. Pricing energy right will encourage the growth of renewable energy in a commercially viable manner and incentivise consumers to use electricity efficiently, avoiding wasteful consumption. Instead of rebates, the Government has streamlined regulations and funded research to support higher deployment of solar.
21 My Ministry also intends to be exemplary in optimising the water-energy-waste nexus. We will set out to generate sufficient energy from waste incineration and solar photovoltaic systems to power all of my Ministry’s needs, especially in the production of water and the projected production of food.
22 In the long run, it is only with ground-breaking technology that we can make huge leaps in climate mitigation. In the horizon are Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage technologies and the use of Hydrogen as an alternative fuel. We will stay abreast of these developments.
Public Service Sustainability Plan
23 Beyond the Ministry, the public sector as a whole is doing more. Mr Louis Ng asked about our efforts. In 2017, we launched the Public Sector Sustainability Plan, which charted out our strategies to reduce electricity and water consumption, and achieve Green Mark standards for 100 per cent of our buildings. Ministries and agencies are working hard, and are on track to meet our 2020 targets. For example, all air-conditioned Government premises should maintain indoor temperatures of 24oC or higher where feasible. All Ministries have also taken the climate action pledge and committed to reducing their plastic, water and electricity consumption.
24 We are reviewing how to bring our plan to the next level. DPM also announced our vision for all vehicles to run on cleaner energy by 2040. The Government will take the lead. From 2023, all new vehicle purchases for Government-owned fleets will be cleaner and greener where feasible. MINDEF for example will replace 400 administrative vehicles with hybrids and later with electric ones when charging infrastructure is ready in 2040. Together, with net-zero buildings, food-waste management our Army is “Green” in more than their uniforms!
25 These are but a few examples of how the UN Climate Change Framework is shaping climate conscious behaviours and decisions. We are also reviewing other measures such as the better management of our carbon emissions and the use of disposables. More details will be announced later this year.
26 Public transport generates up to three times less carbon dioxide than private transport. Hence, our approach is to encourage public transport and green public transport as far as possible. The Land Transport Master Plan 2040 by the Ministry of Transport supports this. This is how Singapore moves to cut GHG emissions — simply drive less.
27 If driving less is, somehow, not an option, motorists can still practise sustainable consumption by choosing cleaner vehicles that emit less GHG and harmful pollutants. Mr Louis Ng asked about the Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES). The VES implemented in 2018 has seen positive results and we have since extended the VES until end-2020. This will complement the enhanced incentives and infrastructure to promote the use of electric vehicles announced at Budget. We aim to refine VES further, taking into account its impact on motorists’ purchasing decisions and advancements in technology.
28 The transport of goods and services is a major economic activity in Singapore. Commercial vehicles, especially Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs), are key emission sources and pollute our air due to their high mileage and reliance on diesel.
29 To support the shift to cleaner commercial vehicles, we will introduce a new Commercial Vehicle Emissions Scheme (CVES) for new LGVs, which form the largest proportion of commercial vehicles. Under the new CVES, the cleanest LGVs will receive a $30,000 incentive, while the most polluting LGVs will incur a $10,000 surcharge. In terms of Total Cost of Ownership, fleet owners will enjoy overall savings when they purchase EVs as opposed to petrol vehicles, and even greater savings as compared to diesel vehicles.
30 To complement the CVES, we will enhance the Early Turnover Scheme (ETS) from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2023, including expanding the scheme to cover Euro 4 diesel commercial vehicles. The existing ETS will be extended until 31 March 2021.
ADAPTING TO THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
31 I have outlined our climate mitigation efforts. Let me now talk about how we will adapt to climate change.
32 Climate change will bring about more frequent and intense storms, which may result in major flooding, especially in low-lying parts of Singapore. Mr Desmond Choo asked about PUB’s plans to mitigate inland floods.
33 Since 2011, PUB has spent almost $2 billion on drainage works, including major projects like the Bukit Timah Diversion Canal and Stamford Detention Tank. We will invest another $190 million, with six projects commencing this year, including the construction of a detention tank underneath Syed Alwi Road, which will enhance flood protection in the Little India area. Our investments will be complemented with developments in technology, such as short-range radars, to better predict and manage heavier rainfall.
34 These efforts, however, will not be sufficient. With climate change, sea levels will rise faster than its natural cycle, and along with heavy rains, will overwhelm drainage systems. Ms Cheng Li Hui and Mr Desmond Choo asked about our whole-of-nation strategy to coordinate coastal protection efforts. I am pleased to announce that PUB will assume the role of the national Coastal Protection Agency from April. With this new responsibility, one agency – PUB – will study both coastal and inland flooding holistically and develop models to guide our flood protection response.
35 The investments to undertake coastal and flood protection could cost $100 billion over the next 50 to 100 years. As announced by DPM in the Budget speech, a Coastal and Flood Protection Fund will be set up within PUB, with an initial funding of $5 billion. The fund will be used in a fiscally sustainable manner to support the substantial capital outlay. Mr Mohamed Irshad asked about the immediate investments that will be made. Our near-term efforts will focus on studying our coastal areas to ascertain the type, feasibility and extent of measures required. We will phase efforts and start with the City to East Coast stretch and Jurong Island. The funds will also be used to expand and improve our drainage infrastructure to improve flood resilience.
36 As we embark on coastal protection, we will also identify new opportunities for urban development. For instance, we could reclaim a series of islands offshore, and even connect these islands up by building barrages to create community spaces for Singaporeans, and contribute to water resilience. PUB will partner various stakeholders to explore these possibilities.
37 Mr Dennis Tan highlighted the importance of preserving and building our carbon sinks. We will preserve our green carbon sinks and identify nature-based solutions. For example, planting mangroves can both stabilise our coastline by preventing erosion, while preserving our green lungs and supporting biodiversity. Minister Desmond Lee will elaborate in his speech on Singapore’s greening efforts.
38 Adaptation efforts also involve securing our water supply. Singapore has developed a robust and diversified supply of water, as a result of our early and consistent investments in water infrastructure and research. Along with local catchment and imported water, we will continue to augment our water supply with weather-resilient sources, namely NEWater and desalinated water.
39 With the completion of Marina East and Jurong Island desalination plants this year, we will have five desalination plants. Our NEWater production capacity will also increase over the next five years, with the expansion of the Changi NEWater factory and development of Tuas Nexus.
40 Good water demand management is equally important in complementing efforts in water supply. PUB’s water conservation efforts have shown encouraging results, with household water consumption decreasing to 141 litres from 148 litres/person/day in three years. PUB will begin the deployment of 300,000 smart meters next year, as part of efforts to reduce water consumption further to 130 litres/person/day by 2030.
41 To inspire Singaporeans to continue efforts in water conservation, I am happy to launch the 2020 water conservation campaign. Today, PUB will kick off with a new video to remind Singaporeans of how far we have come in our water story. I felt touched and proud of our water story when I previewed the video. So will you, when you watch it tonight. It will encourage us, all Singaporeans, not to take our clean drinking water for granted.
42 Besides rising sea levels and water resilience, Mr Amrin Amin, Mr Liang Eng Hwa, Dr Chia Shi Lu and Mr Desmond Choo have rightfully pointed out that warmer temperatures caused by climate change can also affect the everyday lives of Singaporeans, because it leads to an increasing mosquito population! In fact, warmer temperature is one of the factors that led to the surge in dengue cases last year.
43 Project Wolbachia is a tool which NEA is piloting to manage the mosquito population. Mr Louis Ng conveyed feedback that the initial surge of male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes released under Project Wolbachia causes discomfort to residents. I hope to reassure residents that these male mosquitoes do not bite or transmit diseases, and ask residents to be patient and bear with the initial surge.
44 I am pleased to say that the Project Wolbachia trials have achieved up to 90 per cent suppression of the Aedes aegypti population within the Yishun and Tampines study sites. We are considering the expansion of Project Wolbachia to more neighbourhoods, in consultation with NEA’s Dengue Expert Advisory Panel. To do this, NEA has set up a hi-tech mosquito farm which optimises mosquito production, the sorting of male mosquitoes from females, and the transportation of mosquitoes for release. We are scaling up the facility’s production to five million male mosquitoes a week, over the next few years, to battle dengue. This is a new and important means to future-proof ourselves against the faster breeding of mosquitoes, as a result of the higher temperatures brought by climate change.
WRITING THE SINGAPORE FOOD STORY
45 Just as NEA is establishing mosquito farms, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) is transforming food farms. Food, like water, is a resource that can be disrupted by climate change. In Asia alone, we expect an additional 250 million mouths to feed by 2030. Yet, the amount of arable land could fall by five per cent due to climate change and environmental degradation. Singapore, which currently imports more than 90 per cent of our food, will be vulnerable. In the face of these changes, we have developed three food baskets to ensure our food security by diversifying food sources, growing food overseas and growing local. We have designated 2020 as the Year of Singapore Food Story to focus our national effort and attention.
46 Mr Gan Thiam Poh asked about the Government’s success in food source diversification and its role in mitigating price hikes during supply disruptions.
47 Today, Singapore’s food imports come from over 170 countries and regions. This did not come by chance, but is a result of SFA’s continuous efforts. While the Government does our part, we require the industry to also be pro-active in diversifying supply sources to enhance business resiliency. For example, since last year, SFA has introduced requirements for egg importers to adopt plans to mitigate the impact of any supply disruptions.
48 With a well-diversified food supply, Singapore can reduce the impact of food supply shortages and price changes. However, consumers need to be mindful that the price of any particular food item is determined by a combination of factors, including import prices, exchange rates, and profit margins which suppliers can command.
49 Let me elaborate on our plans to produce food locally, enhance food safety, and encourage Singaporeans to support local produce.
PRODUCE FOOD SUSTAINABLY
Optimise Land and Sea Space
50 Ms Cheng Li Hui and Mr Gan Thiam Poh asked about how the Government is helping the local agri-food industry grow. Our vision is to locally produce 30 per cent of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030, from less than 10 per cent today.
51 As a small country with limited space, our land use faces many competing needs. We have dedicated less than one per cent of our land for agriculture today. Within such tight land constraints, the ‘30 by 30’ vision is highly ambitious, especially if we must achieve it within the same one per cent. Yet, having visited some of our new-tech farms, I am optimistic that it is achievable if we invest in an innovative agri-food sector.
52 Since 2017, SFA has been awarding agriculture land, through a competitive land tender basis, to agri-food companies with promising technologies. One such company is Green Harvest a local vegetable farm. The farm uses modern greenhouse growing techniques which mitigates the impact of unfavourable weather conditions. We are helping them to adopt more technology and, with experience, we hope they can produce multiple times more vegetables than average.
53 This year, SFA will study how the larger Lim Chu Kang agriculture area can be planned and redeveloped to enhance our food production. This study will consider feedback from farmers for centralised facilities and services to reduce the cost of food production. The study will also introduce circular economy principles, so that the by-product of one farm can be used as an input for another. SFA will work with farms, including successful tenders in recent land sales exercises, to work towards an exciting vision for Lim Chu Kang.
54 SFA’s plans for Lim Chu Kang will complement the development of the Agri-Food Innovation Park, or AFIP, which we announced last year as a high-tech agri-food cluster in Sungei Kadut. The food production innovations developed in AFIP can scale up in Lim Chu Kang to contribute towards our ‘30 by 30’ vision.
55 SFA will also look to unlock the potential of farming at sea. Last week, I accompanied President Halimah to visit Eco-Ark. Eco-Ark’s CEO Mr Leow Ban Tat, who had decades of experience in marine and off-shore engineering, including in Keppel, applied principles of oil rigs construction to that of a floating fish farm. He worked with his team to conceptualise, design and integrate a floating platform with closed-containment aquaculture technologies that treat influent sea water used to cultivate fish. These technologies mitigate the effects of pollution and algae blooms that threaten both farms and our marine environment. Ideas like this is how we will transform fish farming practices so that they are more productive, sustainable and climate-resilient.
56 Besides the use of technology, SFA will study the expansion of sustainable fish farming where applicable in the deeper southern waters of Singapore. We will ensure that such aquaculture is productive and environmentally responsible, such as shown by Barramundi Asia, Singapore’s first and only deep-sea fish farm. SFA will work with stakeholders to study this.
57 We are supporting different modes of fish farming. Where water quality is good, farms can carry out deep sea farming. Where it isn’t, farms can adopt closed-containment technologies. Where there can be synergies with land-based water and waste systems, land-based aquaculture can be conducted. Like land, every space at sea that can be used for food production, must be judiciously managed.
58 Mr Gan Thiam Poh also asked how the Government is helping local farms remain competitive. Over the years, our economic agencies have been supporting local farms in their overseas expansion. Growing their businesses overseas allow farms to tap on land and manpower, lower production costs, and break into new markets. I encourage our farms to take a leaf from the food manufacturing industry, where companies like Tee Yih Jia Food anchor their expertise locally while expanding operations overseas. Some of our farms, like Apollo, have already done so. These food products produced overseas, while not ‘Made in Singapore’, should be marketed as ‘Made by Singapore’, since they uphold the same reputation for high quality and standards as those produced domestically.
59 To complement these efforts, SFA, Enterprise Singapore and the industry will be developing a Clean & Green Standard for urban farms which harness resource-efficient technologies to produce food in cleaner environments. They will study ways to incorporate information that more people are concerned about, such as the carbon footprint of food. The standard will serve as a mark of quality assurance that our farms can use differentiate their products in the market.
60 Let me move on to incentives and funding. Over the past five years, SFA has committed $38 million from the Agriculture Productivity Fund, or APF, to support more than 100 farms in their productivity- enhancing investments. I am happy to share that the APF will be extended till the end of 2020. Beyond this, we will review how we can expand our support for technology test-bedding, adoption and resource efficiency in our farms.
Facilitate the introduction of alternative proteins and ensure safety for consumption
61 New innovations to produce food more productively and sustainably are also needed. The first research grant call launched by SFA and the A*STAR last December under the $144 million Singapore Food Story R&D Programme, will facilitate this.
62 One theme under this research programme is the production of novel foods, like alternative proteins. Traditional meat production methods are often land and water intensive, and generate high levels of emissions. Today, alternative proteins, such as Impossible and Quorn, are poised to become game-changers. I hope Members will enjoy the alternative protein food items from Tee Yih Jia Food and Empress served at today’s tea break.
63 Ms Cheng Li Hui asked about food safety of novel foods. We will ensure that only novel foods that are safe for consumption are introduced in Singapore. Last year, SFA implemented a new regulatory framework to require companies to seek its approval and undergo a scientific pre-market assessment before placing novel foods in the market. This framework facilitates the sale of alternative proteins in Singapore, while ensuring their safety. Companies, such as local start-up Shiok Meats, who is looking to produce cell-cultured shrimp, will be able to benefit from this framework.
64 To support its assessment of novel food, SFA will establish an international expert working group to provide scientific advice on food safety.
SAFEGUARD FOOD SAFETY
65 Beyond food supply, we must also not forget our fundamental mission, that is to ensure that the food we eat is safe.
66 SFA takes a serious approach towards upholding high food safety and hygiene standards. Since its formation, SFA has conducted more than 5,200 inspections in 2019, and taken more than 1,600 enforcement actions against errant operators.
67 SFA will be introducing new measures to safeguard food safety. Premises which pose higher food safety risks, such as caterers and central kitchens, will be required to install Closed-Circuit Television Cameras. This enables them to monitor food safety performance and provide evidence in the event of food safety allegations. Enhanced measures will also be targeted at businesses that cater to vulnerable groups. Food businesses catering to preschools, kindergartens and nursing homes will be required to maintain food retention samples, which will facilitate investigations during foodborne outbreaks.
68 From 2021, SFA will also introduce a single, unified framework to license and recognise all food establishments. SFA will award a longer licence duration and a higher recognition to food establishments which uphold high food safety and hygiene standards. This way, SFA can re-prioritise resources to focus on checks to ensure compliance with food safety requirements.
69 Mr Louis Ng asked about the introduction of a Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. MEWR is currently working on a legislation to enhance our food safety regime. As part of this, we are looking to introduce a legislation to facilitate food donation. Any legislation will need to strike a balance between facilitating food donation and ensuring food safety. We will be happy to work with Mr Louis Ng.
DRIVING THE SUSTAINABILITY AGENDA WITH SINGAPOREANS
SINGAPOREANS AS AGENTS OF CHANGE
70 Let me conclude my speech by touching on the role of all Singaporeans in taking climate action. As the Government, we are providing leadership in tackling climate change. We do this by enhancing our climate pledge under the Paris Agreement and working with the industry to guide their transformation to a low-carbon economy. While the Government can lead on sustainability, the people must champion its cause.
Support Local Produce
71 For instance, Singaporeans can make conscious climate-friendly choices in our daily essentials, such as food. Locally-produced food is of high quality, incurs less carbon miles, lasts longer and tastes good! By eating local, Singaporeans are making an environmentally sustainable choice.
72 In the process, we support our farmers by choosing food that is grown in Singapore. Since 2017, SFA has partnered SAFEF to organise Farmers’ Markets to raise awareness of local produce. Last month, I unveiled a new logo which Singapore farmers can soon use to help Singaporeans identify local produce.
73 The community can also support local production by participating in community farming projects. For example, nearly 80 per cent of NParks’ Community-in-Bloom gardens grow edibles. There is also the potential for companies and the community to engage in commercial urban farming that involves the community. Since the launch of a pilot rooftop farm, Citiponics in Ang Mo Kio, interest from the public towards urban farming in community spaces has grown. We will provide more opportunities for urban rooftop farming. In the coming months, SFA will tender 16 rooftop spaces on HDB Multi-Storey Car Parks across the island, totalling over 30,000 square metres. As we grow our agri-sector, let’s get involved in growing food in our own backyards.
Enable Climate-Friendly Choices
74 Now, let us talk about electrical appliances. Take refrigerators. They are amongst the top three highest energy-consuming household appliances today. However, many households continue to purchase one to two-ticks refrigerators, partly due to the higher upfront costs of energy efficient models, without considering the savings from electricity consumption over the long term. Similarly, showering takes up a significant proportion of water consumption, yet many households are choosing the less water-efficient fittings.
75 To help households living in one to three room HDB flats invest in energy and water efficient models, the Government will introduce a $24.8 million Climate-Friendly Household Package. These households will receive a once-off $150 voucher to purchase refrigerator models approved by NEA that have three ticks and above. Not only will this help fight climate change, households can also benefit from electricity cost savings of up to $60 annually. We will also extend the ‘Switch and Save – Use LED’ programme launched in 2018 to all three-room HDB flats. In addition, we will give all one to three room HDB households a $50 voucher to offset the cost of changing their shower fittings to more water-efficient three-tick models.
76 If all eligible households make the switch, we can collectively reduce emissions equivalent to taking around 12,600 cars off the road, and save up to 400 million gallons of water annually!
Support Passionate Youths and Citizens
77 Next, let me focus on the ground-up efforts of our youths and citizens to address climate change. I commend our youths who are channelling their passions into positive change for the environment. During the Year of Climate Action in 2018, more than two climate-related activities per day were conducted, and youths played a big part in them. Recently, a group of 50 youths participated in the Environmental Track of the Youth Action Challenge organised by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, submitting projects ranging from waste reduction to green technologies. We will work together with these youths to deliver some of these ideas into reality.
78 To empower our youths with knowledge and experience on sustainability, my Ministry is working with MOE and the National Youth Council. We want to introduce more sustainability programmes in schools and community facilities. Even OBS@Coney will be designed to be an eco-experience for our youths to learn and enjoy.
79 The Government will work with schools to introduce initiatives which will integrate green infrastructure, sustainability programmes, and curriculum design to inculcate positive environmental values in our youths, like ones done in Mee Toh School.
80 Another group of Singaporeans whose efforts I would like to recognise are those that are willing to share their experiences and ideas on sustainability. Last year, my Ministry convened our first Citizens’ Workgroup on recycling, where 48 participants joined us on a month-long journey of co-creation. We will be setting up two more Citizens’ Workgroups this year focusing on more issues that Singaporeans care about. One Workgroup will start the conversation on how we can increase demand for local produce. I invite interested members of the public to visit our website at foodstory.sg to find out more about the Workgroup and sign up for it. Another Workgroup on reducing the excessive use of disposables will also be set up. As we have done with the recycling workgroup, we will carefully consider and work with these workgroups to realise some of their recommendations.
81 It is our aspiration for Singapore, as a nation, to practise sustainable development and put sustainability at the centre of the way we live, work and play. At Budget, DPM spoke about the Ministry of National Development’s Green Towns Programme, which injects sustainability into the infrastructure of our HDB Towns. Beyond the look and feel of our housing estates, MEWR will introduce initiatives that will encourage Singaporeans to live and breathe sustainability. Let me elaborate.
82 We have come far in the last twenty years, since the development of Punggol as Singapore’s first Eco Town. We have a vision to transform all HDB towns into Eco Towns.
83 First, as we rejuvenate neighbourhoods, we will create more sustainable community touchpoints. We will build sustainable hawker centres that strive towards zero waste. Second, we will introduce community-based programmes that foster sustainability initiatives on the ground. Third, we will develop indicators for towns to track their progress and benchmark against national sustainability targets in carbon, energy, water, and recycling. This will drive home the message that the effort of each and every Singaporean counts.
84 I am happy that Tampines, Choa Chu Kang and Nee Soon Towns are coming on board to become Singapore’s first Eco Towns. Let me share some initial efforts.
85 In Tampines, we are piloting new sustainability projects which can be replicated in other towns. The first project, ‘Sustainability @ Tampines Park’, will be Singapore’s first community-based circular ecosystem for food production. Residents from 12 HDB blocks will be segregating food waste generated in their homes, to be fed to black soldier fly larvae. The larvae will produce fertiliser for a new vertical vegetable farm, and the larvae will be fed to Tilapias cultivated in the Tampines Park pond. Not only will this project reduce food waste, it will simultaneously strengthen the community’s food resilience!
86 The second project in a different part of Tampines is the introduction of ‘Eco Boards’. Eco Boards are low-energy digital boards that provide block-level information on water and energy use to residents. Together with Singapore Power and Temasek, we plan to build Eco Boards in several sites across Tampines Town. These Eco Boards will enhance the residents’ awareness of their resource usage, and illustrate the impact of green infrastructure such as solar panels.
87 More details on the three Eco Towns will be announced over the coming months. I believe that the success of these Eco Towns will inspire other towns to begin their own journey of transformation towards sustainability.
88 To build our sustainable Singapore together with Singaporeans, DPM announced at Budget the establishment of a Singapore Eco Fund. Mr Mohamed Irshad and Mr Gan Thiam Poh asked for details of this fund. We are happy to announce that the $50 million SG Eco Fund will be made available later this year to the people, private and public sector, to support the co-creation of a sustainable Singapore. We welcome project proposals which involve the community, and can deliver measurable impacts on our sustainability goals. My Ministry will also set up an SG Eco Office to co-ordinate sustainability projects across Singapore.
89 Let me conclude. When we started our journey as a nation, our founding fathers gave us a vision of being the cleanest and greenest city in Southeast Asia. Even for this we were inspired to do it together. Mr Lee Kuan Yew said in 1968 at the launch of the inaugural Keep Singapore Clean Campaign: “For only a people with high social and educational standards can maintain a clean and green city.” And he went on to say: “Only a people proud of their community performance, feeling for the well-being of their fellow citizens, can keep up high personal and public standards of hygiene.” We are now on our journey towards a sustainable and climate friendly Singapore. It is a journey that we can only make, together. Prime Minister at a tree-planting event in 2014 said: “But we also have to do more than just plant trees. We also have to make the whole of the environment sustainable, friendly to people, and also for Singaporeans to be friendly to the environment.” It is for this reason that the Government will place sustainability at the core of everything we do. However, only by living and practising sustainability together can we mitigate the impacts of climate change and secure the resources needed to take Singapore into the future. Let us all play our part and work together, as one people, to ensure that Singapore remains a liveable home for our future generations.
90 Mr Chairman, I will now hand over to Senior Minister of State Dr Amy Khor to address other strategies that will make Singapore a clean, sustainable and liveable home.