Public sector sets earlier targets to bring down carbon emissions

It will raise solar energy use and lower water, energy usage five years ahead of rest of nation

The public sector will ramp up its sustainability efforts - by increasing solar energy use and slashing water and energy consumption - to start lowering carbon emissions five years ahead of the rest of the nation.

By 2030, the public sector will raise its use of solar energy to 1.5 gigawatt-peak (GWp), equivalent to powering more than 260,000 households a year. This will account for three-quarters of the nation's solar target of 2 GWp by 2030.

To achieve this, solar panels will be installed, where feasible, on all public sector premises.

In addition, government cars will run on cleaner energy by 2035, five years ahead of the national goal of 2040. From 2023, new government cars must have zero exhaust emissions.

Announcing the goals yesterday, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu outlined how the Government will take the lead in low-carbon efforts under an initiative called GreenGov.SG.

She had announced in Parliament in March that the public sector would reach maximum emissions around 2025 and would then begin bringing them down, five years earlier than the rest of the country would do so.

Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, Singapore aims to peak its emissions at 65 million tonnes by about 2030, halve that amount to 33 million tonnes by 2050, and achieve net-zero emissions in the second half of this century.

Singapore generated 52.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2017 and contributes about 0.1 per cent of global emissions.

Speaking at an environment forum yesterday, Ms Fu said the public sector will set "challenging goals" for energy, water and waste reduction by 2030.

Energy and water use will be reduced by 10 per cent from the past three years' average. The amount of waste disposed of will be slashed by 30 per cent, from what will be generated next year.

"These targets will apply to the whole spectrum of public sector operations, and ensure sustainability is embedded at the core of public sector functions," said Ms Fu.

The GreenGov.SG initiative is part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 - a road map with sustainability targets that aims to help the country reach net zero emissions as soon as this is viable.

With 1,600 facilities and buildings covered, the initiative will include waste-to-energy plants, public transport infrastructure and hawker centres, on top of government offices and schools.

The targets for the public sector to bring down carbon emissions are just one part of a comprehensive public sector approach to sustainability.

The second pillar is to ensure government agencies purchase products that meet high efficiency and sustainability standards while exposing schools and the public to sustainable practices.

"As a major buyer of goods and services, the public sector will influence our service providers and suppliers to be more sustainable, and encourage our companies to grow their capabilities to thrive in the low-carbon global economy," said Ms Fu.

Ms Fu said that sustainability features will be a part of community spaces as well. For instance, Senja estate will have a sustainable hawker centre featuring food waste digesters, rainwater harvesting and solar panels.