Speech by Minister for Transport, Mr S Iswaran at the Committee of Supply Joint Segment on Singapore Green Plan 2030

08 Mar 2022In Parliament
1.     Mr Chairman, the Singapore Green Plan articulates our national climate ambitions, as well as our commitment to climate action and achieving net zero emissions. 

2.     Climate change is a challenge of the global commons. The cost of solutions will be incurred by individuals, enterprises and economies; while the benefits will take time and accrue to the global community. But we must act now, individually and collectively, by making responsible choices and trade-offs to avert a tragedy of the commons and prevent grave harm to our environment. 

Accelerating the Green Movement for Our Land Transport System 

3.     Our land transport system is an important part of this endeavour. It is our third largest source of emissions, accounting for 15 per cent of national emissions today. 

4.     Over the decades, we have taken significant steps to build an efficient and sustainable transport system. We have progressively introduced policies on car ownership and usage, invested heavily in public transport and active mobility, and promoted the transition to cleaner-energy vehicles. 

5.     As a result of these moves and other changes, I am happy to share with Members that our land transport carbon emissions peaked at 7.7 million tonnes in 2016. While this is a significant inflection, we must do more to work towards net zero emissions, as stated by SM Teo Chee Hean. 

6.     Hence, aligned with our national effort, we aim to reduce land transport emissions by 80% by or around mid-century, from the peak in 2016. This is a reduction in absolute emissions. It is an ambitious goal that will require policy moves, new technologies, and behavioural shifts across our land transport system. Along with the decarbonisation of the power grid, electrification of vehicles is a key initiative that will have a material impact. I would like to elaborate on our moves in that regard.

Accelerating EV Adoption 

7.     Globally, EV technology continues to advance, and sales of electric cars have gained momentum. In Singapore, new electric car registrations increased 18-fold from 100 in 2020 to 1,800 in 2021, accounting for almost 4 per cent of all new car registrations. 

8.     This is a promising indicator of the impact of our measures, such as the EV Early Adoption Incentive, or EEAI, for cars, which has been highlighted by Mr Saktiandi Supaat, Mr Gan Thiam Poh and Mr Louis Chua.  We will monitor developments and assess the need for similar measures in other vehicle segments, like electric motorcycles.  

9.     To sustain the momentum of our EV transition, we will step up our efforts in three key areas. 

(a) Chargers

10.    First, charging infrastructure. Several Members have highlighted the need for charging infrastructure to keep pace with, if not be ahead of, EV adoption. Range anxiety is a commonly cited impediment. In practice, the average driver in Singapore may need to fully charge her electric car only once every five to seven days, given that most have a range of at least 300 kilometres. Nevertheless, this concern over nascent technology is understandable. To take anxiety out of range, chargers must be widely available. 

11.    Last year, MOT shared plans to deploy 60,000 charging points across public and private carparks by 2030. Since then, LTA has undertaken a major survey of the switchrooms and substations serving residential carparks across the island, to assess the additional electrical capacity needed to support EV charging. 

12.    This evaluation has given us the confidence to accelerate the implementation of our plans. We will make every HDB town EV-Ready by 2025.

a.     To achieve this, we will install charging points in nearly 2,000 HDB carparks over the next three to four years. They will mostly provide low-powered, overnight charging, which would meet the needs of car owners, and minimise the load on the electrical grid. 

b.     There will be at least three charging points per carpark, and more where there is demand and adequate electrical capacity. 

c.     LTA will launch the large-scale tender for charging points at HDB carparks in the first half of this year. 

13.    We have also made progress in the deployment of chargers at other premises. Mr Ang Wei Neng’s question was regarding the pattern of ownership. More than 80 per cent of electric car users live in private residences today, many in condominiums and private apartments. To incentivise non-landed private residences to install chargers in their carparks, we introduced the EV Common Charger Grant last July. So far, 12 developments have used this grant, and at least 20 others are in the pipelines. Their applications are being processed and I would like to encourage more MCSTs to benefit from this scheme. 

(b) Power infrastructure upgrades

14.    Our second move is to upgrade the supporting electrical infrastructure. Consumer switchrooms and substations will have to be expanded to support increasing use of the residential charging network. 

15.    After industry consultation and feedback, we have decided that the Government will undertake this long-term infrastructure programme. The National EV Centre at LTA will take the lead, working with other government agencies like EMA and HDB. Upgrades will commence over the next few years and continue well into the 2030s.  

16.    Ms Yeo Wan Ling asked about financing. LTA will be issuing green bonds to fund these infrastructure upgrades. The bond repayment obligations will be met through a tariff on EV charging operators and users, which will be phased in at a later stage.

(c) Policies, regulations, and standards  

17.    The third thrust of our EV masterplan is to implement policies and regulations that support adoption and ensure safety. I agree with Prof Koh Lian Pin that robust regulations and standards are necessary to ensure a reliable and safe EV charging ecosystem.  

18.    To that end, LTA has worked closely with the industry on revisions to Technical Reference 25, or TR25, which is our national EV charging standard.

a.     The revised TR25 will preserve public safety while easing compliance and maintenance obligations for owners of EV chargers. It will also allow for new technologies, such as battery-swapping for electric motorcycles, and very high-powered charging of up to 500kW.

b.     Mr Saktiandi Supaat and Mr Gan Thiam Poh have asked about our approach to such technologies. As they are still relatively nascent, we will focus on safety regulations, while monitoring industry and technology developments to assess their applicability to our overall charging network. 

19.    To lay the foundation for a new regulatory framework, we will introduce legislation to regulate EV charging. 

a.     This will cover the approval and registration of EV chargers, and the licensing of EV charging operators. It will also mandate the provision of charging infrastructure in new buildings and major redevelopments. 

b.     There will be a public consultation on the proposed legislation later this year.

20.    We have also reviewed our vehicle policies to ensure they are relevant for an EV-future. With the changes over the last two years, the road tax for mass market electric cars is now comparable to that of equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. 

21.    Several Members, in this debate and before, have suggested using pricing and other incentives to increase the attractiveness of EVs vis-à-vis ICE cars. We earlier introduced the EV Early Adoption Incentive to reduce the gap in upfront costs. However, the cost differential remains for certain mass market EVs because they fall within Category B COEs along with bigger ICE cars. One reason for this is the Maximum Power Output (MPO) criterion.

22.    We introduced the criterion of 97kW in 2013, in addition to an engine capacity of 1,600cc or less, for Category A cars. That was to address the market trend then, when many luxury petrol cars with smaller but turbo-charged engines could draw on Category A COEs. Introducing the 97kW MPO threshold shifted these turbo-charged luxury cars into Category B. 

23.    However, mass-market electric cars in international markets tend to have a Maximum Power Output of 110kW or lower. Locally, more mass-market electric vehicle models with an MPO above 97kW have been introduced in the last year. 

24.    Mr Saktiandi Supaat would be pleased that MOT has reviewed the MPO threshold between Category A and B COEs for electric cars. We will be increasing the Category A MPO threshold for electric cars from 97kW to 110kW.  Based on the EV models approved by LTA for use so far, this move will double the number of models that fall within Category A from 10 to 20, including models like the Hyundai Ioniq that Mr Louis Chua mentioned in his speech. This change will apply to electric cars registered using COEs obtained from the next COE quarter in May 2022. 

Greening Across More Vehicle Segments 

25.    Mr Chairman, the EV transition also applies to other vehicle segments. Prof Koh Lian Pin and Mr Gan Thiam Poh asked about the plans for the public transport and point-to-point (P2P) fleets.

P2P sector 

26.    The P2P sector is key to emissions reduction as taxis and private hire cars clock a much higher daily mileage compared to the average private vehicle.

a.     Our taxi operators have already announced some plans. ComfortDelgro will roll out up to 400 electric taxis, or e-taxis, in 2022, while Strides has committed to a fully electric fleet by 2026. 

b.     To support these initiatives and higher ambitions, the Government will extend the statutory lifespan of e-taxis to ten years, up from the current eight years. 

i.     As EV batteries for e-taxis may need to be replaced around the 5-year mark, this extension will enable taxi operators to optimise their investments, and price e-taxi rentals competitively.

c.     In turn, our taxi operators have committed that at least half of our taxis will be electric by 2030. This is a significant move, given our total taxi fleet of around 15,000 today. 

d.    Among private hire cars, 50 per cent of GrabRentals’ fleet will also go electric by 2030. LTA will continue working closely with private hire car operators to increase EV adoption.

Public transport

27.    We will make a similar concerted push for our public bus fleet. 

a.     We aim for half of our public buses to be electric by 2030. This means an almost 50-fold increase from the 60 electric buses today, to about 3,000 by 2030.

b.     To achieve this, bus buys from now till 2030 will primarily be electric. For a start, LTA will replace over 400 diesel buses with electric buses by 2025.

28.    To further green our public transport infrastructure, LTA will call a tender later this month to deploy more solar panels, at locations like rail and bus depots, the upcoming Integrated Train Testing Centre, covered linkways and pedestrian overhead bridges. This will reduce both emissions and energy costs. 

Commercial vehicles

29.    Goods vehicles and private buses are also key to our effort as they contribute the bulk of our remaining emissions. 

30.    As Mr Dennis Tan noted, last year, MSE implemented the Commercial Vehicle Emissions Scheme and enhanced the Early Turnover Scheme to encourage the adoption of cleaner-energy light goods vehicles. However, for the heavier goods vehicles, there are fewer viable cleaner-energy solutions currently available. 

31.    We will work closely with industry partners to track technology advancements in this space with a view towards early adoption of viable solutions for heavier goods vehicles. 

Playing Our Part in the Drive Towards Sustainability

32.    Mr Chairman, in summary: 

1.     We are taking decisive action to reduce land transport emissions by 80 per cent by or around mid-century; 

ii.    We will make every HDB town EV-Ready by 2025; 

iii.   We will support EV adoption with adjustments to our COE Category A MPO threshold, upgraded electrical infrastructure and a robust regulatory framework for EV charging; and 

iv.    We will ensure half our public buses and taxi fleets are electric by 2030. 

33.    But beyond these efforts, the success of this green endeavour ultimately rests with each one of us, and the commuting decisions we make every day. 

a.     Based on LTA’s estimates, compared to driving an internal combustion engine car:

i.     Switching to an electric car halves our carbon footprint. 

ii.    Taking an electric bus reduces our carbon footprint by 70 per cent. 

iii.   Taking the MRT reduces our carbon footprint by close to 90 per cent. 

iv.    And if we walk or cycle, the carbon footprint is practically zero. 

b.     So, we can make a difference with our choices.  

c.     At the MOT COS debate, we will share more about our plans to make all these options more accessible – by expanding the rail network, repurposing our roads, and building more cycling paths. 

34.    Our informed individual choices will have an indelible and enduring impact on our carbon footprint, our environment, and our future. Together, we can make the vision of the Singapore Green Plan a reality. 

35.    Thank you. 

You may also like