Keynote Address by Minister for Transport Mr S Iswaran at Temasek Ecosperity Week Day 2 “Decarbonising Transport and Heavy Industry”

08 Jun 2022Speeches

Mr Lim Boon Heng,
Chairman of Temasek Holdings

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,


1.     A very good morning to all of you. Thank you for inviting me to speak at this Ecosperity session on Decarbonising Transport and Heavy Industry.

2.     There is a global consensus on the imperative of climate action – the question is not Whether to act, but rather What to do, and by When. In accord with the Paris Agreement, many countries have made emissions mitigation pledges. Companies have also set sustainability targets and taken steps to decarbonise their portfolios.

3.     For an island nation like Singapore, climate change is an existential threat, and we are committed to doing our part to address this challenge of the global commons. Though we account for around 0.1% of global emissions, as an aviation, maritime and business hub, our actions can also have a catalytic impact that goes well beyond our borders.

4.     In February this year, we announced that we will raise our ambition to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, in line with the Glasgow Climate Pact. The Singapore Green Plan sets out how we intend to achieve this, and in particular, in the transportation sector, we will take action across all three domains – land, sea, and air.

Greening Land Transport

5.     Sustainability is intrinsic to the design and DNA of our land transport, which accounts for about 15% of carbon emissions in Singapore. Over the decades, we have implemented car-lite policies while investing significantly in our public transport infrastructure. Building on this foundation, earlier this year I announced our target to reduce land transport emissions by 80% by mid-century, from its peak in 2016. This is no mean feat given the range of transportation solutions, and the kind of sustainability responses that we need.

6.     Public transport is central to this effort. LTA estimates that the carbon footprint of a single journey can be reduced by 85% if we switch from driving an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car to taking the MRT. Our goal is to have 75% of all daily trips on mass public transport, up from 64% today. And to that end, we will increase our MRT network by about 50% – from 250km to 360km – over the next 10 years.

7.     The other major thrust in decarbonising land transport is the electrification of our vehicle population. Switching from ICE to electric halves the carbon footprint, and even more with the growing proportion of renewables in our energy mix. We therefore aim to have all vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040, with battery electric vehicles as the mainstay, complemented by other emerging/maturing technologies.

8.     The announcement of this vision in 2020 was reinforced by several major policy moves to promote the adoption of EVs. They range from fiscal incentives to bridge the price gap between EVs and ICE vehicles, to accelerating the deployment of charging infrastructure across our island. Specifically, we aim to have all 2,000 public housing carparks equipped with EV chargers by 2025, and a network of 60,000 chargers by 2030. In short, we want to take the anxiety out of range.

9.     Our industry partners are also stepping up. For instance, Surbana Jurong is working with SP Group to build an EV charging hub at their new global headquarters in the Jurong Innovation District. When completed, it will house 250 EV charging lots – the largest charging hub in Southeast Asia.

10.    These and other efforts are beginning to bear fruit. In the first five months of this year, new electric car registrations accounted for 8.4% of all new car registrations – more than twice the rate in 2021, and over 20 times that in 2020, just two years ago. We expect this momentum to gather pace.

11.    Decarbonising our heavy vehicle population is the other important task. The government is taking the lead in this regard, and we will electrify half our public bus fleet by 2030. That means 3,000 electric public buses on our roads by the end of the decade. We have also introduced tax incentives to encourage industry players, such as logistics companies, to convert their fleets to cleaner-energy models. Fleet operators such as DHL, Bolloré and Kuehne+Nagel, are at various stages of piloting and deploying the use of EVs in Singapore for the delivery of goods.

Sustainable hub of connectivity

International collaboration for collective action

12.    Let me now turn to aviation and maritime transport, and elaborate on how Singapore will be a sustainable hub for global connectivity.

13.    As a major international transport hub, Singapore is a key node in the daily global flows of goods and people to destinations around the world. Air and Sea transport are network services that thrive on scale. Their emissions – accounting for 2% and 3% respectively of global emissions – are transboundary in nature. The impetus for decisive climate action therefore lies in collective action – through multilateral agreements; collaborative initiatives among likeminded countries; and, crucially, partnerships between the public and private sectors. And we are involved on all these fronts.

14.    On the international front, the leadership of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is key. Singapore is a strong supporter of initiatives like CORSIA (under ICAO) and the IMO Initial Strategy on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships, which set out important baseline actions and plans for the global aviation and maritime industries. Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing at both fora on more ambitious longer-term emissions mitigation targets for the international maritime and aviation sectors. The challenge, as with all multilateral efforts, is to balance the ambitious targets that reflect the sectors’ commitment to strong global climate action, with the need for inclusivity and supporting mechanisms for developing States, especially Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.

15.    To complement the moves at IMO and ICAO, we actively participate in plurilateral initiatives that seek to go further and faster.

16.    One example is the First Movers Coalition (FMC), which we recently joined as a Government Partner, along with Denmark, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the US. This Coalition seeks to foster deep public-private collaboration to clean up the most carbon-intensive industry sectors, from heavy industry to long distance transport. More than 50 companies, whose market cap represents about US$8.5 trillion, spread across five continents, have joined the Coalition and sent a strong market signal to commercialise emerging clean technologies by making unprecedented advance purchase commitments by 2030 for near-zero carbon steel, aluminum, shipping, trucking and aviation, as well as advanced carbon dioxide removal solutions. Singapore was invited to join the Coalition as an early Government Partner in recognition of our ability to contribute, as an international hub with strong business links, to help develop and scale low-carbon technologies and solutions for industries. The FMC is also a platform for our own companies to collaborate with like- minded corporate and government partners from around the world to harness low- carbon technologies and solutions.

17.    Our Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) supports another such coalition – the Castor Initiative. It brings together public and private partners across the maritime ecosystem to design, build and commission the world’s first ammonia-fuelled tanker by 2026.

18.    In parallel, Singapore also recently joined the Clydebank Declaration, which aspires to establish green shipping corridors between two or more ports – each equipped with the necessary infrastructure to support vessels run on lower-carbon fuels, such as the Castor Initiative’s ammonia-fuelled tanker. This will give the industry greater confidence to build such vessels in furtherance of greater sustainability.

19.    In aviation, Singapore is a member of the World Economic Forum Clean Skies for Tomorrow Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Ambassadors Group. It is estimated that SAF can deliver lifecycle emissions savings of up to 80% as compared to conventional jet fuel. The Group has published a global SAF policy toolkit to support SAF deployment by companies and governments.

20.    We are also forging bilateral partnerships such as our recent Memorandum of Arrangement on sustainable aviation with New Zealand, which we hope will serve as a launchpad for a deeper partnership, especially in areas such as SAFs and hydrogen- based fuels.

Strategies leveraging public-private partnerships in Singapore

21.    But beyond the international and plurilateral, we in Singapore are working on three fronts to decarbonise the maritime and aviation sector. And these are: efficiency gains, electrification, and eco-friendly fuels.

22.    First, efficiency gains where Singapore is already starting from a strong base. Our seaport and airport are among the most efficient in the world. To reach the next frontier of efficiency, we are investing heavily in digitalisation, which is better for the environment, and also for businesses.

22.    For instance, MPA is developing DigitalPORT@SGTM to streamline port clearances and optimise delivery of marine services for a faster turnaround and maximum fuel economy. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is leveraging advanced Air Traffic Management (ATM) capabilities and working with aviation partners to optimise flight operations, and thus reduce fuel burn and emissions of aircraft.

24.    The deployment of new and more efficient aircraft also significantly reduces fuel burn and emissions. And I know we already have industry players here who will be sharing more, but it is noteworthy that Boeing estimates every new generation of aircraft is typically 15% – 25% more efficient. From Singapore’s perspective, the SIA fleet, with an average age of about six years, is one of the youngest and most fuel- efficient in the world.

25.    The second thrust is electrification. This includes the electrification of ground vehicles and harbourcraft, as well as other equipment within our seaport and airport. Our experience in electrifying motor vehicles, and partnership with industry players, will yield useful insights in this regard.

26.    Thirdly, eco-friendly fuels. Even as sustainable fuel technology evolves, we have commenced pilots to ensure that we are well-placed to provide these fuels, as part of a multi-fuel solution, as the technology matures and adoption picks up.

27.    In the maritime sector, we have moved on different fronts, but if I may commence with talking a little bit more specifically on aviation – sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), for instance. Starting from 3Q2022, as part of CAAS’ pilot with SIA and Temasek, all SIA and Scoot flights flying out of Changi Airport will use a blend of refined jet fuel and neat SAF.

28.    I am also pleased to announce that CAAS, SIA and Temasek will be launching the pilot SAF credits scheme in July this year. This is part of the CAAS-SIA-Temasek pilot announced in November last year to advance the use of SAF in Singapore. These SAF credits provide an opportunity for businesses and travellers to reduce their carbon footprint from air travel and air freight. CAAS, SIA Group and Temasek will release more details shortly.

29.    In the maritime space, Singapore completed its first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) ship-to-ship bunkering last year, which is an important step towards decarbonisation given LNG’s role as a transitional fuel. We have also seen the first marine biofuel trial involving an ocean-going vessel bunkering in Singapore. Since then, more companies have followed suit to scale the uptake of these marine biofuels. Our Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, jointly funded by the government and industry, now has $155 million in funding to support the testing and deployment of green technologies and fuels.


30.    If I may conclude – the impetus for climate action – by companies and countries – has never been greater. The Singapore Green Plan articulates our vision, commitment and action for a sustainable future. Central to our effort in the transport sector has been support for multilateral proposals, complemented by plurilateral coalitions and domestic initiatives. A crucial ingredient for success, given the scale and urgency of the task at hand, is the fostering of deep public-private collaboration to innovate, pilot and scale sustainable solutions. Mindful of the spirit and intent of this Ecosperity event, I want to end by inviting each and all of you to partner us, with your energy and ideas, in this critical endeavour to build a sustainable future for all. Thank you very much.


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