Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay have huge plant-covered « trees » and huge greenhouses with rare plant species. (File Photo: AFP / Roslan Rahman)
SINGAPORE: In a debate on a parliamentary motion that was passed on Wednesday (Jan. 12), the issues that support Singaporeans in creating green jobs were among the issues the country is facing turn it into a green funding center and fight greenwashing.
In the motion tabled by MPs of the People’s Action Party (PAP) on climate protection measures, 19 MPs from both sides of the aisle rose to speak for more than five hours .
The motion read: “This House calls on the government to improve green finance, create more green jobs and strengthen business accountability in partnership with the private sector, civil society and the community to make Singapore’s inclusive Advance transition to a low carbon society. ”
The motion cited by Ms. Poh Li San (PAP-Sembawang) was supported by other members of the PAP’s Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) on Sustainability and Environment. It comes after the GPC tabled the first parliamentary motion on climate change in February last year.
In her opening address, Ms. Poh stressed that the priority in Singapore’s green transition is to ensure that Singaporeans are not left behind. To do this, they must be equipped with the appropriate skills.
In the short to medium term, the fastest way to introduce training is to use the existing educational facilities, she said.
Ms. Hany Soh (PAP-Marsiling-Yew Tee) repeated this and suggested the development of further sustainability modules in Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) in addition to more accredited SkillsFuture courses.
This « enables both young and old Singaporeans to increase their employability with regard to green industries ». Ms. Soh also presented other internship opportunities.
Still, the employment rates of full-time green graduates were « not overly encouraging, » noted Ms. Rachel Ong (PAP West Coast), who cited specific examples for environmental engineering graduates.
This shows that authorities need to work with the private sector and the IHLS to better understand the possible causes of these lagging employment rates – be it a skills gap, skill mismatch, or lack of job opportunities, she said.
Going forward, she suggested improving the curriculum for emerging green sectors also by advising industry players. Ms. Ong also advocated running « green immersion programs » overseas for students.
In addition, helping workers in carbon-intensive sectors affected by green developments is vital, said MP Dennis Tan (WP-Hougang). This is because Singapore’s green transition should be « easy », he said.
« Such a just transition roadmap must be an important addition to the SG Green Plan 2030 on the green economy and must be implemented. This ensures that value is not only generated within the company, but that a fair share of the value created benefits the employees in Singapore directly. ”
The MEPs also dealt with the trading of emissions certificates, with the company in value-adding environmental projects invest to offset their own carbon footprint. These credits may come from the removal of emissions from the atmosphere through projects such as forest restoration.
Nominated MP Professor Koh Lian Pin, an environmental scientist, said they were « low hanging fruits » that help create one To close the tap on carbon emissions by ending deforestation while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through reforestation.
However, he noted the need to ensure that these projects bring « real, additional and lasting benefits », not only for climate protection, but also for the communities and local biodiversity.
Mr. Derrick Goh (PAP-Nee Soon) also suggested that Singapore position itself as a hub for CO2 services, including CO2 credits . The carbon markets are facing challenges such as the lack of strong governance, different standards and the verifiability of projects, he said.
« Given the pent-up demand, the opportunities that are presented to us are real. Singapore can play an outstanding leadership role as a trusted global financial and service center with a strong regulatory regime, market infrastructure and expertise in the service sector. «
In a broader sense, Don Wee (PAP-Chua Chu Kang) also pushed for more green financing, adding, that Singapore « can catalyze the flow of capital towards sustainable development in the region ».
« The government can lead the way in promoting sustainable finance by mandating its legal bodies … to issue green bonds and the framework and the Establishes rules for green funding, ”he said. This is on top of the $ 19 billion worth of public infrastructure projects to be funded through green bonds.
He also urged authorities to commit to a minimum number of green bond issues each year, including one Green bond product linked to the country’s state rating for private customers to expand the pool of local green investors.
MEPs also stressed the need to strengthen sustainability reporting and prevent the risk of greenwashing. MP Nadia Samdin (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) suggested developing a national sustainability accounting strategy as this remains an emerging concept worldwide.
The need for a « strong Singaporean standard » is also to include environmental claims , Social and corporate governance (ESG) are seen by companies today as necessary and “not just available as a good”. Currently, however, ESG insurance frameworks tend to be decentralized and diverse, she said.
« I hope that more guidance and resources can be made available to relevant institutions and partners to address the myriad of reporting and auditing frameworks currently available Ms. Nadia said. MP Gan Thiam Poh (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) recommended standardized green certification for companies to ensure transparency in reporting on green finances. A nationwide uniform ESG rating index and a methodology for evaluating companies would also be ideal should be presented clearly in plain English ”.
A standardized certification program enables the public to find out which product or service providers are receiving green certificates. This could also serve as motivation for other companies, said Gan.
MP Jamus Lim (WP-Sengkang) pointed out the danger of greenwashing – making false or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service or one Technology.
On the corporate front, for example, he cited the need to “protect yourself against claims by companies that announce environmental goals but only do so for sustainability reasons”.
“Although it is impossible to use these so-called Perfectly overseeing greenwashing attempts, the government should not be complicit in stamping approvals on firms that simply declare compliance with such standards for the purpose of executing applications or, worse, marketing. « Reasons, » said er.
Governments can play a role in ensuring that such claims about green practices are broadly fair are made. Associate Professor Lim noted that some countries such as Australia and Canada currently have regulations on misleading environmental claims, and it is worth investigating whether similar regulatory steps are justified in Singapore.
The Minister for Sustainability and Environment Grace Fu acknowledged that sustainability reporting and auditing is « a critical aspect » of good corporate governance in a low-carbon world.
She noted how the Singapore Exchange released a roadmap for mandatory climate-related financial disclosure for public companies, starting with those in industries most exposed to climate risk.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will also advise the industry on mandatory climate-related financial information for financial institutions.
« The government will monitor global developments and experiences with such mandatory disclosures b before deciding on the approach for other companies, « said Ms. Fu.
Regarding carbon markets where she found a lack of confidence, Ms. Fu said such platforms » have been held back by concerns about environmental integrity , exacerbated by a fragmentation of rules and standards and the proliferation of low quality emission allowances that were not representative ”. real, measurable and additional emissions reductions ”.
Therefore, robust rules and clear guidelines need to be established that focus on environmental integrity.
This is why Singapore has agreed to open discussions on Article 6 – an article under the Paris Agreement of 2015 that lays down rules for regulating global emission allowance markets – to support « a common rules-based, global framework and foundation for maintaining environmental integrity and avoiding double counting ».
Singapore is also actively taking participated in various international platforms to promote greater environmental integrity and forge partnerships in carbon markets, she added.
In a separate speech, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said the country is aiming to become a center for carbon services and trading.
Singapore is now working with « like-minded partners » to set the rules for border Standardizing cross-credit transactions and building infrastructure and processes, he added. Regarding Singapore’s green economy plans, Mr. Gan noted that Singapore is already developing green growth opportunities such as green finance, with the country as a trustworthy finance company – and business center is well placed to do so.
« In fact, we are already the market leader in sustainable debt in Southeast Asia. The sector is still evolving and there is great potential as the demand for green finance continues to grow in the region, ”he added, noting that the MAS has developed a holistic action plan to develop the sector.In response to Mr Wee’s proposal to the government to issue more green bonds, Mr Gan said, « We are looking at ways to do this through the Treasury Department’s Green Bonds Program Office. » PAP describes climate protection with a parable in which blind men touch different parts of an elephant and different people perceive sustainability in different ways.
“For the containment measures to be successful, we should have a clear and holistic understanding of the precarious situation of our island state. With a full understanding, each of us will have a greater sense of urgency and motivation to do what is needed. ”She added that as long as the country remains committed to its green path, it has an excellent opportunity to stay one step ahead of the competition without anyone being left behind.
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