A Leading Green Economy

Singapore has rolled out various schemes in order to ensure that companies are as green as possible while still contributing to the economy.

In terms of water and energy conservation practices, over 165 energy-intensive companies have been required under the Energy Conservation Act (ECA) to implement energy management practices and submit energy-use reports and energy efficiency improvement plans to NEA. Similarly, more than 370 companies have submitted their Water Efficiency Management Plans (WEMPs) which was a voluntary initiative up until 2014. 2015 onwards, it is mandatory for all large water users to submit annual WEMPs. The submission of reports by these large companies would allow both the private and public sector to reap benefits as other companies are able to emulate the successful measures implemented by these large companies. In the words of Morten Kabell, Copenhagen’s mayor for environmental and technical affairs, “It is crucial to share knowledge, know-how and results across cities, worldwide, because the green economy is not just about growth, it’s about creating a better world and liveable cities.” While Kabell focused on knowledge-sharing on the cities level which is macro, the same can be applied on a more micro level where knowledge-sharing should be applicable to companies as well.

In terms of training programmes, one example would be the Singapore Certified Energy Manager (SCEM) which equips personnel with relevant knowledge and skills to help them manage the energy use of their daily operations. Grants have also been awarded to more than 1,000 candidates under this scheme.

In terms of incentivising companies to go green throughout the whole value chain and operations, schemes such as the Design for Efficiency Scheme (DfES), Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme (EASe) and Grant for Energy Efficient Technologies (GREET) have been rolled out. DfES provides planning support to companies which are investing in new facilities which are green, EASe provides energy audit services to companies while GREET provides financial assistance to owners and operators of industrial facilities.

SMEs being a large part of Singapore’s economy, SPRING Singapore has also developed the SME Energy Efficiency Initiative which provides grants to SMEs for energy audits, energy efficiency projects as well as the implementation of energy monitoring solutions.

Besides water and energy, waste reduction is also a key area in trying to achieve a green economy. Prior to the launch of the Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) in 2007, packaging waste contributed around one third of Singapore’s domestic waste by weight. After the launch of SPA, signatories reduced about 20,000 tonnes of packaging waste and thus saved more than $44 million in material costs of locally-consumed products. In April 2014, NEA also made it compulsory for large organisations to report waste data and waste reduction plans.

Singapore has adopted a rather holistic approach to ensure that the economy is kept green in the three areas, namely water, waste and electricity. With the mandatory annual reports in place, coupled with financial as well as non-financial support not only incentivises these companies to adopt cleaner practices but also enables them to do so.

On top of the implementations mentioned above, the Blueprint has set new targets. The key targets are:
i) Introduce new innovation districts to act as living labs which can foster creativity, thus fuelling innovation.
ii) Increase the reliance on solar power to 350 MWp by 2020 by creating more lead demand through the SolarNova programme
iii) Increase capability to develop green buildings through a $52 million Green Buildings Innovation Cluster
iv) Create more green jobs
v) Encourage Singapore-based companies to adopt sustainability practices
vi) Test more green innovations, this includes the Semakau Landfill Renewable Energy Integration Demonstration – Singapore testbed

Generally, while the measures are mostly concrete, targets such as (v) are a little more iffy and difficult to achieve as adopting sustainability practices would usually mean changing the way some things are done in companies. And companies would usually only bother to do so if there are tangible incentives such as grants or awards or having a significant cut in operational costs.

In the recent Green Growth Business Forum held in Singapore in July 2016, experts have outlined the possibility of technological solutions, besides policy-making, can help to drive the transformation of countries adopting green growth as an economic model. Kabell and many other experts on other platforms have addressed the concern about cost, thus dismissing the myth that going green means increased costs. Once this belief can be eliminated, the road towards achieve a green economy would definitely be smoother.

 

References

Tay, E. (2015, December 31). My vision of a sustainable future for Singapore in 2065. [Web Log Article]. Retrieved from http://www.greenfuture.sg/2015/12/31/my-vision-of-a-sustainable-future-for-singapore-in-2065/

Rana, P. (2016, July 27). Solutions to drive the green economy. Eco-Business. Retrieved from http://www.eco-business.com/news/solutions-to-drive-the-green-economy/

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