Singapore and climate change action
If you're somewhat close to the world of climate change mitigation, you would no doubt be aware that the the 23rd Conference of Parties is in progress in Bonn, though it is hosted by Fiji. This version of the COP is largely expected to be a more focussed on technical details rather than sweeping statements (such as COP21 in Paris for example). Not that this conference won't have any solid outcomes however - there are a number of interested parties looking to see if there will be any advancements on negotiations with regard to Article 6 (which sets up the potential for co-operation between parties to achieve mitigation outcomes - i.e., international markets and trading of emissions reductions in one country to count towards another country's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)). COP23 will also set the groundwork for setting the rules that govern review and update of NDCs. The rule setting process will likely occur in 2018 but this year is important to ensure that next year's process goes smoothly.
So where is Singapore in all of this? In Thursday's session in Bonn, Singapore's environment and water resources minister spoke at the conference. Two announcements were made in this speech. Firstly, Minister Masagos Zulkifli designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action. Clearly there is a lot going on already but this will help to crystallise climate change action within the city-state under a single banner. This also indicates that climate change action will become more visible to the public within the coming year.
"Since our early years of nation building, Singapore has placed considerable emphasis on sustainable development ... Even so, we want to do more to instill awareness of climate change amongst our citizens and inspire and to support the Paris Agreement,"
The second thing that happened during the minister's speech was that it was announced that Singapore would become a signatory to the Ministerial Declaration on Carbon Markets. Singapore becomes the 20th signatory to this declaration, which was introduced by New Zealand at COP21 in 2015 (and interestingly includes the USA as a signatory as well...). (http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/default/files/media/ministerial-declaration-on-carbon-markets.pdf)
The signing of this declaration is reflective of Singapore's ambition to implement a carbon tax in 2019. The public consultation paper and rules for the carbon tax have recently been released by the Singapore Government. engeco consultant's are currently reviewing these papers and will provide insights into the nature of the carbon tax in coming weeks.
The final thing that is interesting about these announcements by the minister are that they come just as Singapore is about to take over as chair of ASEAN. This role, combined with the designation of 2018 as the Year of Climate Action provides a perfect opportunity for the country to provide regional leadership in the area of climate change action - particularly as the ASEAN region is highly vulnerable to the physical risks of climate change.