The Financial Times article, “Singapore fails to keep pace with wealthy peers on carbon emissions” (12 March 2021) by Mr Steven Bernard, claimed that Singapore lags behind most wealthy developed countries in reducing carbon emissions growth, and that the country’s carbon emissions growth was exacerbated by deforestation.

There are inaccuracies in the article that should be highlighted:

First, Singapore’s comparison with other countries was inaccurate, as the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) cited in the article had used an erroneous estimate of Singapore’s CO2 emissions in 2017 at 77.5 million tonnes (Mt). This is 28.4Mt or 58% more than the official record for the same year of 49.1 Mt, which is publicly available on Singstat.

Second, the claim that Singapore’s emissions growth rate “has been exacerbated due to deforestation” is also erroneous. Based on the latest official record in 2016, CO2 emissions from changes in land use accounted for only 0.02% of Singapore’s total CO2 emissions. In fact, the greening of the city has been a national priority over the years.

Singapore has safeguarded and grown green spaces through urban planning and sustainable management. This priority continues. The country plans to add 1000ha of green spaces by 2035 and plant 1 million more trees by 2030. In the recently launched Singapore Green Plan 2030, a key thrust is for Singapore to be a City in Nature.

Third, the article attributed the reduction in emissions growth of wealthy developed countries to their shift away from coal, and said that Singapore had failed to keep pace. The fact is that Singapore’s reliance on coal has been very low since independence; since the early 2000s, the country also started to shift from fuel oil to the cleaner natural gas for power generation. Today, coal makes up less than 2% of Singapore’s power generation capacity.

The reality is that Singapore has been taking significant steps over the years to curb the country’s emissions growth. Singapore’s emissions intensity is among the lowest 20 in the world. The country’s aspiration is to peak its emissions by 2030, halve the emissions from its peak by 2050, and to abate the other half as soon as viable.

As a small open economy with limited access to renewable energy, the country relies on advances in low-carbon technology and international collaboration, including regional power grids and credible carbon markets, to achieve this aspiration. Singapore is fully committed to playing its part in climate action, and will continue to review its climate goals to be in line with international and technology developments.


Note: The Singapore Government wrote to the Financial Times on the above on 19 March 2021, but the Financial Times has yet to publish the response.

For more details on the Singapore Green Plan, visit this website.

For more details on Singapore’s climate change strategies, visit the National Climate Change Secretariat website.