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MPs propose tiered carbon tax model, setting up academy for sustainability-related R&D to combat climate change

SINGAPORE — A group of Members of Parliament will next week propose in Parliament a tiered carbon tax model and the setting up of an academy for sustainability-related research and development (R&D) and training to help Singapore combat climate change.

The Members of Parliament will also suggest publishing a catalogue of firms with low or reduced carbon emissions to encourage other firms to adopt sustainable practices.
The Members of Parliament will also suggest publishing a catalogue of firms with low or reduced carbon emissions to encourage other firms to adopt sustainable practices.
  • MPs from the Government Parliamentary Committee for Sustainability and the Environment will file a parliamentary motion on climate change in Parliament next week
  • This is their second such motion following the first filed last year
  • The latest motion is targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by industries here
  • MPs speaking on the motion will propose a tiered carbon tax model
  • They will also propose setting up an academy to groom local R&D experts

SINGAPORE — A group of Members of Parliament will next week propose in Parliament a tiered carbon tax model and the setting up of an academy for sustainability-related research and development (R&D) and training to help Singapore combat climate change.

These proposals will be laid out in a private members' motion on climate change in Parliament on Monday (Jan 10).

This is the second such motion by the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Sustainability and the Environment, after its first filed last February.

This second one will be filed by the GPC's deputy chair, Ms Poh Li San, and will be supported by its chairman, Mr Louis Ng, as well as by Ms Nadia Samdin, Mr Don Wee, Mr Gan Thiam Poh and Ms Hany Soh from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).

In a statement issued to the media this week, the party said that the motion states: “This House calls for the Government to enhance green financing, create more green jobs, and strengthen corporate accountability, in partnership with the private sector, civil society and community, to advance Singapore’s inclusive transition towards a low-carbon society.”

At least 15 PAP MPs will speak on the motion, as well as Nominated Member of Parliament Koh Lian Pin, a conservationist scientist.

For the motion, the PAP MPs will draw on a paper by Young PAP (YP), titled "Climate Action Strategy Phase 1: Developing a Green Ecosystem", which lays out recommendations for the first phase of YP's climate mitigation action strategy.

Among other things, the paper recommends that the Government apply carbon tax to more companies, especially all businesses within the manufacturing, built environment and trade and connectivity industries, regardless of their annual emission amount.

The paper also recommends setting a cap on carbon intensity for all businesses, especially those in carbon-intensive sectors such as energy and chemicals, manufacturing and the built environment.

Young PAP will submit this paper to the Government after Sunday.

Mr Kenneth Yeo, who leads the YP climate change research team, told reporters at a briefing that the first motion was broad and targeted the public, private and people sectors, while this upcoming motion is targeted more at industries, which generate a large proportion of carbon emissions here.

“We narrowed our focus to creating an ecosystem which touches on three points — better green financing framework, a sustainability administration strategy and increasing the talent pipeline," he said.

"These three ideas cut across all sectors and would have the most impact for the industry as a whole.”

Mr Ng, the GPC’s chairman, said that the aim of the motion is to discuss the principles behind carbon tax, green financing and emission standards, with the exact details to be debated during the Committee of Supply debate next month.

The following are some suggestions that the MPs will present during the motion:

TIERED CARBON TAX MODEL

With carbon taxes in Singapore due to be revised in 2024, the YP report proposes a tiered carbon tax model to regulate carbon emissions.

This is because a fixed carbon tax rate would disproportionately affect middle-tier emitters more than the largest emitters, as larger emitters tend to have the fiscal capacity to pay off the carbon tax.

Currently, the Government charges a carbon tax of S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions on companies which emit at least 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions yearly.

The motion will propose that a base carbon tax be set, following which this base tax will increase marginally after every emission bracket.

An incremental model like this will not overly penalise environmentally prudent businesses and also provide greater incentive for large emitters to reduce their emissions, said YP in its report.

CATALOGUE OF SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSES

MPs speaking during the motion will also suggest that the Government publish a catalogue of firms with low or reduced carbon emissions.

This is so that consumers will be encouraged to buy from companies with more sustainable practices and other firms will be incentivised to adopt best practices on sustainability.

During the briefing, Mr Don Wee, an MP in the GPC, said that the catalogue will only feature local businesses for now and the number of firms will be shared at a later date.

ACCOUNTABILITY IN SUSTAINABILITY REPORTING

The motion will call for more robust and transparent sustainability reporting.

In its report, YP said that the ability to accurately account for greenhouse gas emissions will allow Singapore to make more targeted interventions within industries.

It noted that there are no internationally agreed standards for carbon accounting and the current “unharmonised and disparate landscape” gives Singapore an opportunity to improve its sustainability reporting.

Among its proposals to improve accountability, the report suggested that Singapore require vessels and planes to share greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with international standards.

It also proposed for the Government to set a minimum annual revenue for mandatory sustainability reporting.

This will identify companies with and without the financial and administrative capacity to undertake sustainability auditing and significantly increase the demand for sustainability auditors.

GREEN SPACE ACADEMY

The motion will propose setting up a Green Space Academy to groom local experts in R&D such as mechanical engineers and maintenance and repair specialists.

Mr Yeo said that compared with other sustainability courses that already exist, this academy should be more industry-centric and will aim to develop R&D talent and skills that can be put into the industry immediately.

The academy will provide programmes featuring specialist and professional tracks for youth in tertiary institutions and adults in late-career transitions.

The programmes will also combine classroom teaching, simulated experiential learning and internship arrangements with partner organisations.

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