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Singapore can do more for low carbon future: UN Climate Change Chief

06 Mar Singapore can do more for low carbon future: UN Climate Change Chief

Singapore can do more to direct public fund and private capital to high-tech, low-carbon investments, said Ms Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

She urged state-linked investment companies as well as sovereign wealth and pension fund managers here to take the lead in promoting climate-friendly industries, as they control a significant pool of funds and typically have a longer investment horizon. She added that companies do not have to make the shift to low-carbon industries out of a “save the world” attitude. Rather, they could see this as part of their risk aversion strategies.

The UN climate chief was in Singapore for an official visit from February 28 to March 2. She also made a stop at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs to speak to a number of business leaders here on their climate change mitigation strategies.

Ms Figueres added that the garden city of Singapore is already a model city in the region, given its sound urban planning, effective management of resources and wastes, among others. She made this observation after cycling through the park connector network in Sengkang, Punggol and Lorong Halus Wetland during her visit.

If Singapore can do more to incentivise low carbon investments across more sectors, it can certainly qualify as a “city of the future”, she said.

Ms Figueres also assured that the negotiations towards a global agreement on climate change is on track. Representatives from 194 countries met in Geneva last month to flesh out the negotiating text, which will be further deliberated over three sessions in June, September and October. Global leaders will then meet in Paris at the end of this year to ink the climate change deal.

“There will be an agreement this time,” she said, “The formal negotiating text is on the table now, unlike the case of Copenhagen.”

The 2009 negotiations in Copenhagen were frantic and inconclusive, leaving many environmental groups disappointed. But there have been some significant breakthroughs of late, with China and the US, the world’s biggest carbon emitters, working together towards a positive outcome in Paris.

Ms Figueres is optimistic that a clear international framework for carbon reduction can be established in Paris, as countries increasingly recognise how they can benefit from climate change measures. She also stressed that no country or company is expected to make a “dramatic, irresponsible shift” that would risk its viability when the Paris agreement comes into effect in 2020. All parties will instead be accorded a reasonable amount of time to improve their carbon efficiency and transit to low carbon growth.