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What is Singaporeʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

In brief

This is a summary of the most important findings of our analysis. Get a brief overview over the most important figures and entry points into the various parts of the in depth analysis.

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Ambition gap

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Singaporeʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−100 %−50 %0 %200020202040206012345
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
  1. 1
    1.5°C emissions level
    −61 %
  2. 2
    +32 %
  3. 3
    Ambition gap
    −92 %
  4. 4
    Net zero GHG incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
  5. 5
    Reference year
Key messages

In March 2020, Singapore updated its NDC by changing its intensity target to an absolute target of 65 MtCO2e/yr by 2030, or a 24% increase above 2015 levels.1,14 The update did not result in a stronger target despite the country being on track to overachieve its NDC by implementing current policies.2

1 Singapore government. Singapore’s Update of its First Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and Accompanying Information. (2020).

2 Climate Action Tracker. Singapore CAT Climate Target Update Tracker. Climate Action Tracker. (2020).

3 CAT. CAT Climate Target Update Tracker, Singapore. Climate Action Tracker. (2020).

4 National Environment Agency. Singapore’s Fourth Biennial Update Report. (2020).

5 National Climate Change Secretariat. Charting Singapore’s Low-Carbon and Climate Resilient Future. (2020).

6 IEA. Singapore. International Energy Agency. (2021).

7 JTC Corporation. Jurong Island. (2021).

8 Geoscience Australia. AusH2 – Australia’s Hydrogen Opportunities Tool. (2021).

9 Wamsted, D. & Schlissel, D. Petra Nova Mothballing Post-Mortem: Closure of Texas Carbon Capture Plant Is a Warning Sign. (2020).

10 Climate Action Tracker. Singapore. (2020).

11 Sun Cable. Sun Cable Website. Sun Cable. (2021).

12 Vidinopoulos, A., Whale, J. & Fuentes Hutfilter, U. Assessing the technical potential of ASEAN countries to achieve 100% renewable energy supply. Sustain. Energy Technol. Assessments 42, 100878 (2020).

13 Asian Renewable Energy Hub. Asian Renewable Energy Hub. (2021).

14 Data excludes Land use, Land use change and forestry (LULUCF) emissions. However, Singapore’s LULUCF emissions account for very little (e.g. 0.1 MtCO2e/yr in 2014).

15 32 MtCO2e calculated in AR4 values by the Climate Action Tracker. Source cites 33 MtCO2e/yr in AR5 GWP values.

16 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

A 1.5°C compatible pathway would require domestic GHG emissions to peak immediately, and reach 21-25 MtCO2e/yr by 2030, or a 52-61% reduction below 2015 levels. A fair share contribution to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions compatible with the Paris Agreement would require Singapore to go further than its domestic target, and provide substantial support for emission reductions to poor countries on top of its domestic reductions.

Singapore aims to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of the century, and halving its GHG emissions to 32 MtCO2e/yr by 2050.3,15

A 1.5°C compatible pathway would require Singapore to almost reach zero GHG emissions (1 MtCO2e/yr) or a 98% (97-102%) reduction below 2015 levels by 2050.16 Decarbonising the energy sector will drive down CO2 levels, particularly energy combustion, as it accounts for 87% of total GHG emissions (mainly CO2).

Policy measures that could support the transformation could include accelerating the shift in the transport sector to electric mobility, upgrading and electrifying the building and industry sectors, improving material efficiency, and significant scaling up of renewable energy including exploring options for imports, and use or export of zero emission fuels such as green hydrogen.

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Key messages

Paris compatible pathways require Singapore to accelerate renewable energy uptake from 2% of the current power mix to 8-13% in 2030 and 95-97% in 2050.

Singapore is highly reliant on imported natural gas (96% of the power mix), which would need to be phased out in the 2040s in order to be consistent with 1.5°C compatible pathways. Such a high reliance on natural gas imports poses risks to energy security, creates cost uncertainty, and stranded asset risks as global trends transition towards a low carbon economy. Urban solar, green hydrogen and renewable energy imports through regional interconnections offers Singapore an opportunity to decarbonise.

Singapore has a power emissions intensity of 400 gCO2/kWh which would need to be reduced to zero by 2040, in order to be 1.5°C compatible. Some pathways show a carbon intensity of -130 gCO2/kWh by 2050 is possible when renewable energy, negative emissions technology and energy efficiency measures are deployed.

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Key power sector benchmarks

Renewables shares and year of zero emissions power Including the use of BECCS

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Current targets
Required targets
  1. 2030 7 to 13% Renewable share
  1. 2040-2042 Zero emissions power
  1. 2050 95 to 97% Renewable share