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

Last update: November 2021

Ambition gap

Singaporeʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−120%−100%−80%−60%−40%−20%0%19902010203020502070
Net zero GHG excl. LULUCF*
2053
Reference year
2015
1.5°C emissions level
−69%
NDC
+8%
Ambition gap
−77%
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions

*Net zero emissions excl LULUCF is achieved through deployment of BECCS; other novel CDR is not included in these pathways

Summary

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 Singapore is currently reviewing its NDC.17

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.

17 Channel News Asia. Singapore to review its climate change target as world leaders agree COP26 deal. (2021).

18 Lau, H. C. et al. A Decarbonization Roadmap for Singapore and Its Energy Policy Implications. (2021) doi:10.3390/en14206455.

19 EDB: Singapore. Sustainable Jurong Island. 2021.

20 “UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement. (2021).”: https://ukcop26.org/global-coal-to-clean-power-transition-statement/

21 Duarte, C., Raftery, P. & Schiavon, S. Development of Whole-Building Energy Models for Detailed Energy Insights of a Large Office Building with Green Certification Rating in Singapore. Energy Technol. 6, 84–93 (2018).

A 1.5°C compatible pathway would require domestic GHG emissions to peak immediately, and reach 18-22 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030, or a 56-63% 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 reach zero GHG emissions or a 100% 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.

Power

Key power sector benchmarks

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

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Paris Agreement compatible pathways require Singapore to accelerate renewable energy uptake from 2% of the current power mix to 7-13% 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.

Urban solar, green hydrogen and renewable energy imports through regional interconnections offers Singapore an opportunity to decarbonise.

Singapore has a power emissions intensity of 350 gCO₂/kWh which would need to be reduced to 1-8 gCO₂/kWh by 2040, in order to be 1.5°C compatible. Some pathways show a carbon intensity of -128 gCO₂/kWh by 2050 is possible when renewable energy, negative emissions technology and energy efficiency measures are deployed.

Footnotes