Singapore is growing a green node for sustainability efforts in Asia and can be a marketplace for carbon credits, says Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking at the 24th Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference, DPM Heng outlined Singapore's status and potential as a gateway into investment in Asia, including green finance. 

“With up to 120 million hectares of land available for re-forestation, this can potentially contribute to carbon removal at a rate of 3.4 gigatonnes a year,” says DPM Heng. 

That figure is around 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions from energy production, he adds. 

Singapore can also be a marketplace for high-quality carbon credits, and provide technology-enabled verification systems for carbon solutions, says DPM Heng. “These can then catalyse investment in carbon solutions in the region.”

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See: DPM Heng urges US-China cooperation, Singapore 'appalled' by violent crackdowns in Myanmar

A carbon credit is a permit that allows a company or nation to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. Each credit permits the emission of a mass equal to one tonne of emissions. 

Companies or nations are allotted a certain number of credits and may trade them to help balance total worldwide emissions.

Last December, Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon highlighted the need for more high-quality carbon credits and more cross-border trading for the world to arrive at a global price on carbon.

“Global demand for voluntary carbon credits is expected to grow 10 times over the next 10 years, from 100 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019 to over 1 billion tonnes in 2030,” said Menon. 

“But today, carbon credit markets are fragmented, liquidity is thin, and carbon prices vary across markets. We need global coordination to scale up the voluntary carbon credits markets.”

Green finance

Singapore can also promote sustainability in Asia through green finance, notes DPM Heng. The country accounts for over one-third of the sustainability-linked loan market in the Asia Pacific today.

“We can further harness the power of finance to promote cleaner and greener forms of energy and activities in the region,” he adds. 

See also: With Covid-19 and digital revolution, Asia’s economic growth 'not foreordained': DPM Heng

The government has also issued green bonds to support the financing of up to US$15 billion in public infrastructure projects. Announced in his Budget speech in February, the bonds will be an “important enabler”, said DPM Heng then, which will “attract green issuers, capital and investors, anchoring Singapore as a green finance hub”.

This issuance will then serve as a reference for the SGD corporate green bond market, including the standards and framework applied, and yields achieved.

See also: Climate change is a global emergency: DPM Heng

“Tackling climate change is a global effort. Singapore is ready to explore opportunities with you, to enable you to do well and also do good for the planet.”