Singapore finance minister says city-state could become a regional hub for green finance

  • The climate emergency poses an existential threat but also provides new opportunities for development, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong told Martin Soong as part of the virtual CNBC Evolve Global Summit.
  • Most of Singapore lies within 15 meters above the mean sea level, with around 30% less than 5 meters above the mean sea level — any additional increase in sea level caused by climate change poses an immediate threat to the country.
  • Singapore is investing in renewable energy and decarbonization technologies, and plans to build itself into a regional hub for green finance.

SINGAPORE — Singapore plans to invest more in building a new green economy, according to the city-state's Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

The climate emergency poses an existential threat but also provides new opportunities around sustainability, Wong told Martin Soong as part of the virtual CNBC Evolve Global Summit.

"We are investing in renewable energy. We are investing in decarbonization technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture. And, we are also looking at building Singapore as a hub for the region when it comes to green finance," Wong said.

The city-state, which is smaller than New York City, has been working for years to preserve its coastline from rising sea levels and other environmental damage.

Most of Singapore lies within 15 meters above the mean sea level, with around 30% less than 5 meters above the mean sea level. Any additional increase in sea level caused by climate change poses an immediate threat to the country.

When asked about the criteria used in making green investments, Wong said Singapore considers a wide range of different measures.

"We can look at things like carbon intensity, the efficiency of use of energy, a whole range of metrics that will allow us to ensure that the investments we are putting in are bona fide green investments," he said.

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Singapore state investor Temasek this year jointly committed $600 million with asset manager BlackRock to invest in firms working to reduce carbon emissions.

Last month, Asia's largest lender DBS Group jointly set up a new Singapore-based global exchange for high-quality carbon credits alongside Standard Chartered bank, Temasek and stock market operator Singapore Exchange.

World governments and private companies have launched ambitious carbon emission reduction targets to stem what many warn will be a climate disaster as sea levels and global temperatures rise.

In a landmark international treaty on climate change reached almost six years ago, known as the Paris Agreement, countries had agreed to try and "limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels." 2 degrees Celsius is around 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

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