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TERRENUS ENERGY

Sustainability

Climate change is driving 2022 extreme heat and flooding

Cracked and dry earth is seen in the wide riverbed of the Loire River near the Anjou-Bretagne bridge as a heatwave hits Europe, in Ancenis-Saint-Gereon, France, Jun 13, 2022. Image: Reuters/Stephane Mahe

From Reuters

LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) – Extreme weather events – from scorching heatwaves to unusually heavy downpours – have caused widespread upheaval across the globe this year, with thousands of people killed and millions more displaced.

In the last three months, monsoon rains unleashed disastrous flooding in Bangladesh, and brutal heatwaves seared parts of South Asia and Europe. Meanwhile, prolonged drought has left millions on the brink of famine in East Africa.

Much of this, scientists say, is what’s expected from climate change.

On Tuesday, a team of climate scientists published a study in the journal Environmental Research: Climate. The researchers scrutinized the role climate change has played in individual weather events over the past two decades.

The findings confirm warnings of how global warming will change our world – and also make clear what information is missing.

For heatwaves and extreme rainfall, “we find we have a much better understanding of how the intensity of these events is changing due to climate change,” said study co-author Luke Harrington, a climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington.

Less understood, however, is how climate change influences wildfires and drought.

For their review paper, scientists drew upon hundreds of “attribution” studies, or research that aims to calculate how climate change affected an extreme event using computer simulations and weather observations.

There are also large data gaps in many low- and middle-income countries, making it harder to understand what’s happening in those regions, said co-author Friederike Otto, one of the climatologists leading the international research collaboration World Weather Attribution (WWA).

HEATWAVES

With heatwaves, it’s highly probable that climate change is making things worse.

“Pretty much all heatwaves across the world have been made more intense and more likely by climate change,” said study co-author Ben Clarke, an environmental scientist at the University of Oxford.

In general, a heatwave that previously had a 1 in 10 chance of occurring is now nearly three times as likely — and peaking at temperatures around 1 degree Celsius higher – than it would have been without climate change.

An April heatwave that saw the mercury climb above 50C (122 Fahrenheit) in India and Pakistan, for example, was made 30 times more likely by climate change, according to WWA. 

Heatwaves across the Northern Hemisphere in June – from Europe to the United States – highlight “exactly what our review paper shows … the frequency of heatwaves has gone up so much,” Otto said.

RAINFALL AND FLOODING

Last week, China saw extensive flooding, following heavy rains. At the same time, Bangladesh was hit with a flood-triggering deluge.

Overall, episodes of heavy rainfall are becoming more common and more intense. That’s because warmer air holds more moisture, so storm clouds are “heavier” before they eventually break.

Still, the impact varies by region, with some areas not receiving enough rain, the study said.

DROUGHT

Scientists have a harder time figuring out how climate change affects drought.

Some regions have suffered ongoing dryness. Warmer temperatures in the U.S. West, for example, are melting the snowpack faster and driving evaporation, the study said.

And while East African droughts have yet to be linked directly to climate change, scientists say the decline in the spring rainy season is tied to warmer waters in the Indian Ocean. This causes rains to fall rapidly over the ocean before reaching the Horn. 

WILDFIRE

Heatwaves and drought conditions are also worsening wildfires, particularly megafires – those that burn more than 100,000 acres.

Fire raged across the U.S. state of New Mexico in April, after a controlled burn set under “much drier conditions than recognized” got out of control, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fires burned 341,000 acres.

TROPICAL CYCLONES

On a global scale, the frequency of storms hasn’t increased. However, cyclones are now more common in the central Pacific and North Atlantic, and less so in the Bay of Bengal, western North Pacific and southern Indian Ocean, the study said.

There is also evidence that tropical storms are becoming more intense and even stalling overland, where they can deliver more rain on a single area.

So while climate change might not have made Cyclone Batsirai any more likely to have formed in February, it probably made it more intense, capable of destroying more than 120,000 homes when it hit Madagascar. 

Author: Gloria Dickie

NUS students build Singapore’s first electric race car; it goes from 0 to 100kmh in 3.9 seconds

From left: Muhammad Nazirul Syahmi Bin Abdullah, Muhammad Irfan bin Zakaria and Joven Thong Jie Wen with the R22e. Image: Lianhe Zaobo

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Engineering students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have built the country’s first electric race car, which can go from 0kmh to 100kmh in 3.9 seconds.

That is the acceleration recorded by some electric vehicles (EVs), including Tesla and Audi models.

The R22e, which was officially unveiled by Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat at the NUS Kent Ridge campus on Tuesday (June 28), can hit a maximum speed of 125.4kmh.

Fourth-year mechanical engineering student Muhammad Nazirul Syahmi, who was part of the team from the College of Design and Engineering, said they had little reference resources to lean on at the start.

“Many of our simulations and tests had to be created from scratch,” said the 24-year-old.

“As we did not have experience with high-voltage systems and EV technologies, we approached companies in the local industry to conduct workshops for us and self-studied under the guidance of NUS teaching staff, to learn how to handle electrical systems.”

Students of the college have built a total of 19 internal combustion engine race cars over the past 21 years.

But the R22e, which the students spent 18 months working on, is their first EV race car.

Since the inauguration of the NUS Formula Society of Automotive Engineering (FSAE) Race Car Project in 2001, students from the college have been constructing formula-style race cars for the FSAE Michigan competition.

The inter-varsity event is held annually in the United States.

Formula-style cars have a single-seat with an open cockpit and open wheels.

Earlier this month, the team of 26 students entered the electric FSAE race car for static events at the competition.

According to the vehicle specifications provided by the team, the car can produce 80 kilowatts of power, and with its acceleration and top speed, can surpass its internal combustion engine predecessors’ performance.

NUS FSAE project adviser, Professor Seah Kar Heng, said the rapidly growing global electric car market made it crucial for students to be equipped with knowledge about electric car technologies.

“As a school, we have to be in sync with the direction that the world is heading in, to move towards clean and green energy,” said Prof Seah, who has been guiding engineering students in the project since 2001.

“I wanted the students to be aware of that, and working on this electric race car is a very good start for them.”

In a speech at Tuesday’s event, Mr Chee congratulated the team and said the launch was timely and mirrors Singapore’s own effort to electrify its vehicle population.

“Our transition to EVs will bring new and exciting opportunities in the new green economy,” he said.

“Engineering students can look forward to jobs and training in new areas, such as EV software diagnostics, battery and charging infrastructure.”

Author: Deepanraj Ganesan

Singapore’s water tech companies, research institutes make waves worldwide

Wateroam’s portable water filter technology has been exported to 38 countries, including Nepal, Malaysia and Indonesia. Image: Wateroam

SINGAPORE – Water tech innovations and infrastructure that have helped water-scarce Singapore meet its daily water demands are now making waves worldwide, bringing clean water and sanitation to communities around the globe.

The Republic is a leading global hydrohub with an ecosystem of more than 200 water companies and 25 water research centres spanning the entire water value chain, including water supply, used water management and stormwater management, such as flood protection measures, said national water agency PUB.

Some local companies have also been commercialising their solutions in other parts of the world.

Wateroam, a company founded in 2014, has developed portable water filters to deliver clean water to countries as part of emergency response and humanitarian relief for disaster-hit areas.

The technology, which is designed to be as simple as possible, has been exported to 38 countries, including Nepal, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Non-profit organisation Lien Foundation launched the Lien Environmental Fellowship in 2010 to equip Asian scientists and researchers from selected regional countries with the skills and resources needed to tackle challenges related to water and sanitation, as well as renewable energy projects in their home countries.

Successful applicants receive mentorship from the Nanyang Technological University’s Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (Newri), where they receive technical and financial support to transform their ideas into viable solutions.

A total of 18 projects have been administered in nine countries as at May this year.

Lien Foundation chief executive Lee Poh Wah told The Straits Times that each project has to be tailored to the unique challenges of each community and the solutions have to be long-term, sustainable ones that have garnered local support and engagement.

Recently, the Lien Environmental Fellowship programme embarked on a new project to sample the water quality of Kathmandu’s heavily polluted Bagmati River to determine the source and extent of the pollution.

There has been continuous dumping of solid waste, domestic sewage and industrial waste in the river.

Noting that plastic pollution in the water was immense, Newri executive director Shane Snyder said that a possible solution could involve a plastic upcycling technology, with plastic waste converted to diesel fuel to alleviate the high fuel costs that Nepal is currently experiencing.

He added that plastic waste – when left in water – can cause toxic chemicals to leach, which can be harmful for the human body.

Freelance climate change and senior watershed expert Madhukar Upadhya from Nepal, who was not involved in the project, said the idea was great, as it could provide jobs to those collecting plastic waste and incentivise households to save their plastic waste to sell it.

The Fellowship programme also saw some of Singapore’s best innovations – such as its membrane technology – benefit less-privileged communities.

For instance, Myanmar’s Mandalay city had extremely hard water – full of calcium content, as well as E. coli bacteria and other pathogens.

“We knew that the nanofiltration method (which is typically used to soften and disinfect water) would be the way to go – but there was no such system available,” said Professor Snyder.

However, local water tech company Century Water, picked up the intellectual property rights from NTU and the National University of Singapore – which also does water tech research – and installed a membrane nanofiltration system there at a low cost.

“The operations are still going strong, despite the coup there and even amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.

Mr Lee said that having clean water is the very foundation for health and human development.

“Without clean water, no country could ever escape poverty… and just as Singapore has become a global water hub, we have also benefited from foreign investment during the early days. So this is our way of paying it forward.”

Author: Cheryl Tan

Agrivoltaics for broccoli, cabbage

Image: Chonnam National University

Scientists in South Korea have combined PV generation with vegetable farming and have found that solar array shading provides favorable results for crops such as broccoli and cabbage.

From pv magazine

A research team at Chonnam National University in South Korea has looked at how solar power generation could be combined with broccoli and cabbage cultivation. The team found that the shading provided by a PV facility could improve the quality of crops.

Broccoli and cabbage need to be grown in places that receive full sun, which means between six and eight hours of sunlight per day, or very light shade. A lack of sunlight could result in thin, leggy plants.

“Because of its low light saturation points, broccoli may be a suitable crop to maximize famer’s profits and energy security through an agrivoltaic system,” the scientists said. “However, to date, there is limited information on the performance of brassica crops in agrivoltaics.”

The scientists built their agrivoltaic system with bifacial modules at a height of 3.3 meters. They achieved an average power generation per day of 127 kWh during the testing period. They claimed that their approach demonstrated the technical and economic viability of the proposed agrivoltaic solution.

“We found that the taste and the quality of the broccoli were not lower than those of a reference field without the solar array,” they said. “We also found no significant change in functional ingredients and metabolites that affect taste.”

The PV installation caused a significant reduction in the light hitting the crops, which in turn resulted in an improvement of their color.

“The color of broccoli is an important property that goes beyond appearance quality and is involved in consumers’ desire to purchase,” the scientists said.

They said that presence of the PV system reduced the agricultural yield by around 20%, compared to the reference field without solar. However, they said that the income generated by the solar array could more than compensate for such losses.

“The annual economic benefit from solar power was 10.4 times more than the broccoli production benefits,” the scientists said. “Therefore, farmer benefits will increase as they are cultivated in agrivoltaics compared to open field.”

The researchers presented their findings in “Agrivoltaic Systems Enhance Farmers’ Profits through Broccoli Visual Quality and Electricity Production,” which was recently published in Agronomy.

“In terms of land use efficiency, agrivoltaic is a good means of producing energy and food in Korea, which is a highly mountainous area,” they said.

Author: Emiliano Bellini

Acra, SGX RegCo set up committee on sustainability reporting for S’pore firms

Acra and SGX RegCo are developing a road map for wider implementation of sustainability reporting for Singapore companies. ST Photo: Lim Yaohui

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Companies in Singapore may soon have a clearer picture of how to carry out sustainability reporting, with a committee set up to discuss the suitability of implementing international standards here.

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) and Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) have formed a sustainability reporting advisory committee to provide guidance on a road map for companies incorporated here.

“As part of its work, the committee will provide inputs on the suitability of international sustainability reporting standards for implementation in Singapore,” said Acra and SGX on Tuesday (June 21).

Acra and SGX RegCo are developing a road map for wider implementation of sustainability reporting for Singapore companies beyond those listed on the local bourse.

SGX RegCo has mandated sustainability reporting for listed companies since 2016 and climate reporting from financial year 2022 on a comply-or-explain basis.

Climate reporting will be mandatory for issuers in the financial, energy, and agriculture, food and forest products industries from FY2023. Listed companies from the materials and buildings, and transportation industries will also be subject to mandatory reporting from their FY2024.

“The growing interest in environment, social and governance (ESG) issues globally has led to a call to provide greater transparency and assurance on companies’ ESG-related information which investors and other stakeholders can incorporate into their decision-making,” said Acra and SGX on Tuesday.

The new committee is chaired by Ms Esther An, chief sustainability officer of property developer City Developments.

Its 13 members include other chief sustainability officers, representatives from financial institutions, institutional and retail investors, sustainability reporting professionals and academics.

Ms An said effective ESG integration and disclosure are critical to accelerating global efforts to build a greener and more resilient future.

She added that the committee’s efforts will complement Acra and SGX RegCo’s initiatives to rally corporates and stakeholders to contribute to the Singapore Green Plan 2030 and the global agenda on sustainable development.

Author: Prisca Ang

Solar panels based on biosourced materials

A recycled glass panel on the front and a linen composite on the back. Image: GD

French solar energy institute INES has developed new PV modules with thermoplastics and natural fibers sourced in Europe, such as flax and basalt. The scientists aim to reduce the environmental footprint and weight of solar panels, while improving recycling.

From pv magazine France

Researchers at France’s National Solar Energy Institute (INES) – a division of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) – are developing solar modules featuring new bio-based materials in the front and rear sides.

“As the carbon footprint and the life cycle analysis have now become essential criteria in the choice of photovoltaic panels, the sourcing of materials will become a crucial element in Europe in the next few years,” said Anis Fouini, the director of CEA-INES, in an interview with pv magazine France.

Aude Derrier, the research project’s coordinator, said her colleagues have looked at the various materials that already exist, to find one that could allow module manufacturers to produce panels that improve performance, durability, and cost, while lowering the environmental impact. The first demonstrator consists of heterojunction (HTJ) solar cells integrated into an all-composite material.

“The front side is made of a fiberglass-filled polymer, which provides transparency,” Derrier said. “The rear side is made of composite based on thermoplastics in which a weaving of two fibers, flax and basalt, has been integrated, which will provide mechanical strength, but also better resistance to humidity.”

The flax is sourced from northern France, where the entire industrial ecosystem is already present. The basalt is sourced elsewhere in Europe and is woven by an industrial partner of INES. This reduced the carbon footprint by 75 grams of CO2 per watt, compared to a reference module of the same power. The weight was also optimized and is less than 5 kilograms per square meter.

“This module is aimed at the rooftop PV and building integration,” said Derrier. “The advantage is that it is naturally black in color, without the need for a backsheet. In terms of recycling, thanks to thermoplastics, which can be remelted, the separation of the layers is also technically simpler.”

The module can be made without adapting current processes. Derrier said the idea is to transfer the technology to manufacturers, without additional investment.

“The only imperative is to have freezers to store the material and not to start the resin cross-linking process, but most manufacturers today use prepreg and are already equipped for this,” she said.

The INES scientists also looked into the solar glass supply issues encountered by all photovoltaic players and worked on the reuse of tempered glass.

“We worked on the second life of glass and developed a module made up of reused 2.8 mm glass that comes from an old module,” said Derrier. “We have also used a thermoplastic encapsulant which does not require cross-linking, which will therefore be easy to recycle, and a thermoplastic composite with flax fiber for resistance.”

The basalt-free rear face of the module has a natural linen color, which could be aesthetically interesting for architects in terms of facade integration, for example. In addition, the INES calculation tool showed a 10% reduction in the carbon footprint.

“It is now imperative to question the photovoltaic supply chains,” said Jouini. “With the help of the Rhône-Alpes region within the framework of the International Development Plan, we therefore went looking for players outside the solar sector to find new thermoplastics and new fibers. We also thought about the current lamination process, which is very energy intensive.”

Between the pressurization, the pressing and the cooling phase, the lamination usually lasts between 30 and 35 minutes, with an operating temperature of around 150 C to 160 C.

“But for modules that increasingly incorporate eco-designed materials, it is necessary to transform thermoplastics at around 200 C to 250 C, knowing that HTJ technology is sensitive to heat and must not exceed 200 C,” said Derrier.

The research institute is teaming up with France-based induction thermocompression specialist Roctool, to reduce cycle times and make shapes according to the needs of customers. Together, they have developed a module with a rear face made of polypropylene-type thermoplastic composite, to which recycled carbon fibers have been integrated. The front side is made of thermoplastics and fiberglass.

“Roctool’s induction thermocompression process makes it possible to heat the two front and rear plates quickly, without having to reach 200 C at the core of the HTJ cells,” Derrier said.

The company claims the investment is lower and the process could achieve a cycle time of just a few minutes, while using less energy. The technology is aimed at composite manufacturers, to give them the possibility of producing parts of different shapes and sizes, while integrating lighter and more durable materials.

Authors: Gwénaëlle Deboutte and Marie Beyer

‘The villain is the framework’: crisis an opportunity to review regulation requisites

Gas and coal generators’ role in exacerbating the unfolding energy crisis in Australia has been harshly criticised, but Dufty points out companies are simply following the logic of profit within a framework that makes such practices possible. Image: Bluescope

Australia’s energy crisis affords it an intricate, if painful, look at exactly where and how our current electricity regulations no longer fit their purpose. According to analyst Gavin Dufty, now is the time to retrain our eyes on the prize: designing a new framework suitable for the future decentralised system. “But everybody needs to put their guns back in their holsters,” Dufty tells pv magazine Australia.

From pv magazine Australia

With Australia’s National Electricity Market spot market now suspended, an extraordinary move from the market operator yesterday to cool a fiery situation, the emphasis now needs to be on what can be learned from the meltdown, says Gavin Dufty, an energy analyst with St Vincent de Paul.

“Here’s an opportunity,” he tells pv magazine Australia. “It’s about recasting regulatory framework so it’s fit for purpose.”

“The world is watching us,” he adds. “We actually get to be leaders.”

“It’s not just one tweak. Everything needs to move together in concert to create the new orchestra or architecture for the future energy market because this one is not going to work, and it’s not working.”

Our current regulatory framework, built for a centralised fossil fuel system, uses a top down approach. Now, as electricity is increasingly generated on rooftops and in paddocks, the system needs to reflect this shift from a handful of mega generators to a collection of small technologies. That is, it needs to be designed for the bottom up future.

In the days days, the operator (AEMO) and ministers have come out against gas and coal generators’ role in exacerbating the situation, and therefore jeopardising an essential service, Dufty is quick to point out the companies are simply following a logic made accessible to them.  “They’re doing what they’ve been told to do for a hundred years”: maximise profits.

“Maybe the villain is the framework,” he posits.

Under Australia’s current framework, he says, the cost of the crisis will eventually wash up with consumers, but this doesn’t have to be the case. “Where it falls depends on how governments intervene,” he says. “In unusual times, you probably need unusual transition methods.”

He believes the electricity system is moving from a goods market to service market, which means companies operating within it should have a duty of care. This is especially true since the market delivers an essential service.

Moreover, Dufty says there needs to be a laser focus on consumer households and delivering value to them.

“Follow the money,” he says, “in the next 10 years, if you have five million Australian households investing in electricity assets like PV, EVs [electric vehicles], batteries and the like, that’s $250 billion worth of energy assets installed behind the metre.”

“The investment in energy is going to happen and those consumers will want value for their investment.”

The role of industry and the framework which governs it is to make sure that value is realised.

Solaray Energy says its inquiries and battery sales have surged since the federal election in May. Image: Solaray Energy

St Vincent de Paul were one of the primary proponents of two-way pricing, which quickly came to be dubbed a ‘sun tax’ and fiercely criticised. Be that as it may, the vision is not without merit – especially when taking into account future technologies beyond solar. The Australian Energy Market Commission agreed, heralding in the change last year.

The changes, for Dufty, are imperative because they shine a light on the other side of the electricity grid balancing equation, the side often left out of the discussion: load flexibility.

Creating and compelling load flexibility, that is changing when electricity is used, is the other side of the generation drama. As others have pointed out before him, jamming more solar into the situation simply won’t work. The penetrations are already so high that much of the energy generated in the day is simply going to waste and causing greater imbalances in the night.

“There isn’t one magical solution,” he says, “diversity is the key here.”

Dufty is adamant what’s good for individual households and what is good for society and the larger electricity network don’t need to compete. But to ensure those two forces aren’t mutually exclusive, the regulatory framework needs to change drastically.

“This is not incremental change. We might have step by step,” he says, but in the end it must amount to a full redesign, especially in terms of consumer protections.

Likewise complementary frameworks like the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) need to be reviewed to ensure they remain fit for purpose as well, Dufty says.

Author: Bella Peacock

EV battery can reach 98% charge in less than 10 minutes

Image: Enovix

Enovix has shown that its US-made silicon anode lithium-ion batteries can charge from 0% to 80% in just five minutes.

From pv magazine USA

California-based Enovix said that it has demonstrated the ability of electric vehicle battery cells to charge from 0% to 80% capacity in as little as 5.2 minutes, and above 98% charge capacity in less than 10 minutes.

The cells also surpass 1,000 cycles, while retaining 93% of their capacity. These achievements have shattered the US Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) goal of achieving 80% charge in 15 minutes.

Other goals for USABC at the cell level include a usable energy density of 550 Wh/L, a survival temperature range of -40 C to 66 C, and a cost of $75/kWh at an annual output volume of 250,000 units. A full set of USABC targets can be found here.

The company demonstrated the fast-charge ability in its 0.27 Ah EV cells in its silicon lithium-ion batteries, which it said contain a novel 3D architecture and constraint system. The cells contain a 100% active silicon anode. Enovix said the material has long been heralded as an important technology in the next generation of battery anodes.

Silicon anodes can theoretically store more than twice as much lithium than the graphite anode that is used in nearly all Li-ion batteries today (1,800 mAh/cubic centimeter vs. 800 mAh/cubic centimeter).

“Fast charge capability can accelerate mass adoption of EVs and we’ve been able to demonstrate a level of performance that meets and exceeds many OEM roadmaps,” said Harrold Rust, co-founder, CEO and president of Enovix. “EV manufacturers are in pursuit of batteries that support longer range, while the public and private sectors work to increase EV driver access to fast chargers. We’re proud to support these goals to help electrify the automotive industry and demonstrate our batteries are an exciting option to power long-range, fast-charging EVs.”

“Our unique architecture enables a battery that not only charges in less than 10 minutes, but also maintains high cycle life,” said Ashok Lahiri, the CTO of Enovix. “We can improve battery performance today using the same chemistries, but more importantly, we can accelerate the industry’s roadmap.”

Lahiri spoke this week at the 12th International Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC) Europe in Mainz, Germany. His presentation on silicon-anode lithium-ion batteries for EV applications will provide an update on the company’s EV program. The slide deck can be found here.

Author: Ryan Kennedy

WTO goes green as climate change impacts trade

The WTO is staging its first meeting of trade ministers in nearly five years and environmental issues are rocketing up the agenda. Image: EPA-EFE

From AFP

GENEVA (AFP) – The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) boss insisted on Monday (June 13) that turning trade green was now urgent business, with the WTO putting climate change at the heart of its negotiations.

The WTO is staging its first meeting of trade ministers in nearly five years and environmental issues are rocketing up the agenda at the global trade body.

The European Union on Monday teamed up with Ecuador, Kenya and New Zealand to launch a new Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate, in the expectation that other countries will join the forum.

And diverse nations are already banding together in other groups to try and find mutual ways forward on topics such environmentally sustainable trade and tackling plastic pollution.

“Greening trade is urgent: climate change isn’t waiting,” WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said after attending the new coalition’s launch on day two of the WTO ministerial conference in Geneva.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said the new group would try to tackle the climate crisis in a fair manner through trade policy.

“Trade has to be part of the solution. It is an engine of growth that can create new green jobs, reduce poverty and support the transition to climate-neutral economies,” he told the group’s launch.

Children’s future

Its ministers want to boost trade, and trade policies, in support of sustainable development and the 2015 Paris Agreement climate goals.

A first meeting is planned for July to work out the coalition’s next steps.

Climate change is not strictly within the WTO’s purview but the organisation – which is looking to revive its importance on the world stage – wants to make sustainable development and environmental protection among its core objectives.

“We need to profoundly change how we produce and consume things if we want our children to have a sustainable, peaceful and comfortable life in 50 years’ time,” said WTO deputy director-general Zhang Xiangchen.

The WTO traditionally reaches agreements by consensus, and some of its 164 members form groups on various issues to try and find ways forward, with climate change being no exception.

Several dozen WTO member countries pledged in late December to intensify discussions on plastic pollution, fossil fuel subsidies and environmentally sustainable trade, in a move hailed as historic by Mr Okonjo-Iweala.

Fossil fuel subsidies ‘insane’

Australia’s WTO ambassador George Mina, who co-chairs the Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution, said 72 countries were now on board.

Mr Mina said countries had failed to tackle major environmental problems through the WTO, but in recent months, “we’ve seen a significant elevation in the profile, energy and focus” on such issues.

“Trade policy has to be a part of the solution on the environment and climate change response,” he said.

Co-chair Li Chenggang, China’s WTO ambassador, added: “Plastic is an important basic raw material but the leakage of plastic waste in the natural environment has brought environmental pollution and harm.”

At a press conference on fossil fuel subsidies, Iceland’s Foreign Minister Thordis Kolbrun R. Gylfadottir said renewable energy was “good business”, making economic and environmental sense.

“The fact that global subsidies for fossils fuels exceed those for renewable energy should come as a wake-up call for all of us,” she said.

Meanwhile New Zealand’s trade minister Damien O’Connor said subsidies at a time when countries needed to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels “seems somewhat contradictory, if not insane”.

3 ways to speed up Singapore’s transition towards a green future: Grace Fu

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu highlighted three ways Singapore can accelerate sustainability and climate action. Image: ST FILE

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – The Republic must keep up the international momentum in addressing the threat of climate change amid pressing priorities such as the Covid-19 pandemic, rising inflation and geostrategic challenges, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Tuesday (June 7).

Speaking at the gala dinner of Temasek’s annual sustainability conference – Ecosperity Week – Ms Fu highlighted three ways the nation can accelerate sustainability and climate action.

1. Catalyse action towards inclusive transition

As the carbon tax is progressively raised to $50 to $80 per tonne by 2030, the revenue will support the transition to a greener economy through incentivising low-carbon solutions and cushioning the impact on businesses and households.

Businesses increasingly recognise the opportunities in the circular, low-carbon economy, while the choices of individuals can also play a role, said Ms Fu.

“Individual action may feel insignificant and is indeed insufficient. However, our collective actions will enable us to achieve our ultimate common goals,” she added.

If consumers avoid disposables, buy locally farmed vegetables and fish, and choose energy-efficient appliances, for instance, these choices will create ripple effects that accelerate the development of more sustainable products.

From the middle of next year, large supermarkets will implement a disposable bag charge, which aims to encourage the public to use reusable bags and be more judicious in their use of disposables.

2. Unlock more sustainable solutions

Technologies and solutions to decarbonise still remain out of reach or are not yet commercially viable, but industry collaborations can bring about new solutions, said Ms Fu.

Last month, Singapore joined the First Movers Coalition with eight other nations, which will allow companies to harness purchasing power and supply chains to create early markets for innovative low-carbon technologies.

This serves as a launchpad for them to reach commercial scale and could open doors for local businesses to innovate with like-minded partners.

Ms Fu also cited the Jurong Island Circular Economy study last year, which analysed the energy, water and chemical waste from 51 companies on the island.

The study has provided insights on how to reduce resource use and boost Jurong Island’s competitiveness and sustainability.

A new research institute focusing on how to shrink the carbon footprint of the industrial sector – responsible for about 60 per cent of the country’s total emissions – was also set up on Jurong Island earlier this year.

One focus area of the Institute of Sustainability for Chemicals, Energy and Environment is on reducing or removing planet-warming emissions.

This can be done through carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies – which aim to capture greenhouse gases released from industrial processes before they reach the atmosphere, and then either convert them into useful substances, such as chemicals or store them underground.

The institute was set up by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, which is working with industrial partners and other government agencies to study and plan for the development of a carbon capture and utilisation translational test bed on Jurong Island.

3. Specialise in green finance and carbon services

Ms Fu noted that Singapore is highly disadvantaged by its lack of natural renewable energy sources, as it does not have large rivers to draw hydropower or vast lands for wind turbines.

But with its reputation as an international financial hub, it is well placed to support countries with untapped natural renewable energy sources through the trading of carbon credits, she added.

For example, polluting companies can buy carbon credits from a renewable energy plant to offset and compensate for their own emissions.

And with the Article 6 rulebook on international carbon markets finalised at the United Nations Climate Change Conference last year, Singapore can help propel the growth of green finance and carbon services in the region, said Ms Fu.

“This will enable businesses to access the capital they need to innovate, operationalise, and scale their green projects,” she added.

In March, Singapore and Indonesia inked a partnership, where they will collaborate on carbon pricing and markets, and also explore financing solutions in carbon credit projects.

Author: Shabana Begum