Will the pandemic undermine Singapore's green development goal?
By Miro Lu
The pandemic-hit Singaporean economy faces its worst recession on record. It has also raised concerns that Singapore's green goal of phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 could potentially go off track.
Electric car sharing firm, BlueSG, had planned to reach 2,000 charging points by the end of last year. But pandemic-related restrictions and a manpower crunch due to COVID-19 cases amongst migrant workers disrupted their plans.
"We ended 2020 with 1,491 charging points across 375 instead of 2,000 points," Jenny Lim, Commercial & Network Director at BlueSG said. "During the circuit breaker, constructions were not possible at all, so we were only able to resume around 40 percent of our stations' construction."
Similar disruptions were witnessed in the installation of solar panels aimed towards meeting the republic's goal to quadruple its solar energy production by 2025.
However, some experts in the area are not concerned. They believe that Singapore will not only meet its clean energy targets – the green sector will also create jobs for those who lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic.
"We are limited by manpower, so therefore we can now upskill people who have lost their jobs to become the new green workers that can help accelerate the deployment of renewable technology and solar in particular," Dr. Sanjay Kuttan, a council member of Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore said.
In August last year, Singapore's Minister for Sustainability and Environment Grace Fu said that the green sector is expected to create 55,000 new and upgraded jobs in the next decade, with 4,000 in 2021 alone.
Some environmental consultants also noted that the pandemic has served as an opportunity for businesses to re-organize and re-strategize in favor of sustainability and de-carbonization.
"It has opened up many opportunities to create new business streams around sustainability," Carrie Johnson, Founding Director of Paja Consulting said. "We should very much consider sustainability as a way to cut costs as well. Many sustainability initiatives, for example, saving energy, reducing waste are cost cutting measures."