Singapore: A premier destination for supporting global carbon markets

Carbon credits are increasingly recognized as pivotal instruments in the global endeavor to achieve net-zero emissions. As the world grapples with the urgent need to mitigate climate change, Singapore has emerged as a leading destination for firms specializing in carbon services.

Singapore’s proactive stance on climate change, coupled with its supportive regulatory framework and forward-thinking initiatives, has positioned the city-state as an attractive hub for businesses operating in the carbon market sector. The government’s commitment to sustainability and its efforts to incentivize green investments have further bolstered Singapore’s appeal as a preferred location for companies looking to play a role in the global transition towards a low-carbon economy.

Against the backdrop of extreme weather events and environmental catastrophes that characterized 2023, including devastating storms, floods, and wildfires, the imperative to combat climate change has never been more pressing. With nations worldwide striving to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C and mitigate the impacts of climate change, Singapore’s strategic efforts to foster innovation and sustainability are increasingly resonating with businesses seeking to make a meaningful impact in addressing the climate crisis.

At the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, nearly 200 countries pledged to “transition away from fossil fuels” — considered a landmark decision. But this transition also poses challenges, especially for industries heavily reliant on fossil fuels or energy-intensive processes.

Building trust in carbon credits
Carbon credits form an essential piece of the puzzle in achieving the world’s climate goals. Attaining full decarbonization in hard-to-abate sectors requires time, as promising climate technologies like low-carbon hydrogen have yet to be commercially viable. As an innovative financing mechanism, carbon credits allow corporates to mobilize capital to support emission-reduction projects.

However, the world is grappling with ensuring reliable and high-quality carbon credits. Various investigations have raised serious concerns about their credibility, resulting in a collapse in their value, according to Reuters. Corporates have been approaching carbon markets more cautiously, given the potential reputational risks of buying credits.

Against this backdrop, countries such as Singapore are actively contributing to global efforts to instill trust in carbon credits, paving the way for broader adoption of sustainable practices worldwide. Singapore takes an additional step by advancing scientific research in nature-based solutions through the Centre for Nature-Based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore to expedite research and development efforts.

Increasing transparency in carbon markets is crucial and Singapore’s Climate Action Data Trust (CAD Trust), a collaborative venture involving the Government of Singapore, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and the World Bank underscores Singapore’s unwavering support. CAD Trust operates as an open-source metadata platform using blockchain technology to create a decentralized record of carbon market activity. Its primary objective is to prevent double counting, enhance high environment integrity and boost confidence in carbon credit data. The decision to anchor CAD Trust in Singapore stems from acknowledging that transparency and governance are rooted in its DNA.

Singapore is already a significant player in the world’s financial and commodities trading sectors, demonstrating its capability in handling complex market systems. This experience is invaluable in navigating the emerging challenges of disparate carbon markets.”
— Dinesh Babu, executive director of CAD 

CAD Trust sees Singapore’s proactive initiatives as demonstrating its profound dedication to sustainability. This commitment is evident in Singapore’s Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and agreements related to carbon credit projects across South Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Africa, aligning seamlessly with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In addition, Singapore is leading the way by collaborating with prominent carbon crediting programs such as Gold Standard and Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard. Together, they are crafting a playbook that defines the roles of national registries and crediting program registries, establishes protocols for information exchange, and outlines “harmonized approaches” to implement and comply with rules under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

In December 2023, Bhutan became the first national registry to fully integrate with the CAD Trust Metadata Layer, transforming the efficiency and transparency of the Himalayan kingdom’s climate mitigation efforts.

Why Singapore is a prime location for firms to support global carbon markets
Singapore has successfully attracted more than 100 carbon market and services players to establish the city-state as their home base in Southeast Asia. This not only strengthens the country’s standing as a regional node for carbon services, but also has the potential to spur the development of scalable, innovative solutions elsewhere in the world. At COP28, Singapore’s Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu reiterated the nation’s dedication to being a responsible global citizen.

It is especially important for Singapore to spark innovation, leverage technology, and rally stakeholders to achieve our climate goals,” she said.

The carbon credits ratings agency Calyx Global, which counts major corporations like Meta and Salesforce among its clients, has established a dedicated team in Singapore focusing on software and product development. The level of technically-oriented talent, along with the Singapore government’s commitment to climate and carbon reduction, makes Singapore a natural place for us to continue growing,” Duncan van Bergen, cofounder of Calyx Global, said.

Van Bergen acknowledges Singapore’s strategic position in a dynamic region that serves as a flourishing source of high-quality carbon credits. He points out the increasing demand for carbon services in Southeast Asia, where companies are facing the double challenge of adapting to new regulations and meeting rising consumer expectations for prominent corporate action on climate and sustainability.

Singapore’s expertise in carbon services and its trailblazing move implementing Southeast Asia’s first carbon tax in 2019, also appealed to Calyx Global. Van Bergen commends the country’s forward-thinking approach, such as establishing the base for the CAD Trust.

We have customers across Asia who want to participate in the carbon market but are hesitant because of potential reputational risk from accidentally purchasing a bad, low-integrity credit,” Van Bergen said. They come to our platform to get a deep understanding of any credit so they can be more confident when purchasing.

Singapore is not only fostering the growth of the industry, but it is also practicing participatory leadership — and that is going to turbocharge progress.” 
— Duncan van Bergen, cofounder of Calyx Global

Looking ahead
Singapore is committed to being a key global player in the ongoing battle against climate change by continuing to promote international collaboration in carbon credits and leading the development of global initiatives to establish trust in carbon markets. These endeavors are essential to ensure that the objectives outlined in the Paris Agreement remain within reach.

Find out more about how Singapore is leading the way in the carbon market. 

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