The ‘Getting to Net Zero’ Report was jointly launched on 15 May 2024 by the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities (LKYCIC) at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk (IPUR) at the National University of Singapore, and the Environmental Behavioural Sciences and Economics Research Unit (EBERU) of the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment. 

The report shares the findings from a collaborative study by LKYCIC, IPUR and EBERU conducted between August and September 2023 with over 2,300 Singapore residents, aged 15 and above. It sought to, among other aims, understand the respondents’ attitudes towards the nation’s Net Zero targets and its associated policies, as well as the actions they intend to take to support the Net Zero target.   

Key findings from the study 

  • Respondents are familiar with and understand the concept of Net Zero. However, only about 15% are aware of the national target to achieve Net Zero by 2050.  
  • When provided with information about the Net Zero target, 65% of respondents supported the current target, and a further 17% supported a more ambitious timeline to reach Net Zero. This was despite the current low levels of awareness where only 15% of the respondents knew of the national commitment to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. 
  • People are already taking actions which are aligned with Net Zero and intended to strengthen their efforts.  
  • Older respondents are on average more likely to perform low-cost and high-effort actions, while younger respondents are more open to lifestyle changes.  
  • Respondents express strong support for Government actions to achieve Net Zero. 
  • There is a high level of trust in Government communications which present opportunities for government agencies to promote higher-impact climate actions. Findings further support this by showing that actions encouraged by the government have higher levels of acceptability and adoption. 

 

“Every individual plays a pivotal role in propelling Singapore towards our national Net Zero goal, which complements the efforts of both government and businesses. As the study shows, Singaporeans are already on board and are taking many environmentally friendly actions. But there are opportunities for more of us to further reduce our carbon footprint through our lifestyle choices, in ways that are aligned with social, environmental values.”
Government Chief Sustainability Officer, Mr Lim Tuang Liang 

 

Welcome Remarks and Keynote 

Welcoming the attendees to the event, Prof Cheong Koon Hean, Chair of LKYCIC, underscored the importance of  human-centricity in policymaking, and hence the need to examine how the public can be a part of Singapore’s journey towards Net Zero. Fittingly, the study undertaken was  not only human-centric but also highly interdisciplinary, which aligns closely with LKYCIC’s research philosophy. Alluding to the study’s findings, Prof Cheong shared that there is cause for optimism, as individuals are increasingly cognisant and willing to embrace the Net Zero movement.  

 

In the keynote address, Prof Low Teck Seng, Senior Vice President (Sustainability and Resilience) of NUS, highlighted how Singapore’s strategic investment in scientific and technology research has helped us tackle key urban development challenges such as water security. This approach will also serve to help us develop the requisite knowledge and understanding of the climate challenges that Singapore face and how we can prepare the country to reach our Net Zero target.  

 

“Despite the barriers, people are ready to make some lifestyle changes to contribute towards Singapore’s collective Net Zero goal. The findings highlight remaining gaps in the knowledge, attitudes and practices that need to be bridged in order to mobilise Singapore’s citizenry to take climate action. This collaboration between LKYCIC, IPUR and MSE demonstrates how behavioural research contributes towards better policy design and communication.” 
Professor Cheong Koon Hean, Chair of LKYCIC 

 

Panel Discussion 1: ‘Getting to Net Zero’ 

Moderated by Dr Harvey Neo, Professorial Research Fellow at LKYCIC, the panel comprising of Dr Chi Hoong Leong, Lead of EBERU at MSE, Dr Olivia Jensen, Deputy Director at IPUR, and Dr Samuel Chng, Senior Research Fellow at LKYCIC, delved into the gap between people’s professed intentions and actual actions in reducing their carbon footprints, attributing it to social pressure which insinuates the effectiveness of cumulative actions in altering social norms. Despite Singapore’s smaller absolute carbon footprint compared to larger nations, panellists stressed the importance of shared global responsibility in committing to carbon footprint reduction. The discussion also underscored the significance of effective communication of research findings to the general public, and the need for individual actions to catalyse societal change towards environmentally responsible lifestyles. 

 

Panel Discussion 2: Engaging Communities on Net Zero

In the second segment moderated by Dr Samuel Chng, panellists Mr Akbar Makani, Regional lead at Ismaili CIVIC-SEA, Mr Low Min Chye, South West CDC District Councillor, and Ms Rachel Wong, Climate Advocate, discussed the challenges of changing social norms to increase the uptake of environmentally sustainable behaviours, highlighting the importance of tailoring communications of relevant info to different segments of the community. Sharing examples of various initiatives that string together environmental consciousness with community building, they exemplified the potential of interweaving sustainable practices in existing programmes and through which, galvanising individual behavioural change in the community. The discussion rounded off with a sharing of their personal efforts to reduce carbon footprints in their daily lives – including mindful food consumption and using public transport – illustrating the little steps we can take towards a Net Zero lifestyle. 

 

“The study demonstrated that Singaporeans are keen to get more information about how to reduce their carbon footprint. Now, the research community needs to strengthen the evidence base around personal carbon emissions of Singapore residents to make sure that the guidance given to people is grounded in science. We also need to design ways of conveying climate information effectively without overwhelming people or undermining their will to act.”  
Dr Olivia Jensen, IPUR Deputy Director 

The full report on ‘Getting to Net Zero’ can be accessed here. 

Click these links to explore LKYCIC’s research in Urban Environmental Sustainability and Urban Psychology. 

 

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