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Green Bonds

Climate change is a global existential challenge. Singapore, being a low-lying city state, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Singapore is fully committed to the global climate action, and will play its part as a responsible member of the international community.

In 2021, Singapore launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 (“Green Plan”), a whole- of-nation movement to advance the national agenda on sustainable development. The Green Plan charts concrete targets over the next 10 years, strengthens Singapore’s commitments under the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Paris Agreement, and positions us to achieve our long-term aspiration of net zero emissions.

The green transition will be a new engine for jobs creation and growth across the economy. This includes the greening of traditional sectors such as aviation, energy, and tourism, as well as the emergence of new sectors such as green finance, carbon services and low-carbon technologies. The Government will work in partnership with the private sector to provide an enabling environment for businesses and workers to take advantage of these new growth opportunities.

To support Singapore’s decarbonisation efforts and deepen Singapore’s green finance market, the Government announced at Budget 2022 that the public sector will take the lead by issuing up to S$35 billion of green bonds by 2030. This will include bonds issued by the Government as well as Statutory Boards.

These public sector green bond issuances will serve as reference for the corporate green bond market, deepen market liquidity for green bonds, and attract green issuers, capital, and investors. This paves the way for greater private sector green finance activity.

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The Government has published a national Green Bond Framework (“Framework”), which lays the foundation for the issuance of green bonds by the Government under the Significant Infrastructure Government Loan Act 2021 (“SINGA”), and serves as a reference for Statutory Boards’ respective green bond frameworks.

 

Key Features of the Singapore Green Bond Framework

The Framework is aligned with international principles and market practices. It is developed and structured in alignment with the core components and key recommendations of the International Capital Market Association (“ICMA”) Green Bond Principles 2021 and the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum ASEAN Green Bond Standards 2018.

Use of Proceeds: The Framework lists eight categories of green projects that may be financed by the Singapore sovereign green bonds.

  1. Renewable Energy

  2. Energy Efficiency

  3. Green Buildings

  4. Clean Transportation

  5. Sustainable Water and Wastewater Management

  6. Pollution Prevention, Control and Circular Economy

  7. Climate Change Adaptation

  8. Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and Land Use

Project Evaluation and Selection: A Green Bond Steering Committee (“GBSC”) undertakes key decisions related to the green bonds issued under this Framework, including the evaluation and selection of projects. The GBSC is chaired by the Second Minister for Finance, and comprises senior government representatives from various government bodies1.

Management of Proceeds: The Government will deploy the net sovereign green bond proceeds to only GBSC-approved projects, and will strive to fully allocate the funds within 2 to 3 years of issuance. The unallocated proceeds pending allocation will be held in cash or invested in other short-term liquidity instruments.

Reporting: Until full allocation and in case of material changes, the Government will commit to annual allocation reporting, and impact reporting on environmental benefits and, where possible, social co-benefits of the Eligible Green Expenditures. This is to provide timely and updated information to investors and other interested parties.

External Review: In line with market practice, Sustainalytics, an independent ESG research, ratings and analytics firm, has provided a Second-Party Opinion on the Framework. Sustainalytics has independently assessed the Framework to be aligned with the ICMA Green Bond Principles 2021 and the ASEAN Green Bond Standards 2018.

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1These government bodies are the Ministry of Finance, Monetary Authority of Singapore, Accountant-General’s Department, Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, and Ministry of Transport.

Singapore sovereign green bonds, also known as Green Singapore Government Securities (“SGS”) (Infrastructure), will be used to finance major, long-term green infrastructure in Singapore that qualify under the Framework. Borrowing for such infrastructure spreads the costs across the generations that would benefit from these projects.

Examples of eligible green SINGA projects include the upcoming Cross Island Line and Jurong Region Line. Our rail network expansion will enhance connectivity and encourage more commuters to take mass public transport, which together with walking and cycling, are the greenest ways to move.

The Singapore Government will borrow prudently and adhere to stringent safeguards.

(a) In order to qualify for financing via Green SGS (Infrastructure), infrastructure projects will need to meet the high bar to qualify as nationally significant under SINGA, as well as the green eligibility criteria stated in the Framework.

(b) The issuance of such green bonds will be subject to the overall legislative gross borrowing limit and the annual effective interest cost limit under SINGA 2.

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2
The gross borrowing limit of S$90 billion and annual effective interest cost threshold of S$5 billion apply to the overall SINGA programme, which comprises the issuance of both Green SGS (Infrastructure) and SGS (Infrastructure).

Singapore Statutory Boards will play a vital role in Singapore’s Whole-of-Government green financing efforts.

In line with market practice, Statutory Boards that intend to issue green bonds will develop and publish their own green bond frameworks, taking reference from the Singapore Green Bond Framework. Statutory Boards’ respective frameworks must align with internationally recognised market principles, standards, and best practices.

  • National Environment Agency (“NEA”) published its Green Bond Framework in August 2021. Proceeds from NEA’s green bonds will be used to finance sustainable infrastructure development projects including the Tuas Nexus Integrated Waste Management Facility, NEA’s flagship waste management project.
  • Housing & Development Board (“HDB”) published its Green Finance Framework in March 2022. The net proceeds from HDB’s green finance transactions will be used to finance or re-finance green building projects.
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