Singapore to kick off S$15m carbon credit research in South-east Asia

Wong Pei Ting
Published Thu, Nov 10, 2022 · 06:00 PM

SINGAPORE will spend S$15 million to further carbon credit research in South-east Asia, after research found that Asia-Pacific hosts the highest concentration of the most profitable carbon projects that can generate returns on investments at close to US$25 billion a year.

Announcing this at the Cop27 United Nations climate summit on Thursday (Nov 10), the National University of Singapore (NUS) said the National Research Foundation will fund S$10 million, while the university funds the other S$5 million.

The new research effort, which looks to provide the evidence base for informing policy and investment decisions, will contribute to the realisation of Singapore’s ambition to be a global hub for climate-related services, it added.

The project builds upon earlier research done at its Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions (CNCS), which leverages satellite data to map out where nature-based projects in the region can be developed as potential sources of carbon credits.

That research culminated in the launch of a carbon prospecting dashboard in September, which lets users calculate the estimated yield of carbon credits and their financial return-on-investment, based on project duration, costs and carbon prices.

The new research effort, referred to as Carbon Integrity SG, will span five years, and will have CNCS researchers work with other universities, government agencies and corporations to establish monitoring plots at various natural habitats across the region.

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One such monitoring plot will be at a geothermal facility in southern Negros in the Philippines held by renewable energy company Energy Development Corporation. With monitoring, forests at its geothermal sites can allow the company to sequester carbon emissions. However, the overriding issue is the uncertainty over the amount of carbon stored in such natural habitats, which, in turn, deters project developers and investors.

NUS said the project will use tools such as light detection and ranging technology (Lidar) to help generate precise, three-dimensional information about the habitats.

Lidar data, as well as other measurements such as the girths of trees, will allow scientists to estimate and map the biomass carbon stocks across various forest ecosystems in the region, helping to improve estimates on carbon yield on the dashboard, it pointed out.

Through the project, researchers will also gain access to sites that can help develop new methods for calculating carbon storage potential for specific ecosystems, instead of relying on a “one-size-fits-all approach”, NUS said.

Currently, most estimates on natural carbon storage by forests are made using global or pantropical models, it explained. Carbon Integrity SG will help to establish region-specific carbon estimation models for various tropical habitats, including rainforests, mangroves, freshwater swamp forests, peatlands and deciduous forests, NUS said. 

CNCS previously found that Asia-Pacific’s carbon projects have the potential to avoid 835 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year from deforestation. This is almost half the emissions of Indonesia in 2018. 

Benedict Chia, director general for climate change at Singapore’s National Climate Change Secretariat, said the initiative can play an important role to accelerate climate action in the region, given the large potential for nature-based abatement in the region.



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