Singapore and EU can collaborate on research, green finance to tackle climate crisis

SINGAPORE – In the global quest to tackle climate change and the extinction of wildlife species, there are many opportunities for Singapore and the European Union to collaborate, such as in the areas of green finance and urban greening.

These potential partnerships, which also include the research, development and deployment of low-carbon energy options, were a topic of discussion between European Commission executive vice-president Frans Timmermans and three Singapore ministers during a meeting on Thursday (July 8).

Mr Teo Chee Hean, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security and chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, met Mr Timmermans with Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu.

Mr Timmermans said in a statement that he is in Singapore to discuss climate change and biodiversity in the run-up to the United Nations’ climate change conference, called COP26, scheduled to take place in November in Glasgow.

“During Covid-19, we have demanded a high degree of solidarity from our young generation,” he said.

“This should remind us that we owe it to our children and grandchildren to leave them decent living conditions on our planet. We must take decisive climate action and preserve biodiversity and the environment.”

In a joint statement after the meeting, Singapore and the EU said they “jointly underscored the importance of taking urgent action to combat climate change and preserve biodiversity for future generations, even as we respond to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement provides a framework to advance the joint sustainability and development agenda, the statement said.

“Singapore and the EU are committed to close cooperation in areas ranging from low-carbon energy technologies to carbon services and solutions,” it added.

Both the Republic and the EU have set prior environmental commitments.

In February, for instance, the Republic announced the Singapore Green Plan 2030 – a road map with sustainability targets that aims to help the country reach net zero emissions as soon as viable.

The Republic also collaborates with other countries on climate change issues and provides training to developing countries on climate change and environment-related matters, said the statement, jointly issued by the EU in Singapore, Singapore’s National Climate Change Secretariat, and the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment.

As for the EU, it presented the European Green Deal in December 2019 as its growth strategy, bringing together environmental, economic and social sustainability.

The deal combines financial and regulatory tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy, and restore nature and biodiversity.

The EU aims to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Mr Frans Timmermans and Mr Teo Chee Hean in Singapore, on July 8, 2021. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION 

Mr Timmermans, who is chief of the European Green Deal, said he hopes that the discussions with Mr Teo, Ms Fu and Dr Balakrishnan will allow both Singapore and the EU to explore opportunities to jointly advance the green transition in the longer term.

“I believe that we now all have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use the singular fiscal efforts to recover from the pandemic to ‘build back better’. We stand ready to work with Singapore to this end,” he added.

Ms Fu said tackling climate change requires concerted international effort, and countries must work together to address this existential challenge.

“Singapore is a strong supporter of global climate action and is committed to working with all parties, including the EU, for a successful outcome at COP26,” she added.

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