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Singapore-Australia Developing Green Economy Agreement for a Sustainable Future

Per a joint press release from the two countries, Singapore will join Australia in drafting a Green Economy Agreement (GEA). The cooperation intends to hasten both countries’ transition to a greener, more sustainable future, while also creating jobs and reducing carbon emissions. The agreement will highlight initiatives to encourage and ease trade and investment, with an emphasis on reducing regulatory burdens on businesses. It also aims to eliminate non-tariff obstacles to trade in environmental goods and services and to speed up the adoption of low-emission green technology.

The countries claimed this “world-first agreement” will deepen their bilateral connection through strengthened economic and environmental relations in a joint vision statement released following the conference. The agreement’s larger goal is to serve as a guide for multilateral and regional policy development by establishing policies, standards, and initiatives that will not only create good jobs in green growth sectors but also strengthen environmental governance and global capacity to deal with environmental issues.

Singapore and Australia already have an open, liberalised trade and investment relationship and are both prominent proponents of a global trading system based on open norms. Singapore is also collaborating with Australia on a solar power project that would provide green energy to Singapore via a 4,200-kilometre underwater cable from Darwin, Australia.

The Sun Cable project, worth A$30 billion (S$29.5 billion), aims to bring green power to Singapore via a 4,200-kilometre cable from Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory. The goal is to begin sending power to Darwin in 2026, with the first shipments to Singapore in 2027, and full commercial operations by the end of 2028. According to the company, supplying up to 15% of Singapore’s electricity demand could lower emissions by six million tonnes per year.

OpenGov Asia reported that Singapore is currently implementing efforts to make industrial production processes and energy usage more environmentally friendly and to improve energy efficiency. The Republic also aspires to become a sustainable tourism destination, as well as a carbon services hub and a centre for green finance, to help Asia’s sustainability efforts. This also entails ensuring that new carbon-intensive investments brought into Singapore are among the best-in-class in terms of carbon and energy efficiency.

The Green Economy, one of five key pillars of the new Green Plan, aims to seek green growth opportunities to create new jobs, transform Singapore’s industries, and harness sustainability as a competitive advantage, the statement said.

With this objective, Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) recently launched an SGD 3 billion multicurrency medium-term note programme as well as a green bond framework to fund the development of sustainable waste management infrastructure. In addition, by 2035, all government vehicles will be powered by cleaner energy, five years ahead of the national objective of 2040. All new government vehicles must have zero emissions by 2023.

Last July, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu declared these and other targets. She explained the numerous ways the government will spearhead low-carbon activities under GreenGov.SG project. Government-owned workplaces and public infrastructure have set a goal of reaching maximum emissions by 2025, after which they will begin to reduce emissions five years ahead of the rest of the country.

Under the Paris Agreement, Singapore aims to peak at 65 million tonnes by 2030, reduce to 33 million tonnes by 2050, and achieve net-zero emissions sometime in the second half of the century.

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