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Jacinda Ardern visit: S'pore, New Zealand to work closely on climate change, including sustainable aviation

SINGAPORE — The prime ministers of Singapore and New Zealand on Tuesday (April 19) agreed to work closely on addressing climate change and a green economy, including the area of sustainable aviation, at a meeting at the Istana.

Jacinda Ardern visit: S'pore, New Zealand to work closely on climate change, including sustainable aviation
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (left) and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong raise their glasses to strong bilateral relations as they meet on April 19, 2022.
  • Singapore and New Zealand agreed on Tuesday to cooperate on climate change as part of the enhanced partnership between both countries
  • Both sides will work together on sustainable aviation, such as sustainable aviation fuel, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
  • He was speaking during a joint press conference with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who is in Singapore for an official visit
  • During the joint press conference, both Mr Lee and Ms Ardern addressed the Russian invasion of Ukraine
  • Ms Ardern also called on President Halimah Yacob and had an orchid hybrid named after her on Tuesday

SINGAPORE — The prime ministers of Singapore and New Zealand on Tuesday (April 19) agreed to work closely on addressing climate change and a green economy, including the area of sustainable aviation, at a meeting at the Istana.

As part of a visit to Singapore by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, this new area of cooperation is being added to an Enhanced Partnership between the two nations established in 2019 during Ms Ardern's inaugural visit here.

Under the latest pillar of enhanced partnership, the two countries will also ink a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on sustainable aviation.

This will involve deepening the exchange of information on areas such as sustainable aviation fuel and hydrogen, and promoting the adoption of sustainable aviation initiatives that will contribute to efforts to decarbonise the aviation sector.

The two countries will also conduct pilot trials for the deployment of low- and zero-emissions fuel, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was speaking to the media during a joint conference with Ms Ardern.

The New Zealand leader arrived in Singapore on Monday for a three-day official visit.

This is her second official visit to Singapore since May 2019 and her first overseas trip since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

She is accompanied by her partner Clarke Gayford, New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor and senior officials.

The latest area of cooperation, which is focused on climate change, is the fifth established since both countries upgraded their bilateral ties to the Enhanced Partnership during Ms Ardern’s first visit to Singapore.

The other four pillars of cooperation are trade and economics, security and defence, science, technology and innovation, and people-to-people links.

SUSTAINABLE AVIATION

During the joint press conference, Mr Lee noted that aviation is one of the major sources of carbon emissions.

With New Zealand located "at the end of the world" and Singapore "not so close to Europe either", carbon emissions are a significant consideration for long journeys, said PM Lee.

And if we don't have a good solution to it (sustainable aviation), it will put Singapore, and to some extent New Zealand, at a disadvantage and therefore, we have an interest in working together.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

"And if we are going towards a low-carbon world, this is something which countries should be focused on.

"And if we don't have a good solution to it, it will put Singapore, and to some extent New Zealand, at a disadvantage and therefore, we have an interest in working together," said Mr Lee, who was responding to questions from the media.

Besides sustainable aviation and transport, both countries will also cooperate on areas such as energy transition technology, carbon markets and waste management for a start, said Mr Lee during his opening remarks at the press conference. 

Ms Ardern said that sustainable aviation is a “critical area” for New Zealand, which derives 5 per cent of its gross domestic product from tourism.

“Finding sustainable ways that individuals can still travel and enjoy our landscapes are important to us,” said Ms Ardern.

She also highlighted shipping and food as two other areas that both countries will address under the latest pillar of cooperation. 

Ms Ardern pointed out that New Zealand is reliant on being part of an integrated supply chain network which is trying to reduce its emissions profile. Singapore also has busy shipping ports, noted Ms Adern.

As such, it makes “perfect sense” for both countries to look at low-emissions options for shipping, such as through hydrogen or other fuel alternatives, she said.

Another area that both countries can work together is that of food, said Ms Ardern, noting that New Zealand’s food research institutes are exploring ways to set up urban farms that reduce people’s reliance on external sources of food. 

Describing climate change as "the existential challenge of our times", Mr Lee said that both countries share similar perspectives on the issue.

"We need stronger cooperation amongst countries to protect the most vulnerable peoples and places on our planet.

"At the same time, we see opportunities for practical collaboration as we adopt low-carbon and green technologies," said Mr Lee.

"This new pillar of cooperation reflects our shared commitment to implement the Paris Agreement and work together to seize growth opportunities in the green economy," he added.

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty on climate change.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA CONFLICT

During the joint press conference, both Mr Lee and Ms Ardern touched on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

In his opening remarks, Mr Lee said that both Singapore and New Zealand are “staunch supporters” of international law, which is why both countries have strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In response to questions from the media on China’s role in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Mr Lee said that both New Zealand and Singapore are watching the situation in Ukraine to see how it will impact China-Russia relations, and consequently, relations between the United States and China.

He added that both sides have a vested interest in China and US maintaining stable relations and hoped that the Ukraine situation will not complicate the relationship between the two major powers further.

Ms Ardern said that New Zealand will continue to send the message that the conflict in Ukraine is an “assault on a country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. To this end, New Zealand will continue to encourage China to acknowledge what the Ukraine conflict represents for the world.

Prior to the press conference, Ms Ardern was hosted to a welcome ceremony at the Istana. She also had a new hybrid orchid, the Dendrobium Jacinda Ardern, named in her honour.

She later called on President Halimah Yacob.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday that Ms Ardern and Mdm Halimah had “an engaging conversation” on the contributions and progress of women in both countries. They also discussed the importance of maintaining social cohesion in diverse and multicultural societies. 

Following her meeting with Mdm Halimah, Ms Ardern called on Mr Lee and was hosted to an official lunch following the joint press conference.

Ms Ardern visited the Gardens by the Bay on Tuesday evening, where she unveiled a Māori Kūwaha carving. The Kūwaha represents a symbolic doorway celebrating cultures, beliefs and identities. 

“Tāne Te Waiora is a bespoke carving which takes the form of a kūwaha and represents a symbolic doorway. It is a metaphor for our reconnection with Singapore, – demonstrating our intention to strengthen the 'doorway' between New Zealand and Singapore, and the rest of the world,” Ms Ardern said.

On Wednesday, she will attend the signing of an enhanced arrangement between New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Enterprise Singapore to explore joint initiatives to help companies of both countries expand their operations beyond their countries. 

She will also attend the signing of the MOU on sustainable aviation between Singapore and New Zealand with Transport Minister S Iswaran and a roundtable on sustainable aviation at Changi Jewel on Wednesday. 

Related topics

New Zealand climate change Jacinda Ardern Lee Hsien Long aviation

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