ABU DHABI (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have committed to ensuring the most ambitious outcomes in the areas of reducing carbon emissions, adapting to climate change, and financially supporting vulnerable nations at the upcoming United Nations climate change summit.
The countries said this in a joint statement on climate cooperation, released after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called on UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
“Both leaders reiterated their concern at the scale of impacts associated with the adverse effects of climate change that are already resulting in economic and non-economic losses and damage, and are being witnessed globally, especially by the most vulnerable,” said the statement.
The two nations also agreed to strengthen collaboration in the green economy, low-carbon energy and food security realms, in aims to advance their climate goals and create green jobs.
On Sunday, Lee and Sheikh Mohamed witnessed the exchange of one agreement and seven memorandums of understanding (MoUs), of which six are related to climate and digital technologies. The other two pacts are on education and strengthening trade in halal products.
Lee’s visit to the UAE comes just before it hosts the COP28 climate summit in Dubai from late November.
Both leaders reaffirmed that delivering on commitments in finance is key to restoring trust and faith within the multilateral process on climate change.
They highlighted the importance of commitments made in 2009 by developed countries to jointly mobilise US$100 billion of climate finance per year to help developing countries, and also double the amount of money needed for those countries to guard against climate impacts by 2025.
Lee and Sheikh Mohamed will support efforts to operationalise new financing arrangements, including a fund, to help climate-vulnerable developing countries respond to loss and damage, added the statement.
“As small states and hubs in our respective regions, Singapore and the UAE share a mutual interest in promoting multilateralism and a rules-based world order,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Meeting at the presidential palace Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi, both leaders agreed there was scope to do more in emerging areas such as the green and digital economies.
One of the eight deals inked is the Green Economy Framework Agreement, under which both countries will work on projects in green transport, low-carbon energy and tech, sustainable solutions, and trade, investment and carbon markets.
In a separate pact focusing on cleaner energy, both countries will collaborate on research and innovation, and set standards and certification in the areas of hydrogen fuel and carbon capture and storage.
In the morning, Lee and his delegation visited the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, where they were briefed by the company’s group chief executive and COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber on the future of the UAE’s energy transition plans and preparations for the climate conference.
“It was a fruitful discussion on the opportunities that decarbonisation, including the production of renewables and hydrogen, could bring for the UAE and Singapore,” said the press secretary to Lee, Chang Li Lin.
Both Singapore and the UAE – a major oil and gas exporter – have set goals to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Emirates was the first Middle East nation to commit to net zero by mid-century.
Like Singapore, the UAE is also heavily reliant on food imports, with 80 per cent to 90 per cent of its food coming from overseas. With its arid desert climate, the bulk of its water supply comes from seawater desalination.
Both countries also expanded an existing agreement on environmental protection and climate change to include food and water security.
The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment said: “The expanded cooperation will cover the exchange of knowledge, experiences, technologies and research in water management to enhance water security, as well as the promotion of mutual trade in food products, exchange of knowledge in food safety and urban food solutions.”
Recent activities under this agreement included a virtual workshop on Singapore’s novel food safety regulatory framework conducted by the Singapore Food Agency for its Emirati counterparts.
New joint activities to support COP28 and subsequent UN climate conferences will also be explored as part of the renewed pact.
Lee welcomed the UAE’s interest to join the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement to enable further collaboration in digital trade.
Both leaders also exchanged views on regional and international developments, including the recent tensions in the Middle East.
On the technology-related MoUs signed, both countries will cooperate on cyber security, artificial intelligence and digital government.
The trade of halal-certified products between both countries will also be easier with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and the UAE’s Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology now mutually recognising halal certificates and marks.
On Sunday, Lee also placed a wreath at war memorial Wahat Al Karama in Abu Dhabi, paying homage to fallen Emirati soldiers and national heroes.