Opening Remarks by Minister for Transport Mr S Iswaran at Singapore-New Zealand Roundtable on Sustainable Aviation

20 Apr 2022Speeches
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern,
High Commissioner Tyndall,
Friends and colleagues from New Zealand and Singapore,

1.     Let me begin by extending a very warm Singaporean welcome to Prime Minister Ardern and the delegation. 

2.     I am very happy to join all of you today to witness the signing of the Memorandum of Arrangement between Singapore and New Zealand on Sustainable Aviation. 

3.     Singapore and New Zealand are natural partners in many fields, including trade and security, that is anchored by a common worldview and the values that we share. We have also always shared a common outlook on aviation issues. 

4.     We were both early champions of Open Skies, and among the first signatories to the Multilateral Agreement on the Liberalisation of International Air Transportation in 2001. Our flag carriers, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines, have a deep and wide-ranging partnership. 

5.     We are now extending this partnership and collaborative spirit to address the pressing issue of climate change. Hence, we have included a Climate Change and Green Economy Pillar, as you have heard from the Prime Minister, in the Singapore-New Zealand Enhanced Partnership.  

Importance of Aviation Sustainability 

6.     As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is incumbent upon us to redouble efforts for sustainable aviation. Pre-COVID, international aviation accounted for 2% of global carbon emissions. 

7.     If we fail to act, the sector’s emissions will rise in tandem with the post-pandemic recovery, and more than double by 2050 from 2019 levels. This is clearly not tenable – neither for the sector, nor for its wide range of climate-conscious stakeholders. It is also not viable for small, open economies like Singapore and New Zealand, which both rely on our connectivity with the rest of the world, for our economy and for our people. 

International & Domestic Developments

8.     Even before COVID, the aviation sector had achieved some early progress towards emissions reduction, under the leadership of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ICAO established the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation to address incremental emissions from the sector, and is now exploring a Long-Term Aspirational Goal for the sector. Many industry stakeholders and international organisations have also taken the initiative to aim for net-zero emissions by 2050. 

9.     In Singapore, we are developing a Sustainable Air Hub Blueprint, with medium- and long-term targets, and practical pathways to meet those targets. To advise on the Blueprint’s development, we have assembled an International Advisory Panel on a Sustainable Air Hub, bringing together thought leaders from across the value chain to share their insights and propose initiatives. 

Need for Partnerships 

10.    We know that the journey ahead is fraught, not least because of the sector’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Low-carbon alternatives such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) are expensive, and global volumes are low due to limited pathways and feedstock. 

11.    To tackle these challenges, we must harness the collective resolve, resources and capabilities of all stakeholders – across the industry and importantly, across nations. 

12.    Hence, this Memorandum of Arrangement on Sustainable Aviation between New Zealand and Singapore is apposite and timely. It is the first of such bilateral initiative on sustainable aviation for both our countries. It will give impetus to information sharing, research, and collaborations with industry, in areas such as SAFs and hydrogen-based fuels. 

13.    This collaboration is more than just a launch point for bilateral cooperation between Singapore and New Zealand on sustainable aviation. I do believe that it can also serve as a catalyst for many more like-minded States to come together to reimagine international aviation, take decisive climate action, and turn our constraints into opportunities. Indeed, it is an opportunity for us to reprise the partnership that New Zealand and Singapore had in embarking on the initial kernel of the CPTPP on the digital economy partnership, and extending it to sustainable aviation and green economy as well. 


14.    I would like to conclude by saying that this partnership between Singapore and New Zealand can serve as a pathfinder in this complex yet essential endeavour of decarbonising the aviation sector.  

15.    I would like to, once again, welcome the Prime Minister and the delegation to Singapore. I hope you’ve had a pleasant visit, and we look forward to a fruitful exchange of views at the Roundtable. Thank you very much.

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