Vice Minister Zhao,
1 Good afternoon. I am pleased to be here today to attend the High-level Seminar on a new Outlook on the Green Silk Road.
China as a leader in sustainability
2 Over the course of my career, I have visited China often and participated in many bilateral activities. One thing I have noticed is the astonishing progress made by China on the sustainability front.
3 China is now a veritable renewable energy giant and growing environmental leader on the global stage. The country boasts some impressive figures for renewable energy development - seven out of ten of the world’s leading photovoltaic module producers are based in China, and China is the largest producer of renewables, including hydrogen. New Chinese projects have contributed to 80% of global addition to wind power in 2021.
4 China also leads globally in Electric Vehicle (EV) production. The EV industry in China is the largest in the world, and accounts for more than half of global EV production.
5 On the climate front, China’s declaration to peak emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060 is a significant one. It will move the needle on global efforts to tackle climate change.
Belt and Road Initiative
6 This year marks an important milestone for the Belt and Road Initiative.
7 Established by President Xi Jinping ten years ago, the BRI is a major undertaking for global sustainable development, and presents opportunities for countries to leapfrog into more future-oriented and more sustainable models of development. The initiative can be traced back to the ancient Silk Road, and the maritime “Silk Road” explored by Admiral Zheng He in the 14th Century. Thousands of miles and centuries later, the BRI still embodies the Silk Road’s spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, as well as friendship and learning.
8 As we look to the future, I see great potential for the BRI to build a greener Silk Road through championing environmental protection and climate action alongside economic, social and cultural development.
9 To do this, international partnerships are crucial to address the adverse impacts of climate change. This will in turn require a stable global order in which we can cooperate productively and resolve disputes peacefully.
10 Singapore has worked closely with China to contribute to global green development, and will continue to leverage platforms such as the Tianjin Eco-city (TEC) to do so.
11 Conceptualised by then-Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and then-Premier Wen Jiabao, the TEC serves as a model for sustainable development between both countries. The site where the city stands today used to be a wasteland filled with abandoned saltpans and polluted waters. The site was chosen to prove that the transformation of such barren land can be done. The next step will be to replicate this success in other cities across the world.
12 Through the efforts of both countries, the TEC has since been transformed into a green, liveable and smart township of more than 100,000 people.
13 To achieve this vision, Singapore and Chinese experts have jointly formulated a Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) framework, based on international standards and adapted to local conditions, to guide the city’s low-carbon and sustainable development. The KPI framework was also thoroughly reviewed to raise targets and incorporate new indicators in 2018 to serve TEC’s developmental priorities and retain its forerunner status.
14 Our governments and companies have also worked to develop the TEC into a Sino-Singapore Green Building Demonstration Zone since 2015. 26 Singapore built environment companies have formed a business alliance in 2020 with their Chinese partners to export their experience and solutions to other cities in China and along the Belt and Road.
15 Moving forward, there is great potential for us to collaborate further on green development projects through the BRI.
16 The next area for collaboration is in green finance. Given Singapore’s status as a global trading hub and reputable financial centre, delving into sustainable finance is a natural extension for Singapore. We must do more to reduce the barriers of capital flow to facilitate investments in this direction. One of such ways is in aligning our green taxonomies. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is working with its regional counterparts to progressively develop an ASEAN Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance to define and facilitate sustainable and transition activities in six initial focus sectors, including agriculture and forestry. MAS and the People’s Bank of China have also made progress on this front. Earlier this year, both sides announced the establishment of the China-Singapore Green Finance Taskforce to deepen cooperation in green and transition finance, and facilitate greater public-private sector partnerships. This will help to galvanise collaboration on concrete initiatives that will catalyse capital flows to support a credible and inclusive transition to a low carbon future.
17 In conclusion, no country will be able to achieve their climate ambitions by going at it alone. As we push for a greener world, there is an urgent need for us to collaborate with like-minded partners and promote a regional architecture that facilitates inclusive and sustainable development.
18 There are many opportunities ahead for all of us, governments and businesses alike, and I hope that we will take advantage of them to build a more sustainable world, and a greener silk road together.
19 Thank you.