Picture of Sydney

Australia and Singapore sign ambitious green energy deal

Image credit: Foto 16368232 / Australia © Steve Allen | Dreamstime.com

The Australian and Singaporean governments have signed a green trade agreement to support low-emissions finance, carbon markets and decarbonisation initiatives.

Australia touted a world-first project that could help make the country a "renewable energy superpower" by shifting huge volumes of solar electricity under the sea to Singapore.

On Tuesday, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese met in Canberra to sign a sustainable commerce agreement to support trade, investment and climate change objectives. 

The green trade deal will see the two countries jointly implementing 17 initiatives to promote green shipping, sustainable aviation, government purchases of goods and services from low-emissions sources, sustainable food systems and eco labelling and sustainable schemes, the Australian government said.

Albanese said the pact showed a "collective resolve" to slash greenhouse gas emissions through an ambitious energy project and added the pact would "support clean energy innovation, unlock business opportunities and create jobs, and help deliver our mission’s targets”.  

One of the projects mentioned was the creation of an intercontinental power grid between the two nations, something clean energy start-up Sun Cable has been working towards. The vision is that of a high-voltage transmission line capable of shifting huge volumes of solar power from the deserts of northern Australia to tropical Singapore.

Sun Cable has said that, if successful, it would be the world's first intercontinental power grid.

"If this project can be made to work—and I believe it can be—you will see the world's largest solar farm," Albanese told reporters. "The prospect of Sun Cable is just one part of what I talk about when I say Australia can be a renewable energy superpower for the world."

AA PowerLink Project

AA PowerLink Project / SunCable Media

Image credit: PowerLink / SunCable Media

Australia is one of the world's largest coal and gas exporters and has been frequently criticised on the global stage for its failure to make meaningful reductions in carbon emissions.

In recent years, Australia has committed to reducing its emissions to net zero by 2050 and Singapore is considering adopting the same target. Both countries have signed the Paris climate agreement in which they have pledged to keep global temperature increases limited to 1.5°C  above with pre-industrial levels. 

"This is a model that will support both Australia and Singapore, and partners in our region, to seize the economic opportunities of the global transition to net zero," said Albanese. 

Albanese described Singapore as “one of the most innovative economies in the world,” and said Australia had the potential to become a “renewable energy superpower” due to its vast open spaces and relatively small population.

Lee said the green economy deal was the "first such agreement of its kind" and expressed his hope for it to become "a pathfinder for other countries simply to co-operate with one another to deal with what is a global problem". 

The first free trade agreement between Australia and Singapore was signed in July 2003. Australia currently ships LNG to Singapore, which it seeks to replace with the Australia-Asia Power Link project.

Albanese described the export of Australian solar power to Singapore as an “ultimate win-win.”

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