It is important for food and energy sources to remain accessible internationally. Especially now, in the wake of the pandemic and the continuing Russo-Ukraine war.
And also for the future, with climate change continuing worldwide.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong underscored these truisms at the G20 meeting in Bali this on Tuesday (Nov 15).
“As a small island state that imports most of its food and energy needs, Singapore has long understood acutely the importance of maintaining access to food and energy sources,” PM Lee stated to other world leaders.
He shared three suggestions for continuing this access: a stronger rules-based multilateral trading system, accelerated net zero ambitions and scaling up sustainable financing.
More rules = more trade
“We need to strengthen the rules-based multilateral trading system. This is important so that all countries continue to enjoy unimpeded access to energy, food and agricultural commodities, especially during crises,” began PM Lee.
“Singapore takes our role as a trusted hub for logistics, transportation, and energy very seriously. We look forward to working with partners to keep global supply chains free and open.”
These rules, Petir.sg notes, are important because people don’t think about them while trade goes on smoothly between nations.
“Trade rules tend to be taken for granted. They run in the background. Take them away and trading nations could do whatever they want,” wrote the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
“Without rules, there would be mayhem.”
So a big yes to PM Lee’s suggestion.
Rev up to net zero
And once this particular pandemic ends, and the war is over, climate change will remain.
“We must collectively accelerate our net zero ambitions,” said PM Lee.
“Climate change is the longer-term threat to food and energy security.”
He shared how Singapore’s systematically working towards net-zero by 2050.
“We are raising carbon taxes significantly. We will implement a National Hydrogen Strategy to green our power sector,” he pointed out.
“We are working with regional partners to develop the ASEAN Power Grid, to enhance regional energy interconnectivity and security while supporting decarbonisation efforts.”
In fact, this 2050 net-zero ambition improves upon Singapore’s “as soon as viable in the second half of the century” target from two years previous.
Scaling up sustainable financing
Climate solutions are costly, that said. So stakeholders can help each other, particularly across borders.
“We need to scale up sustainable financing,” shared PM Lee.
“Countries will need more transition finance to help hard-to-abate sectors decarbonise or switch to green energy.”
For example, the Asian Development Bank’s Energy Transition Mechanism is currently helping to decommission coal-powered plants early.
Private capital needs mobilising too, like how the Monetary Authority of Singapore is injecting seed capital into an Asia Climate Solutions Design Grant.
“This will fund studies on innovative blended finance solutions and mobilise capital for target sectors within Asia,” explained PM Lee about the potential for private-public collaboration on sustainable infrastructure projects.”
The path forward
PM Lee was not done advancing Singapore’s international position after his suggestions at the G20 on Tuesday as he took to Facebook to update the citizenry.
“This year’s Summit pushed for stronger and more resilient post-pandemic global recovery, and we began with discussions on food and energy security, and health,” he posted the following day (Nov 16), tagging Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan as being at the Bali G20 with him.
“Also had short yet fruitful bilateral meetings with some fellow leaders to reaffirm our ties,” he added.
“Another busy day today before the Summit concludes.”
All photos from PM Lee Facebook