Scope for Singapore to collaborate with UAE on low-carbon technologies: President Halimah

Rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels at Shell's solar-powered service station at 98 Paya Lebar Road on Dec 16, 2021. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

ABU DHABI - Singapore can work with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on solutions that reduce planet-warming carbon emissions to sustain "robust global responses to the climate crisis", said President Halimah Yacob on Monday (Jan 17). These solutions include hydrogen fuel and carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

Delivering a virtual keynote speech for the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Summit held in Dubai, she highlighted green innovations and efforts in the UAE, such as its vast solar parks and being the first in the Middle East and North Africa region to declare a net-zero commitment by 2050.

Dubai houses the region's first solar-driven hydrogen electrolysis facility to produce green hydrogen, where the gas is produced using renewable energy and has zero emissions.

Singapore is keen to collaborate with the UAE on improving the technical feasibility and the establishment of supply chains for low-carbon hydrogen, said Madam Halimah.

Such advanced low-carbon technologies are an area of interest for Singapore, which has pumped $55 million into 12 research projects in the areas of hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

A local study looking at the feasibility of using hydrogen as a fuel stated last year (2021) that Singapore would need to explore various supply pathways for price-competitive low-carbon hydrogen.

It was reported in June last year that three Singapore agencies were studying whether hydrogen could be imported via ships or pipes.

"We cannot afford to work in isolation when our planet's future is at stake. Cooperation, partnerships and leadership are critical," said Madam Halimah.

"Sustainability plans and road maps, including our Singapore Green Plan, will need to be refined as technologies evolve, mistakes are made and learnt from, and the knowledge and experiences of others guide us onto better and wiser paths," she added.

The Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) is the first global and large-scale sustainability event after last year's United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Scotland.

The programme - which started on Saturday and ends on Wednesday - convenes numerous world leaders, international businesses and students to accelerate pathways to further sustainability and meet net-zero goals.

ADSW also acts as a global catalyst for COP27, which will be held in Egypt later this year, and COP28, which will be hosted by the UAE in 2023.

Speaking from Singapore, Madam Halimah said on Monday that the Republic and UAE will be enhancing their bilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) on environmental protection and climate change to include food and water security.

The MOU - signed in 2017 - identified environmental protection, climate change and sustainable development issues of mutual interest to both countries, and established a mechanism through which both nations can pursue cooperative efforts.

"As we work to implement our respective plans, Singapore stands ready to collaborate with the UAE and other partners in the Middle East," added Madam Halimah.

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said in Parliament last week that there is "significant uncertainty" associated with technologies like hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

"Their commercial success hinges on factors such as technological maturity and transboundary cooperation, which are not entirely within our control," she said during a debate on Singapore's green transition.

There have been sustainability-related collaborations between the UAE and Singapore.

Last year, a few Abu Dhabi organisations collaborated with Enterprise Singapore to hunt for start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises from the Republic that can help with smart city developments in the Middle East. The partnership is called the Abu Dhabi-Singapore Smart Cities Open Innovation Challenge.

Mr Imran Hamsa, Enterprise Singapore's regional group director for Middle East and North Africa, told The Straits Times: "As global trading hubs, Singapore and the UAE share strong economic links and cooperation in areas such as innovation and sustainability.

"Through this innovation call, we hope to uncover new and viable solutions that will accelerate the development of smart cities and knowledge economies for both countries."

Ms Fu is in Dubai for the ADSW. On Monday, she attended the Zayed Sustainability Prize award ceremony, where Singaporean company Wateroam - which develops portable water filters - won an award under the water category.

Ms Fu will be meeting various officials, including UAE's Minister of Climate Change and Environment, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, and the chief executive of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.

In a statement, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment said Ms Fu and the government officials will discuss ways to enhance cooperation in areas such as food and water security, and climate action.

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