SINGAPORE - Flights powered by sustainable aviation fuels could ply routes between Singapore and New Zealand under a new "green lane" scheme.
The two countries will look into the scale, costs and technical viabilities of developing such green lanes, so as to encourage the gradual uptake of such flights by travellers.
This is among the initiatives stated in a memorandum of arrangement on sustainable aviation signed by both countries on Wednesday (April 20).
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Singapore Transport Minister S. Iswaran witnessed the signing at Jewel Changi Airport.
Ms Ardern arrived in Singapore on Monday for a three-day visit. This is her first overseas visit since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Singapore and New Zealand said in a joint statement on the arrangement that they will collaborate in four key areas - policy and regulation, industry development, future infrastructure planning and provision, and workforce transformation.
Both countries will work together to advance the viability of sustainable aviation fuels. They will also look to facilitate the development of other sustainable fuels such as hydrogen, and their related supply chains in the Asia-Pacific region.
The arrangement is one of the first initiatives under the new Climate Change and Green Economy Pillar under the existing Singapore-New Zealand Enhanced Partnership.
Explaining the need for partnerships on aviation sustainability, Mr Iswaran, who is also Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, said carbon emissions by the global aviation sector could 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."
Low-carbon alternatives, such as sustainable aviation fuels, are expensive and global volumes are low owing to limited pathways and raw materials.
Thus, Singapore has to work with stakeholders across the industry and across national boundaries to tackle these challenges, he added.
Mr Iswaran also said that the new arrangement can serve as a catalyst for more like-minded states to come together on the issue of aviation sustainability.
Ms Ardern said the arrangement is an acknowledgement that aviation cannot return to business as usual in a post-Covid-19 world.
She added that initiatives like the sustainable aviation arrangement will lay the foundation for the longer-term goal of decarbonisation and environmental sustainability across both countries' economies.
"Climate change for both our nations represents an existential crisis, which we must address," she said.
Airlines and airport operators from the two countries said they welcome the memorandum of agreement in a series of short speeches at the event.
They also cited examples of initiatives they are implementing to make their operations more sustainable.
Mr Malcolm Johns, chief executive of Christchurch Airport, said the new arrangement is an excellent step to harmonise the objectives of policies in Singapore and New Zealand.
He added that commercial operators, capital providers and consumers will all have to work together to achieve decarbonisation of aviation.
Singapore Airlines Group CEO Goh Choon Phong said the airline has installed solar panels on all its buildings, among other initiatives. This has contributed to about 20 per cent of SIA’s electricity needs a year, and cut carbon emissions by more than 4,000 tonnes.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Singapore’s Ministry of Transport also said on Wednesday that an international advisory panel it has set up to look into aviation sustainability will present its recommendations in July 2022.
The panel has held five meetings since it was set up in February.
Its recommendations will be incorporated into a blueprint to pave the way for Singapore’s aviation sector to cut emissions and put in place other green initiatives.
Goals will be set for 2030 and 2050, with details on how to get there.