Decoding China: China and Singapore have shared prospects for climate action
Decision Makers

Editor's Note: Xi Jinping's Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is China-centered and internationally applicable; it caters to the present and is geared towards the future. In CGTN's Decoding China series, domestic and international high-profile officials and experts from various fields share their experiences and talk about Chinese governance and its global implications. In this episode, Singapore's Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Grace Fu, shares her insights on the green cooperation between China and Singapore.

CGTN: Hello, Minister Fu. Thank you for talking to us. As you know, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the "30·60" plan, which is to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. He also said that ecological conservation is of vital importance to the sustainable development of the Chinese nation. How do you evaluate China's performance on climate and environmental issues over these past several years?

Grace Fu: I have noted the revised nationally determined contributions to climate change made by China. As you said, there is the "Shuang Tan:" "Tan Zhonghe" and "Tan Dafeng," which is (carbon) peaking in 2030 and also net zero neutrality in 2060. I've also read several of China's policies in detail, including those on the deployment of renewable energy and responsible consumption and production.

The plans are very detailed and very comprehensive. And it's a good model for many policymakers. At the same time, you are deploying renewable energy, as well as solar panels at a capacity that I think no other countries in the world can match.

It's really not for Singapore to comment on your performance or any other country's performance for that matter. But I think there are many commonalities between Singapore and China. First of all, I think we are very aware of the impact of climate change.

China has also placed a lot of emphasis on ecological and environmental protection, just like Singapore. As you said, President Xi Jinping has described how the "mountains and rivers are as precious as gold and silver." At the same time, Singapore has always wanted to be a garden city in the beginning. And now we are a "City in Nature."

So both countries know the importance of keeping the greenery and the ecological environment and protecting them, conserving them as an important policy objective. We have also seen how our actions can have an impact on the decarbonization of economic growth. So you have a very good set of policies on energy transition. We, too, have a set of (policies on) energy transitions. We know that each country has got to find its solutions.

And so we respect this very basic principle of the Paris Agreement, which is common, but differentiated responsibilities. We respect that, and both of us are aligned. However, we can find areas where we can work together.

And we have a government-to-government partnership for Tianjin Eco-city that is now in its 15th year. It is a project that I have personally been very much involved in. I was involved in the early stage of deciding where the eco-city would be located. It was when I was a younger minister 15 years ago, having discussions with the Chinese government about whether we should have it in Tianjin or not. I've seen it evolve over the years. We have always wanted a place that has demonstrative value in addressing some of the environmental challenges that China is facing.

We hope that this project will be a testbed of innovative ideas. It will continue to have its relevance because climate change requires us to look for technology innovation, in policies. And we hope that through Tianjin Eco-city, there will be many other projects that Singapore and China can work together on.

CGTN: China has proposed the Global Development Initiative (GDI). And in the Belt and Road Initiative, there has been an environmental climate aspect to it. It started basically with a pure infrastructure project, but it grew over the years. So do you see the BRI and the GDI philosophy as some of the possibilities that we can explore for greater international collaboration?

Grace Fu: Absolutely. I think China has a lot to offer. I think in the GDI, there are about seven or eight items; you have public health, such as vaccine and management of COVID-19 for example; you also have areas on climate and green transition; you have the area on digital connection and digitalization. These are all areas where the Chinese government and the Chinese industries have lots of capabilities and resources.

And the rest of the world, many countries require that. I think we want to see a world in which sustainable development is aligned with climate action. So they are not one or another. They are not moving in opposite directions. They can converge. What's good for people must be good for the environment, ultimately.

And what's good for resource resilience, for example, reducing waste, having better digital information so that we can reduce wastage, so that we can better use our assets, so that we can manage an early warning system on flood prevention to save lives. These are all areas where technology can be applied for the benefit of people. China has both the experience, technology, capability, and resources to make that happen. What I would like to see is for us to align sustainable development with equal emphasis on environmental protection and climate action.

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