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Saudi Arabia’s green initiative wins plaudits

(China Daily) -- Climate advocates and observers have welcomed a multibillion-dollar plan by Saudi Arabia to combat climate change in the Middle East, but stress that its success hinges on meaningful cooperation from other countries.
In late October, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Middle East Green Initiative, aiming to secure about US$10.4 billion for an investment fund and clean energy project to reduce regional carbon emissions, and said that Saudi Arabia would contribute 15 percent of the funds.

┬áSaudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan, Chairman of ACWA Power International Mohammad A. Abunayyan and moderator Eithne Treanor attend the Saudi Green Initiative Forum to discuss efforts by the world’s top oil exporter to tackle climate change in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct 23, 2021.

The crown prince pledged that the country would reach net zero emissions by 2060 by investing more than US$186 billion into the green economy over that time, an amount equivalent to about one or two years’ worth of its current oil revenues. He also said his country would set up the required infrastructure, which includes establishing a regional carbon capture and storage centre, an early storm warning centre and a regional cloud-seeding programme.
United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed praised the initiative as “a valuable commitment and strategic vision”, to transition regional economies away from unsustainable development to a model “fit for the challenges of the 21st century”.
Nadim Farajalla, director of the Climate Change and Environment Programme at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, said that while greater cooperation among countries in the region is needed, he “would not lump the Middle East all together in one category” as the impact of climate change differs from one area to another.
Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli director at EcoPeace Middle East, a regional environmental organisation headquartered in Jordan, said Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have the potential to be major producers and exporters of renewable energy.
Because of the vast desert areas and incredible exposure to sunlight in the region, “Saudi Arabia, Jordan, (and) the Gulf, actually have the potential to be major producers and exporters of renewable energy”, said Bromberg, who is attending the UN climate conference in Glasgow.
Solar, wind and green hydrogen energy can replace the region’s future income losses from scaling back on fossil fuels “and help save not only the Middle East but the planet”, he said.
Ilan Zalayat, a Middle East analyst and doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, said it is hard to estimate Saudi Arabia’s capacity to financially meet the goals announced in the green projects in the long run.

(Latest Update November 4, 2021)

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