Saudi Arabia unveils road map to achieve a carbon-neutral future

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (above) announced a plan to reach net zero by 2060 at the opening of the Saudi Green Initiative forum. (AFP)
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Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman (C-L) said the Kingdom could beat its own 2060 target. He was joined by the UAE’s special envoy for climate change Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber (C-R). AFP
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Fahad Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, speaking during the SGI forum on Saturday. (AN photo)
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Updated 24 October 2021

Saudi Arabia unveils road map to achieve a carbon-neutral future

  • Saudi Green Initiative forum in Riyadh attended by energy and environment officials and decision-makers
  • Kingdom aims for “net zero” carbon emissions by 2060 while preserving its leading role in energy markets

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter in the world, has committed itself to a carbon-neutral future at the Saudi Green Initiative in Riyadh.

Announcing a plan to reach “net zero” in carbon by 2060, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday said the move was in line with the Kingdom’s development plans, “while preserving and reinforcing its leading role in the security and stability of global energy markets.”




Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announcing a plan to reach net zero by 2060 at the opening of the Saudi Green Initiative forum. (Screen grab from SGI video)

In a related announcement, Amin Nasser, the president and chief executive of Saudi Aramco, revealed plans to make the world’s biggest oil company a “net zero” operation by 2050. “The road will be complex and the transition will have challenges, but we are confident we can meet them and accelerate our efforts to a low-emission future,” he said.

The pledges were the most eye-catching items on a day when Saudi Arabia reasserted its ambition to lead the world in the battle against climate change, while retaining its traditional leadership in oil and gas markets.




Amin Nasser, the president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco,  (AN photo)

Nasser added: “We are not abandoning our existing sources of energy, but investing in new sources as well.”

Also notable was a commitment to double the amount of carbon the Kingdom will cut in its domestic economy, removing 278 million tons of the pollutant per year by 2030.

“These initiatives aim at modifying the Kingdom’s energy mix, rationing and increasing the efficiency of energy production and use, and investing in new energy sources, including hydrogen,” the crown prince said.

He also unveiled the first phase of the plan to eventually plant 10 billion trees in the Kingdom over coming decades, with an initiative to plant 450 million trees by 2030, rehabilitating 8 million hectares of degraded land, and allocating new protected areas, to bring the total of protected land in Saudi Arabia to more than 20 percent of its total.




Saudi Arabia aims to plant more than 10 billion trees in the next two decades as part of the Saudi Green Initiative.

Much of the domestic initiative will be focused on the capital Riyadh, already in the middle of a “green” regeneration. “The transformation of Riyadh into one of the world’s most sustainable cities is already underway,” the crown prince said.

The first set of the new “green” initiative would require investment of SR700 billion, boosting job creation in Saudi Arabia and presenting investment opportunities for the growing private sector, in line with the Vision 2030 strategy to reduce economic dependency on oil.

But it was the net zero commitment and the pledge to remove twice as much carbon than before that caught the attention of the hundreds of attendees in Riyadh, coming as it did just days before the start of the UN’s COP26 summit on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland.




Fahad Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City. (AN photo)

The Kingdom joins a growing number of countries that have pledged net zero by 2060 — such as China and Russia — rather than the accelerated goal of 2050 some Europeans and North Americans want.

INNUMBERS

278 million tons of carbon will be removed by 2030 in the Kingdom.

10 billion trees will be planted in Saudi Arabia over the next decades.

13 million Saudi Arabia’s new oil production capacity in bpd.

Some environmental activists have in the past criticized the Kingdom for not adopting a net zero target, and for not doing more to cut domestic carbon output. The new targets will go a long way to satisfying critics of the Kingdom as part of the debate on “nationally determined contributions” (NDC) that could figure prominently in COP26.

Nasser said: “We have to consider that this announcement comes from the biggest hydrocarbon producer in the world. To make that type of commitment is something great, and I’m sure others will follow the leadership of the Kingdom.”

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi energy minister, thought that the Kingdom could meet the net-zero commitment before the 2060 timetable, using the framework of the Circular Carbon Economy, which aims to reduce, reuse, recycle and remove CO2 greenhouse gasses.




Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi energy minister, speaking during the forum. (AN photo)

He said that technologies to help meet the new targets would be fully mature by 2040, boosting the plans to meet the goals and providing an example to others.

“The Kingdom is not seeking financial support or grants to achieve this NDC and it will use the best suited technology to do so,” the minister stressed.

“We can shift our energy mix by using 50 percent in empowering the power sector and all utilities, therefore 50 percent will be done on renewables and the other 50 percent will be the development of more gas. That 50/50 will be a major component in that reduction we have discussed,” he said.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the event in Tuwaiq, Nasser explained that Aramco would meet its 2050 deadline by focusing on emissions from its own wholly owned facilities, and not from its overseas operations, where it was “out of our control.”




Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, UAE special envoy for climate change. (AFP)

Nasser said that there was no contradiction between its net-zero goal and Aramco’s strategy on increasing oil production, pointing out that Aramco crude was less polluting than other types of oil, and that it was also planning to introduce strict controls on methane output, which is potentially more harmful than CO2.

He added that because of a shortfall in energy investment in recent years, spare capacity was declining fast in the global industry. “With the opening of economies there will be more usage of hydrocarbons, more need, more demand, and you will end up in not a good situation.

“We’re doing our part by maintaining our 12 million bpd, building capacity by an additional 1 million barrels, but the rest of the world needs to do its part. Demonising the hydrocarbon industry is not good to help anyone,” he added.




Abdullah Al-Swaha, Saudi Minister of Communication and Technology. (AN photo)

The SGI event will be held every year, allowing for a check on the Kingdom’s progress towards its goals on climate change. “We want to be held accountable,” Prince Abdulaziz said.

There were three areas of focus, he added: “Energy security, sustainable economic growth and prosperity, and attending to the serious issue of climate change. We can achieve all three without compromising a single one of them.”

The new Saudi commitment was a message to the world, the prince said. “It enables us to say that we are with you. We share the same concern. We want to evolve.”




Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission of AlUla. (AN photo)

But he insisted that some of the more extreme solutions, like banning hydrocarbons and halting investment in oil and gas, were not practical proposals for dealing with climate change.

“The world cannot operate without fossil fuels, without hydrocarbons, without renewables … none of these things will be the savior. It has to be a comprehensive solution,” he said.

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Mangroves: Saudi efforts to protect nature’s guardians of the ecosystem

Updated 21 January 2022

Mangroves: Saudi efforts to protect nature’s guardians of the ecosystem

  • Authorities plan to plant 10 billion mangrove trees across the Kingdom as part of the Saudi Green Initiative

JEDDAH: As part of the Saudi Green Initiative, which was launched last year with the aim of tackling climate change, reducing carbon emissions and improving the environment, 10 billion mangrove trees will be planted across the Kingdom.

Mangroves, ancient coastal plants that grow partly submerged in salt water and thrive in warmer climates around the world, are considered a cornerstone of coastal environmental development and so have a key role to play in achieving the objectives of the initiative.

Ahmed Almansi, a coastal and marine environment consultant at the National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification, told Arab News that mangroves grow along the coasts of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

“This provides an impetus for the center to cultivate more mangroves in these environments,” he added.

According to the center, two types of mangroves commonly grow on the Red Sea coast: Avicennia marina, commonly known as gray or white mangrove, and Rhizophora mucronata, also known as loop-root, red or Asiatic mangrove. They are highly sensitive to cold. 

“Mangroves grow in the form of scattered patches in the intertidal areas of the Red Sea coast and are lower in height in the northern regions,” the center said. “The reason for these differences in height may be the low temperatures that the bushes are exposed to in the northern part of the Red Sea in winter.”

The avicennia marina type of mangroves that grow in the Asir and Jazan regions are the largest found on the Saudi coast, the center said, and “the coastal areas and patches of the Red Sea that contain mangroves in the Kingdom cover an estimated area of about 35,500 hectares.”

There are a number of reasons why mangroves are considered so important to environmental and conservation efforts. They have the ability to absorb pollutants such as heavy metals and other toxic substances from water, which helps to protect seagrass and coral reefs.

FASTFACT

• The trees can protect coastal communities, provide shelter for wildlife, absorb pollution and help to combat climate change.

They also act as natural filters for sewage, preventing pollutants originating on land from reaching deep waters. And the trees help to mitigate the effects of climate change as they can absorb larger amounts of carbon from the atmosphere compared with other tropical trees.

Mangroves also form “green barriers” that serve as a first line of defense for coastal communities, protecting them from damage caused by storms and waves, preventing erosion and helping to stabilize beaches.

“These green barriers absorb at least 70 to 90 percent of wave energy generated by the winds,” said Almansi. “They are also able to reduce the intensity of tsunami waves by mitigating the catastrophic amount of wave energy associated with them, which helps reduce the loss of life and property damage.”

In addition, mangroves act as shelters and incubators for many species of fish, crustaceans and birds, providing them with a good source of nutrition. They provide nesting and resting locations for many types of resident and migratory birds, strong communities of which are considered a biological indicator of ecosystem quality. The National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification has identified 125 species that use mangrove habitats at some point in their life cycles.

Land-based animals also benefit from mangrove swamps. They provide pastures for camels on islands in the Red Sea, and provide high-quality nutrition for camels in coastal locations during the winter.

Despite their clear environmental benefits, mangroves are under threat globally from urbanization, encroachment, overgrazing, pollution, the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and the improper disposal of waste. The development of the tourism industry is another significant threat. But efforts are being made in Saudi Arabia to preserve and enhance this precious natural resource.

“The center is planting mangroves to rehabilitate these environments, using 60 cm long seedlings,” Almansi said, adding that nylon nets are used temporarily to protect the young plants, prevent seaweed and waves from damaging them, and encourage strong root growth and stability.


Who’s Who: Akram Jadawi, a DG at the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology

Updated 21 January 2022

Who’s Who: Akram Jadawi, a DG at the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology

Akram Jadawi has been the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s director general of international cooperation since May 2020.

He was appointed co-chair of the Saudi delegation at the Digital Economy Task Force in G20 Italia and was director general of G20 affairs at the National Digital Transformation Unit between November 2019 and August 2020.

In 2006, he gained a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz University, the following year a transition semester certificate in process engineering from the National Institute of Applied Sciences, in France, in 2009 a master’s degree in law, management science, and political science from the University of Versailles, and a Ph.D. in physics of materials (material engineering) from the French University of Rouen, in 2014.

Between July 2017 and November 2019, he was director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Knowledge Center and worked as acting director general of the ministry’s Documentation and Archiving Center from January 2018 to September 2019.

Prior to that, Jadawi held the position of deputy director general at the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund between July 2016 and July 2017 and was lead adviser to the fund’s director general from February 2016 to July of the same year.

At an international level, he has been part of government delegations attending conferences and meetings including the 2016 Employment Working Group summit held in China, where he led the official team presenting women and youth employment initiatives.

Also in 2016, he was a member of the official delegation at a session in Indonesia of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s steering committee for labor ministers, participating in a research center labor workshop.


Saudi minister, businesses discuss initiatives to develop health sector

Updated 21 January 2022

Saudi minister, businesses discuss initiatives to develop health sector

RIYADH: Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel on Thursday met with business leaders and representatives of private hospitals in the Kingdom.

During the meeting, they discussed initiatives to develop the health sector and reviewed Ministry of Health projects and plans to improve healthcare services and industry performance levels.

The ministry has been promoting increased investment in the sector through the adoption of international quality standards, while also establishing a business call center, working toward fully automating health licenses, supporting small and medium enterprises, and realizing government electronic integration.

The involvement of the private health sector in the transformation process has been a key part of the Saudi government’s development and integration plans for the country’s public and private health systems.

The private sector has recently worked alongside the government in helping to implement a number of coronavirus pandemic-related preventative programs and initiatives are already in place to strengthen links between public and private hospitals in the Kingdom.

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International e-learning conference to open next week in Riyadh

Updated 20 January 2022

International e-learning conference to open next week in Riyadh

  • Four-day event will feature workshops by experts from around the world

RIYADH: Experts from around the world are set to take part in a four-day conference in Riyadh to discuss the future of e-learning and e-training in Saudi Arabia.

The event, which starts on Monday, has been organized by the National eLearning Center under the patronage of its CEO and Education Minister Hamad Al-Asheikh.

Titled “eLearning for Human Capability Development,” the conference will review the latest developments and opportunities in the field, and discuss ways to develop Saudis’ skills to enable them to compete in the global labor market.

Delegates will also review the experiences of groups like the EU, UNESCO and the International Labor Organization, and individual countries such as India.

The event will look at how platforms like edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn can help to boost people’s skills, and discuss ways to use e-learning to harmonize educational output with the needs of the labor market.

The conference will also include a number of workshops presented by experts and practitioners in various disciplines from around the world.

More details about the event are available at elhcd.nelc.gov.sa.


Saudi Arabia and South Korea sign intellectual property partnership

Updated 20 January 2022

Saudi Arabia and South Korea sign intellectual property partnership

  • The agreement will see Korean IP experts arrive in the Saudi capital

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and South Korea recently agreed to implement 35 intellectual property projects together.

A memorandum of understanding was signed on the sidelines of the Saudi-Korean Investment Forum in Riyadh by Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Suwailem, chief executive officer at the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property, and Dr. Kim Yong Rae, commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office, in the presence of Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The agreement, according to a statement, “enhances the strategic partnership between South Korea and Saudi Arabia,” and will involve the secondment of Korean IP experts to Riyadh.

SAIP spokesman Yasser Hakami told Arab News that the MoU laid out the framework, projects, timeline and procedures for the specified bilateral cooperative activities.

“Within this arrangement, the two sides will implement a number of programs and projects that will foster an IP ecosystem through patent examination, IP information, and national IP strategies. There will also be an IP Academy program, in which invention classes will be provided to elementary school children. The program will also include developing and implementing promotional activities to encourage Saudi female inventors,” Hakami said.

He added that the two parties will meet regularly to review and evaluate the implementation of this arrangement and “will suggest complementary measures or future plans if needed.”

According to the agreement, the two sides may allow third parties from both countries to take part in implementing the projects. The agreement will remain in effect until all the programs and projects are completed, which is expected to take two years.

This is not the first time the two parties have collaborated. On September 25, 2018, KIPO and SAIP signed an MoU on bilateral cooperation in the field of intellectual property at a high-level meeting in Geneva.

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