Saudi Arabia’s planned megacity NEOM “represents a greener future for all us,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a video message recorded for the G20 Riyadh Leaders’ Summit on Saturday.
The environment is set to be one of the main talking points at this year’s virtual G20 meeting, with the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen already welcoming US President-elect Joe Biden’s pledge to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change.
In his recorded video message for the G20 given exclusively to Al Arabiya and Al Hadath, Johnson called for fellow G20 leaders to work together on climate change ahead of next month’s Clime Ambition Summit and pointed to NEOM as a future model.
“And if we were in Saudi Arabia today, we may have visited, what I would have loved to have done, was to visit the exciting new city of Neom, whose origins I was able to inspect a couple of years ago,” said Johnson.
“Built on the sands of fossil fuels but powered by green hydrogen, under an enviable climate, an enviably reliable sun to provide just inexhaustible solar energy, that city, that vision of Neom represents a greener future for all of us,” he added.
NEOM is a planned megacity on the Red Sea in northwestern Saudi Arabia. The project is integral to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan, which aims to diversify away from oil, and aims to be a carbon-free city.
Under the Presidency of Saudi Arabia, this year’s @g20org brings together global leadership to Realize Opportunities of the 21st Century. As the world looks to the future, check how it is being built in #NEOM.https://t.co/BIoWBVxwH2#G20#DiscoverNEOM pic.twitter.com/RMUv7cwF7o— NEOM (@NEOM) November 20, 2020
According to the NEOM website, the city will feature a 100 percent renewable energy system using extensive water, solar, and wind energy.
Johnson also pointed to the UK’s plans for a Green Industrial Revolution as an effort to tackle climate change.
“That future will only be possible if the world’s leading economies drive forward more ambitious action, more quickly to prevent further catastrophic climate change,” he said.
G20 Riyadh Summit
Johnson also thanked Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for the Kingdom’s leadership in the “turbulent times” of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Unfortunately, the circumstances have meant we couldn’t meet in Saudi Arabia, I couldn’t go to Saudi Arabia to meet everybody in person, but I want to thank King Salman for the Kingdom’s leadership of the G20 in turbulent times,” he said.
In line with other G20 leaders, Johnson called for cooperation to tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“As I’ve said before, it is only by joining forces and working together that we will defeat coronavirus and build back better from this crisis.”
“Our fates are in each other’s hands. The G20 committed in March to ‘do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic and protect lives and livelihoods,” added Johnson.
He also hailed “encouraging developments” on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, following promising test results from Moderna and Pfizer.
The G20 Leaders’ Summit is taking place virtually across Saturday November 21 to Sunday November 22. Nineteen world leaders and a representative of the European Union are meeting to discuss key global issues including coronavirus, climate change, and economic recovery.