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Saudi Arabia’s Green Initiative plan for net zero emissions explained

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Forum in Riyadh on Saturday, announcing that Saudi Arabia aims to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2060, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

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The Kingdom will also join the Global Methane Pledge to contribute to cutting global methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030, as part of its commitment to deliver a cleaner, greener future.

The ‘green’ forum is set to take place annually in the Saudi capital.

Initiatives

In his opening speech at the forum, the Crown Prince said the Kingdom has launched initiatives in the energy sector designed to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tons annually by 2030. This is more than doubling delivery against the emissions reduction target set forth at the announcement of the SGI summit in early 2021.

Read more: Saudi Aramco aims to achieve net-zero emissions from operations by 2050: CEO

He added that the first phase of afforestation initiatives has started, planting more than 450 million trees, rehabilitating eight million hectares of degraded lands, and allocating new protected areas, bringing the total protected areas in Saudi Arabia to more than 20 percent of its total area.

Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum 2021. (SPA)
Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum 2021. (SPA)

The country is also taking the lead in building a center for climate technologies in the Middle East and North Africa, according to SPA.

The Kingdom announced that at least 30 percent of cars in its capital Riyadh would be electric by 2030, as part of a plan to halve carbon emissions in the city of 8 million people over the next nine years.

According to SPA, the initiatives announced at the SGI Forum represent investments worth more than 700 billion riyals ($186.61 billion), which contributes to developing the green economy, creating quality job opportunities, and providing significant investment opportunities for the private sector in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Objectives

As part of its objectives, SGI affirms the Kingdom’s pioneering role and work to bring about a qualitative shift internally and regionally towards climate change to build a better future and improve the quality of life, SPA reported.

Since the launch of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in 2016, Saudi Arabia made effective efforts to protect the environment and reduce the effects of climate change.

SGI takes these efforts to the next level by unifying all sustainability efforts in the Kingdom to increase reliance on clean energy, offset the impact of fossil fuels and combat climate change.

The initiative aims to combine environmental protection, energy conversion, and sustainability programs to achieve three comprehensive goals aimed at building a sustainable future for all by reducing carbon emissions, afforestation of areas in Saudi Arabia, and protecting land and sea areas.

When it comes to energy, reducing carbon emissions is critical to slowing the effects of climate change and rebalancing the environment, SPA reported.

A woman records while Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the Saudi Green Initiative Forum to discuss efforts by the world's top oil exporter to tackle climate change in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 23, 2021. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
A woman records while Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the Saudi Green Initiative Forum to discuss efforts by the world's top oil exporter to tackle climate change in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 23, 2021. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Responses

The United Nations praised what it called Saudi Arabia’s “bold” climate action plans after the Kingdom officially submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) emissions pledge.

For his part, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Saturday and welcomed the green initiatives announced by the Kingdom to reduce greenhouse gases emissions.

King Salman asserted the Kingdom’s interest in environmental issues, clean energy and climate change as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

The United Kingdom’s Prince Charles said the Saudi Green Initiative and a wider Middle East Green Initiative, will help accelerate the great progress already made.

He pointed out that the Kingdom’s global leadership in energy transition is critically important.

“I can only say that it is enormously encouraging to see the commitment to diversifying its energy mix, recognizing the cascading economic and social environment benefits that renewable energy provides,” Prince Charles said.

Read more:

Saudi Arabia able to produce, integrate new forms of energy: Prince Abdulaziz

UN praises Saudi’s ‘bold’ climate action plans after emissions pledge

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