US Energy Secretary Rick Perry goes ‘off-script’ at climate debate in Riyadh

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US Energy Secretary Rick Perry went “off-script” in a debate on climate change in Riyadh on Wednesday to make an awkward proposal for an unrelated robotics contest during a keynote panel with Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

Prince Abdulaziz had just outlined an approach to manage carbon emissions by focusing on developing a circular carbon economy — an alternative economy that applies the reuse, recovery and recycling methods of carbon-containing materials.

“I am just going to make a pitch. I saw the last four days, across the way in neighboring emirates, I saw this extraordinary global competition with young people, first Global Robotics Championship in Dubai,” Secretary Perry said on day two of the global Future Investment Initiative forum taking place on October 29-31.

“They want to bring that to the Kingdom,” Perry said, and added that: “I know that’s a little off-script here.”

Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, also participated in the panel and added that the United Arab Emirates is working towards a 45 percent renewables target by 2050.

In his keynote speech before the climate change panel, Prince Abdulaziz mentioned that Saudi Arabia has been working to ensure that it applies “nature-based solutions” that will play an important role in reducing its carbon footprint, such as expanding the Kingdom’s mangroves, coral reefs, and other natural wildlife habitats.

As one of the world’s leading economic forums, the FII event brings together over 6,000 attendees, including key world leaders and business moguls to discuss challenges, trends, and opportunities that are shaping the global investment landscape.

Later on Wednesday, US Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin also addressed delegates at the forum, while Senior adviser to US President Donald Trump Jared Kusher spoke on Tuesday at the event.

It is expected that Secretary Perry will resign from his role by December, according to US media reports. Earlier this month, President Trump said he would nominate Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette to be the next head of the department in place of Perry.

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