No ‘greenwashing,’ huge climate change investment needed, Saudi PIF chief tells FII

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Huge investments are needed to bridge resource gaps so that net zero carbon emission targets become feasible, however, a sense of urgency is still lacking, Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) head of global capital finance told the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference on Wednesday.

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Fahad al-Saif said reaching the objectives of the Paris Agreement will require systematic change and said investments are necessary to scale the technological innovations required to achieve real change, but, addressing the issue of trust, said standardization is needed to give “investor confidence.”

He also raised the issue of stopping “greenwashing;” saying people need to apply actionable change rather than simply talking or advertising about reducing carbon emissions or setting green goals.

He said the massive capital that has to be raised into the transition to greener economies is an issue, saying a sense of urgency is “not there yet.”

Speaking about Saudi Arabia, he said the Kingdom has set huge green initiatives, from becoming net-zero by 2060, while the country 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 Kingdom has also launched initiatives in the energy sector designed to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tons annually by 2030.

As panelists discussed how they consider how best to oversee the industry efforts to help cut greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century, al-Saif said it was the responsibility of the world’s biggest economies to ensure net zero commitments made by financial institutions were robust, and transparent.

“We have to collectively set expectations, and everyone should run the same pace,” he said. “If I have an initiative to raise capital there should be standardization.”

He said Saudi has made green targets “from the top down,” with PIF tasked to lead change in regards to capital fund deployment, from renewable energy to social change.

“We are keen and eager to spearhead change and to raising the bar in the region,” he said, adding that “capital funding has to be about best standards.”
“The Kingdom is playing a major role to ensure we set the new benchmarks,” he said. “We are willing to take that chance.”

He said the “intent” and “trajectory” for climate change is there in the Kingdom, and said Saudi Arabia, despite its “dramatic” change to renewable energy transition would not be making a “U-turn” on its plans and will aim to be a regional and world leader in green energy solutions.

“Saudi Arabia wants to ensure there is affordable energy, commitment to climate change and affordable communities and cities.”

Julia Hoggett, CEO of the London Stock Exchange, also addressed the forum, saying the COP26 to be held on Sunday – with the aim of accelerating the goals of the Paris Agreement - will lead to a critical six months where global leaders “turn those announcements into action.”

The fifth edition of FII, Saudi Arabia’s annual investment forum, is taking place between October 26 to 28 this year in the Kingdom’s capital Riyadh under the theme of ‘Invest in Humanity.’

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