Guest Post By Yahya Alqahtani, Renewable Energy & Climate Change Specialist, Howard University, Washington DC
Saudi Arabia is the largest country in oil production, worldwide. It is also the most effective player in stabilizing the global oil price due to its position in leading the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Since 2016 Saudi Arabia has launched multiple initiatives to help create different types of energy resources. Saudi’s target is to have 50% of electricity generated from green energy by 2030. The Green Saudi and Green Middle East initiatives were recently announced by the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), and are part of the Saudi 2030 vision.
The Saudi Crown Prince, MBS, expresses the nation’s responsibility in combating climate change in his statement “As a leading global oil producer, we are fully aware of our share of responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis, and that, as our pioneering role in stabilizing energy markets during the oil and gas era, we will act to lead the next green era,” (MBS)
The Green Saudi Initiative aims to plant 10 Billion trees across Saudi in the upcoming decades, which is equivalent to 1% of the global goal in combating climate change. This will increase the country’s vegetation coverage 12 times its current size. It also aims to reduce about 130 Million tons of CO2 emissions.
The Green Middle East Initiative aims to plant 40 billion trees across the Middle East. This will help reduce the CO2 emission resulting from the hydrocarbon production in the region by 60%. Also, the initiative aims to enhance the efficiency of hydrocarbon technologies in the region. Another goal is to rehabilitate and reforest more than 40 hectares of degraded land. This initiative has been welcomed by many Middle Eastern leaders and the initial communication has started.
It was also welcomed by the UN, according to Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that said “We’re following with great interest the efforts made by countries like Saudi Arabia to step up their climate ambitions.”
Global warming is the top threat to our planet. According to a study concluded by Saudi officials, “ An annual average of $13 Billion was lost due to the region’s sand storms”. Their studies also show that the populations’ average age is decreasing by 1.5 years due to carbon emissions. Applying such initiatives, in addition to the increase in renewable energy use, will result in a positive impact on climate change.