Saudi Crown Prince announces two massive green initiatives to combat climate change
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Saudi Crown Prince announces two massive green initiatives to combat climate change

Saudi Crown Prince announces two massive green initiatives to combat climate change

The overall regional tree planting programme (with 50 billion trees) is claimed to be the largest reforestation programme in the world

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Arabia has launched two new green initiatives as part of efforts to combat climate change.

Launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the ‘Saudi Green Initiative’ and the ‘Middle East Green Initiative’ aim to support the kingdom and the region by providing a clear roadmap to reduce emissions.

As a leading global oil producer, the kingdom ‘fully recognises its share of responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis’, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted the Crown Prince as saying.

Saudi Arabia and the region face “significant climate challenges”, such as desertification, an immediate economic risk to the kingdom and the region ($13bn is currently lost due to dust storms in the region every year), he explained.

Air pollution from greenhouse gases also is estimated to have shortened average Saudi life expectancy by 1.5 years.

“We will work through the Saudi Green Initiative to raise the vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution and land degradation and preserve marine life,” he added.

The initiative will include the planting of 10 billion trees within the kingdom in the upcoming decades, the equivalent to rehabilitating roughly 40 million hectares of degraded lands, translating to a 12-fold increase from current tree covers.

The move will represent more than 4 per cent of the goals of the global initiative to limit the degradation of lands and fungal habitats, and 1 per cent of the global target to plant 1 trillion trees.

The kingdom will also work to raise the percentage of protected areas to more than 30 per cent of its total land area, representing roughly 600,000 square kilometres, exceeding the current global target of 17 per cent.

It will also launch initiatives to protect marine and coastal environments.

The Saudi Green Initiative will also work to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4 per cent of global contributions.

That will be achieved by adopting a renewable energy programme that will generate 50 per cent of the kingdom’s energy from renewables by 2030; through projects in the fields of clean hydrocarbon technologies that are estimated to eliminate more than 130 MT of carbon emissions; and by raising the rate of waste diversion from landfills to reach 94 per cent in the kingdom.

Prince Mohammed also launched the Middle East Green Initiative in coordination with other countries in the GCC and across the region to plant an additional 40 billion trees in the Middle East.

The overall regional tree planting programme (with 50 billion trees) is claimed to be the largest reforestation programme in the world, twice the size of the Great Green Wall in the Sahel (the second largest such regional initiative).

The project will restore an area equivalent to 200 million hectares of degraded land, representing 5 per cent of the global target of planting one trillion trees and reducing 2.5 per cent of global carbon levels.

The initiative also seeks to increase the share of clean energy production in the Middle East over the current 7 per cent by sharing knowledge on advanced technologies which will contribute to reducing carbon emissions resulting from hydrocarbon production in the region by more than 60 per cent.

These joint efforts will aim to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions by more than 10 per cent of global contributions.

Next steps

Prince Mohammed stressed that the new initiatives comes following efforts to protect the planet announced during the kingdom’s presidency of the G20 summit last year, in which a dedicated environmental declaration was issued; the concept of circular carbon economy was adopted; and the first environmental taskforce was established. Two global initiatives to reduce land degradation and protection of coral reefs were also launched at the event.

He said the kingdom has also carried out a comprehensive restructuring of the environmental sector locally, established the Environmental Special Forces in 2019, raised the percentage of natural reserves from 4 per cent to more than 14 per cent and increased vegetation cover by 40 per cent in the past four years.

“I am proud to announce the Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives, but this is only a start. The kingdom, the region and the world needs to go much further and faster in combatting climate change. Given our starting point, beginning this journey to a greener future has not been easy. But in line with our overall modernisation philosophy, we are not avoiding tough choices,” he said.

“We reject the false choice between preserving the economy and protecting the environment. Climate action will enhance competitiveness, spark innovation, and create millions of high-quality jobs. Young people, both in the kingdom and the world, are demanding a cleaner, greener and more inclusive future, and we owe it to them to deliver on this.”

Prince Mohammed added that further details of the Saudi Green Initiative will be announced in following months, and that a global forum with international partners for the Middle East Green Initiative will be held in the second quarter of next year.

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