Saudi Arabia fleshes out its green targets during first day of SGI forum

SHARM EL SHEIKH: Saudi Arabia revealed new information on its three Saudi Green Initiative targets on Friday, the first day of the SGI Forum in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh resort town.

The Kingdom has accelerated the pace of its climate action and is aiming to achieve the SGI target of placing 30 percent of its land and sea under protection by 2030, and planting over 600 million trees within the same timeframe – an increase of over 150 million trees from the initial goal to plant 450 million by 2030.

The initiative, which was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year, is a roadmap for Saudi Arabia’s climate action, paving the way for the Kingdom’s plan to reach net zero emissions by 2060.

Speaking during a side event at the UN Climate Change Conference the Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said his country not only aims to support initiatives within the Kingdom, but also developing countries.

He added that innovation was key to supporting the next generation, the plants and wildlife, oil, and renewable energies, but practices were needed to complete and utilize the current energy usages, but also to work toward transitioning.

Prince Abdulaziz called on consumers to also take precautions as they use a significant amount of energy consumption, while also stressing that Saudi Aramco and other national groups and organizations are taking similar steps toward reducing decarbonization, and the use of ammonia.

“The entire government is working in unison to deliver the Saudi Green Initiative. Next year, we will be finalizing the plans for developing 10 more renewable energy projects and connecting an additional 840 MW of solar PV power to our grid,” Prince Abdulaziz said. “Today, we are announcing that we will launch a GHG crediting and offsetting scheme at the beginning of 2023 to support and incentivize efforts and investments in emission reduction and removal projects in all sectors in the Kingdom.”

Over the past year, Saudi Arabia has accelerated the pace of its climate action and the Kingdom aims to achieve the SGI target of placing 30 percent of its land and sea under protection by 2030, and planting over 600 million trees within the same timeframe, an increase of over 150 million trees from the initial goal to plant 450 million by 2030.

During the SGI Forum, the minister of energy also announced the signing of a Joint Development Agreement with Saudi Aramco for one of the largest planned Carbon Capture and Storage hubs in the world. The center in Jubail Industrial City will start operating by 2027 and be able to extract and store million mtpa of CO2 in its first phase, supporting Saudi Arabia’s aim to extract, use and store 44 mtpa of CO2 by 2035.

He also witnessed the launch of three pilot projects for carbon capture and utilization led by KAUST, NEOM and SEC; Alsafwa Cement Company and Ma’aden and Gulf Cryo, to further the implementation of the circular carbon economy framework and reduce emissions in hard-to-abate sectors.

Since SGI was launched, over 18 million trees have been planted, and 17 new initiatives have been launched across the country to restore natural greenery and protect against the impacts of climate change. Out of the total, 13 million trees planted in the Kingdom this year have been mangroves.

The regeneration of Saudi Arabia’s natural wetland forests is a living barrier against shoreline erosion and a natural defense against climate change, with the trees sequestering five times more carbon than tropical forests. In contribution to the 10 billion trees target, this year NEOM has announced that 1.5 million hectares of land will be rehabilitated, and 100 million native trees, shrubs and grasses planted by 2030.

Abdulrahman AlFadley, Saudi minister of environment, water and agriculture said: “Saudi Arabia is taking environmental action on a national, regional and international level. As a global community, we have to work comprehensively and take multiple actions in parallel. In Saudi Arabia we have a clear strategy that identifies the gaps we have in our environmental policy and works to find nature-based solutions.”

Tarek El-Molla, Egyptian minister of petroleum and mineral resources, said energy efficiency, reducing emissions, and decarbonization was also among his country’s major priorities, but called on companies and key players to play an active role in the solution, and would be most effective toward climate change and its strategies.

He said Egypt wants to be a main partner in environmental and carbon initiatives and is using COP27 as a first step to further improve their initiatives in the run up to the next global climate meeting, which will be hosted by the UAE next year.

Khaled Alhusaini, the senior engineer at the Saudi Ministry of Energy, said the Saudi Green Initiative paves the way for integrated work within the Kingdom’s different entities, ministries, organizations and companies working in the same strategic directions, “believing that shaping tomorrow through today’s actions.”

“The minister in the Ministry of Energy is working on many projects and initiatives, such as renewable energy, clean hydrogen production, and carbon capture utilization policy,” he told Arab News.

Regarding the youth, he stressed they play an important role and have employed several youths within the energy ministry, in the hope that they can deliver their strategic objectives and KPIs, and SGI aims to deliver on that.

“The big message for the world is that Saudi Arabia is changing, Saudi Arabia is making a big difference here within the Middle East region, so we are enjoying that (we can) deliver the message to that and to the people here,” he said.

“So many people are impressed by the efforts of Saudi Arabia, they say they have seen the projects, what is done, what is going on and what is the plan for the future,” he said. “This is a big message to the world that Saudi Arabia has a dream and acting for that’s achievable.”

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