© 2020 All rights reserved to Maaal Newspaper
Publisher: Maaal International Media Company
*By: Kamal Al Dihan
The global community finds itself confronted with an urgent environmental dilemma, as we grapple with the tough challenge of altering our collective conduct and undertaking affirmative measures to address the pressing issue of climate change. In the face of this tough challenge, Greta Thunberg, a 20-year-old climate advocate, has emerged as a symbol of pessimism. She has been used and amplified to ignite a global campaign for climate action. Greta highlights the cognitive obstacles that hinder one-sided pro-environmental (PEB) behaviour. Greta joined a diligent working group accusing Russia and advocating it to assume responsibility and provide ecological reparations. Somehow, she has been engaged in a meeting with the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The primary objective of this meeting was to shed light upon the detrimental environmental repercussions stemming from the ongoing conflict, while simultaneously expressing disapproval towards the global community’s response to the catastrophic collapse of the massive Kakhovka hydroelectric dam. In today’s digital age, we witness an abundance of online platforms flooded with visual content showcasing the actions of conscientious environmental advocates waving signs, eagerly urging for an immediate cessation of oil-related activities, while simultaneously employing disruptive tactics such as obstructing main roads to amplify their message on a global scale. Greta and other environmental activists hold the same message but differ in ways of expression. We, as Saudi men and women never elicit role models from others, there are many young talented Saudi men and women that are well educated and empowered to work under one umbrella to protect the environment of the kingdom. They are our role models and source of inspiration. Their efforts flow into one stream to achieve environmental sustainability with the support and participation of the government. Nevertheless, assessing the conduct of Greta Thunberg or any other environmental advocates is beyond the purview of this particular article. The purpose of this article is to shed light on Saudi Arabia’s commendable endeavours in mitigating the impacts of climate change.
Saudi Arabia is diligently working to implement the principles of the circular business/economy model as a strategic approach to address the pressing issue of climate change. By 2030, the Saudi government has set forth a visionary plan to shift 50% of its domestic energy supply toward embracing renewable sources. Saudi Arabia has implemented a range of visionary policies aimed at promoting environmental stewardship and combating the pressing issue of climate change. Notably, the Kingdom has spearheaded the National Renewable Energy Programme, a ground-breaking initiative that seeks to harness the power of renewable resources and propel the nation towards a greener future. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has embraced the transformative potential of the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Forum 2022 to shed further light on the Kingdom’s visionary plan to transform the dry desert into a lush oasis through the planting of an astounding 10 billion trees. This ambitious objective necessitates meticulous planning in order to ensure its successful realisation. The climate change file holds great significance for Saudi Arabia, to such an extent that the SGI meetings are convened on a yearly basis under the esteemed patronage of HRH Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince, and Prime Minister. Notably, the Envoy for Climate Affairs is none other than the esteemed former Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Adel Al Jubeir. Monetary returns do not serve as the principal motivator for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is making a commendable transition from conventional energy sources to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative. Some of the initiatives that the kingdom is considering, such as investing in wind energy and eliminating methanol, will surely enhance the quality of life by seamlessly integrating environmental protection, energy transition, and sustainability programmes.
This is a bold, top-down sustainable transition plan. Climate change and sustainability transition rank among the paramount concerns for Saudi Arabia’s esteemed ruling elite. In recent times, Saudi government has taken decisive action by implementing novel policies, imparting invaluable knowledge to the forthcoming generations, endorsing astute governance strategies, and imposing stringent penalties for any transgressions that may harm the environment. In Saudi Arabia, we find a remarkable number of individuals who are fervent advocates for environmental causes, including esteemed members of the government. The government of Saudi Arabia objects to the unreasonable exploitation of our precious natural resources, the desecration of our sacred land, and the reckless disregard for our cherished environment at large. The esteemed corporations of Saudi Arabia, including the famous Aramco and Sabic, are diligently implementing stringent measures and harnessing state-of-the-art technologies to protect our precious environment. Environmental protection is of paramount importance for global organisations. The kingdom possesses the utmost capacity to minimize environmental harm and mitigate climate change.
Vision 2030 serves as a paramount catalyst propelling Saudi Arabia’s steady dedication to the preservation of our environment. In light of the pressing imperative to limit greenhouse gas emissions and protect our precious environment, the Kingdom has admirably forged ahead in diversifying its economy and embracing renewable energy sources. Saudi Arabia, a nation steadfast in its dedication to sustainable development, is firmly committed to attaining its climate objectives. As a proud participant in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and a dedicated supporter of the Paris Agreement, the Saudi Arabian government is fully devoted to the noble cause of limiting and diminishing greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the mutually agreed-upon individual objectives.
According to multiple environmental scientists, if the current trajectory of warming persists, it is projected that our beloved planet will undergo a 1.5°C climate alteration by the year 2040. This impending transformation carries profound implications for our environment, society, and the pursuit of sustainability. Under the exceptional leadership of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the esteemed H.E. Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Energy, no challenge is impossible. Now, it is indisputable that in the presence of determination, there invariably exists a pathway to success. In the year 2020, a momentous achievement was realized with the unveiling of the National Strategy for the Environment. This strategic approach has laid the foundation for the creation of the National Centre for Monitoring Compliance with Environmental Law and its Implementing Regulations. The ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture is expected to assume a pivotal role in upholding and preserving the environment of our cherished Kingdom. The utmost goal at hand is to guarantee the protection and prudent utilisation of our invaluable natural resources. By providing unparalleled services, the ministry will strive to elevate the collective commitment to environmental regulations and standards, thus propelling our great nation towards a healthier and more sustainable future.
Saudi Arabia is committed to make substantial investments in the promising fields of hydrogen and nuclear energy. According to David Edmondson, the CEO of the Green Hydrogen Company- NEOM, there exists a remarkable opportunity for hydrogen in the illustrious Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom, renowned for its ambitious clean hydrogen production targets, both of the blue and green diversity, predicts a remarkable output of 2.9 million tonnes per year by the year 2030, followed by an even more impressive 4 million tonnes per year by the year 2035. Oxagon-NEOM stands as an extraordinary exemplar of the immense renewable power initiatives, transcending boundaries and spearheading the production of green hydrogen on a monumental scale. It is widely believed that Saudi Arabia, a nation of great potential, is already embarking on a transformative journey towards generating sustainable energy that will effectively replace approximately 500,000 barrels of crude oil. Moreover, the kingdom is expected to produce a remarkable 630,000 barrels of natural gas liquids each day by the year 2030. This ambitious endeavour showcases Saudi Arabia’s commitment to embracing cleaner and more practical and efficient energy sources for generations to come, thereby contributing to a greener and more sustainability. In February of the year 2022, Saudi Arabia made an announcement regarding the establishment of the Nuclear Holding Company. This entity shall assume the crucial role of spearheading the development of nuclear capabilities within the kingdom. The establishment of the said entity was initially alluded to in the year 2013. This did not transpire expeditiously, but rather it was a sustained endeavour initiated around year 2006 when the GGC declared that the Council was embarking upon a comprehensive examination pertaining to the peaceful utilisation of nuclear energy. Nuclear power stands as the sole embodiment of electricity generation that possesses the remarkable ability to provide a ceaseless, unwavering energy supply, unencumbered by the release of any greenhouse gas emissions. It is no surprise that the Kingdom land is blessed with great privilege, as it contains a remarkable 6 to 8 percent of the Arabian Shield Uranium beneath its surface. These magnificent endeavours are indispensable components in the pursuit of reducing emissions in accordance with our ambitious ‘Net-Zero-by-2060’ objective.
These numerous measures, among others, serve as compelling evidence that Saudi Arabia is resolutely dedicated to attaining net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, surpassing numerous industrialized nations in this endeavour. In tackling the matter of elevated emissions, the Kingdom has made commendable strides in advancing energy efficiency and executing initiatives that harness the power of renewable energy sources. To achieve this noble objective, the kingdom has taken the initiative to establish the Saudi Energy Efficiency Centre. Its primary aim is to enhance the efficiency of energy production and consumption, thereby enabling the government to fulfil its profound commitment to meet the prescribed climate targets.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that Saudi Arabia has demonstrated a commendable commitment to tackling a range of pressing challenges. These include but are not limited to the pressing matters of escalating vehicle density, the scourge of dust storms, the prudent management of water resources, the battle against desertification, the preservation of precious wildlife, exploration of the archaeological sites and the imperative of ensuring the sustainability of human resources and the health sector. Efforts are being undertaken to establish robust national strategies, elevate environmental compliance standards, and cultivate a steadfast culture of responsible environmental ethics in light of these formidable challenges.
This ambitious strategy cannot be achieved without a centred education system. Henceforth, the ministry of education has taken the initiative to introduce novel disciplines and revamp the educational curricula of our institutions, all in a concentrated effort to align with the demands of the present era, while ensuring that the prospects of future generations remain unharmed. This noble endeavour aims to cultivate the indispensable human capital essential for fostering sustainable development, by providing inclusive and top-tier education to the generations. In the realm of scholarship programmes, it is with great pleasure that opportunities are widely available in highly regarded international universities for all with no distinctions are made based on gender or age.
Concerning the socioeconomic aspect, Saudi Arabia, a nation of great discernment, recognizes the imperative nature of implementing sustainable family planning measures, given the projected surge in population to a staggering 45 million by the year 2050. In acknowledging the profound environmental implications of population expansion, it is imperative for the Kingdom to foster a heightened consciousness regarding the paramount importance of prudent family planning and its inherent link to the battle against climate change. However, the present population figures do not pose any cause for concern for numerous years to come.
Saudi Arabia’s unwavering dedication to the preservation of our environment is firmly grounded in the sacred tenets of our religious and cultural heritage. Taking cues from the profound wisdom of Islamic teachings (sharia), the Kingdom places paramount importance on the noble endeavour of protecting our precious planet and its cherished inhabitants. The Qur’an holds many verses that advocate for caring for the land, sea, and living creatures. In sort Ar-Rūm (41) Allah said (Evil (sins and disobedience of Allah, etc.) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of people have earned (by oppression and evil deeds, etc.), that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allah, and begging His Pardon. This phrase clearly expresses the responsibility of humans to prevent corruption and environmental degradation which is forbidden in Islam.
Saudi Arabia is diligently laying the foundation for a future that is both environmentally conscious and sustainable. Our great nation is making astute investments in cutting-edge technologies and robust infrastructure, all geared towards harnessing the immense potential of renewable energy. As previously articulated, these initiatives align with the global environmental objectives and reinforce the Kingdom’s comprehensive strategy for economic and social advancement. Saudi Arabia is truly demonstrating a commendable commitment to environmental stewardship. In my estimation, the kingdom is undertaking substantial measures to address the issue of climate change and protect our invaluable natural resources. In the global pursuit of sustainable solutions, the Kingdom has emerged as an exemplar, leading the charge in tackling both immediate exigencies and long-term aspirations in the noble fight against climate change. Saudi Arabia is diligently endeavouring to achieve a harmonious equilibrium between matters of faith, ideological perspectives, and the imperative pursuit of climate action. It is imperative to recognize the pivotal role that technology plays in the battle against climate change, all the while ensuring that our cherished traditional values harmoniously coexist with sustainable practises. By undertaking this endeavour, the Kingdom has the opportunity to cultivate a unified ethos of accountability and embrace a shared dedication to preserving the environment for posterity. While challenges persist, Saudi Arabia’s unwavering commitment to combatting climate change exemplifies its steadfast dedication to assuming a responsible role on the global stage. The Kingdom’s commendable endeavours have not only garnered widespread acclaim on the international stage but have also served as a source of inspiration for other nations grappling with comparable challenges. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the governing body takes great strides to foster a culture of environmental stewardship, diligently advocating for pro-environmental behaviour and conscientiously raising awareness about the detrimental consequences of climate change. Henceforth, it is unequivocally evident that any revised regulatory and governing measures and policies levied with the intention of protecting our precious environment are legitimate and justifiable. Preserving this invaluable legacy for future generations is of utmost importance. Now, are we all prepared to wholeheartedly endorse the government’s efforts and construct a bottom-up approach to combat the pressing issue of climate change?
Kamal Al Dihan
An independent researcher specializing in sustainability and socio-economic issues