G20 backs Saudi Arabia’s circular carbon economy strategy

G20 backs Saudi Arabia’s circular carbon economy strategy
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Saudi energy minister. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 September 2020

G20 backs Saudi Arabia’s circular carbon economy strategy

G20 backs Saudi Arabia’s circular carbon economy strategy
  • Energy ministers from world’s leading economies endorse ‘holistic, integrated, inclusive and pragmatic approach to managing emissions’ 

DUBAI: Energy ministers from the G20 group of leading economies have endorsed Saudi Arabia’s approach to managing harmful greenhouse-gas emissions in the global campaign against climate change.

At the end of a two-day meeting organized by the Saudi G20 presidency in Riyadh, the ministers issued a communique acknowledging that the Circular Carbon Economy (CCE), the Kingdom’s contribution to the global environmental debate, offers “a holistic, integrated, inclusive and pragmatic approach to managing emissions that can be applied reflecting a country’s priorities and circumstances.”

They added that “by encompassing the broad range of pathways and options available, CCE takes into account different national circumstances, while striving to meet our shared global aspirations.”

CCE is an energy strategy that advocates the “three Rs” of environmentalism: reduce, reuse and recycle carbon products. Crucially, however, it adds a fourth R: remove, in an effort to eliminate harmful pollutants from the atmosphere.

The wording of the communique was debated by ministers during a lengthy closed session on Monday, under the chairmanship of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Saudi energy minister. It is believed that some countries argued that more emphasis should be put on a general global reduction in the use of hydrocarbon fuels.

The final communique represents a success for the Kingdom’s stance that all energy sources, and technology solutions, should be deployed in the efforts to implement a “green” recovery from the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The energy ministers recognized “the key importance of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, taking into account system efficiency and national circumstances, including its specific resources endowment and its political, economic, environmental, social and risk-informed development contexts,” they said.

During the virtual meeting, their second this year, they also highlighted the importance of energy security and market stability as part of the economic recovery strategy. The Energy Focus Group of the G20 “discussed a range of measures, including the adjustment of energy production, monitoring of consumption and supply reserves, and data transparency.”

Its work highlighted the importance of sustained capital investments to support short- and long-term global energy security and stability. Some experts fear that investment in new energy sources could be affected by low energy prices.

“We emphasize the need to prevent supply disruptions and promote open, free, flexible, transparent, competitive, stable and reliable international energy markets, and stress the importance of diversification of energy sources, suppliers and routes,” the ministers said.

They also noted that “the world is not on track to meet universal energy access and eradicate the impacts on vulnerable communities and meet our sustainable-development goals.”

In 2018, about 2.8 billion people still lacked access to clean cooking facilities, and nearly 800 million people had no electricity, while many more had limited or unreliable access, the ministers noted.

Saudi Arabia holds the presidency of the G20 this year. The group’s annual Leaders’ Summit is due to be held in Riyadh in November.