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.

WEF: Coronavirus to remain ‘clear and present danger’

WEF: Coronavirus to remain ‘clear and present danger’
Updated 20 January 2021

WEF: Coronavirus to remain ‘clear and present danger’

WEF: Coronavirus to remain ‘clear and present danger’
  • Disease the top risk to global security and livelihoods over the next two years
  • ‘The immediate human and economic cost of COVID-19 is severe’

DUBAI: The risk from infectious diseases remains a “clear and present danger” even as vaccines are being rolled out to counter the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In its latest annual Global Risk Report, most respondents said that disease was the top risk to global security and livelihoods over the next two years.

In the medium to long term, they were worried about financial crises in the shape of asset bubbles arising from the pandemic economic crisis, and over the next 10 years the “existential threat” of weapons of mass destruction was the biggest fear.

In the gloomiest risk report for many years, the WEF said: “The immediate human and economic cost of COVID-19 is severe. It threatens to scale back years of progress on reducing poverty and inequality and to further weaken social cohesion and global cooperation.

“Job losses, a widening digital divide, disrupted social interactions, and abrupt shifts in markets could lead to dire consequences and lost opportunities for large parts of the global population.

“The ramifications — in the form of social unrest, political fragmentation, and geopolitical tensions — will shape the effectiveness of our responses to the other key threats of the next decade; cyberattacks, weapons of mass destruction and, most notably, climate change,” it added.

Environmental issues were also a key concern of respondents to the risk survey, with the likelihood of extreme weather, climate change failure, and human environmental damage the top three risks rated most likely.

Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, and Saadia Zahidi, its managing director, said that the WEF had been warning of the danger of pandemics since 2006.

“In 2020, the risk of a global pandemic became reality. As governments, businesses, and societies survey the damage inflicted over the last year, strengthening strategic foresight is now more important than ever.

“In some cases, disparities in health outcomes, technology, or workforce opportunities are the direct result of the dynamics the pandemic created. In others, already present societal divisions have widened, straining weak safety nets and economic structures beyond capacity,” they added.

Some countries in the Middle East have handled the pandemic crisis relatively well, the WEF said. “Capacities and responses varied greatly but relatively young populations may have spared the region from higher death tolls; however, data in some locations are uncertain.

“Some nations with advanced medical systems and regimes able to enforce lockdowns and other social restrictions along with border controls have managed successive waves of infections.

“Other, poorer nations, and those that are fragile and in conflict situations, however, are suffering exacerbated economic and humanitarian challenges,” the report said.

The WEF highlighted the problems of young people, whom it labelled “pandemials.” It said: “The world’s youth have faced exceptional pressures in the past decade and are particularly vulnerable to missing out altogether on the opportunities of the next.”