How Saudi Arabia is aiding global action on climate change

Analysis by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center showed that Saudi Arabia has become the third-fastest reducer of emission from fuel consumption among G20 countries. (Supplied)
1 / 2
Analysis by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center showed that Saudi Arabia has become the third-fastest reducer of emission from fuel consumption among G20 countries. (Supplied)
Alok Sharma, President of the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, poses for a photograph during his Bangladesh tour, in Dhaka. (AFP)
2 / 2
Alok Sharma, President of the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, poses for a photograph during his Bangladesh tour, in Dhaka. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 25 August 2021

How Saudi Arabia is aiding global action on climate change

Analysis by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center showed that Saudi Arabia has become the third-fastest reducer of emission from fuel consumption among G20 countries. (Supplied)
  • Human activity over the past century has fundamentally altered the natural order, according to a recent UN report
  • Saudi Arabia is setting the pace for the Arab region with accelerated steps to meet global climate objectives

JEDDAH: It is now indisputable: The planet is getting hotter, and unless governments take immediate action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, dramatic changes to the climate will become irreversible. That was the verdict of the world’s foremost climate scientists in a report published earlier this month.

Dubbed “code red for humanity” by UN chief Antonio Guterres, the report issued by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says human activity over the past century has already fundamentally altered the natural order.

To prevent a global temperature rise of more than 2 C by the year 2030, scientists believe governments must substantially cut their carbon emissions — and fast.

The effects of climate change are especially clear in the Arab states of the Middle East and North Africa region, where drought and temperatures in excess of 50 C have now become the norm.

 

Over the past 40 years alone, average temperatures in Saudi Arabia have risen by more than 2 C — three times the current global average.

“Global average temperatures can be misleading because they hide local temperature increases,” Natalia Odnoletkova, a Ph.D. student at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology majoring in earth sciences, told Arab News.

“Based on research, we concluded that the rate of temperature increase in Saudi Arabia is drastic. This is what people often misunderstand. When we speak in the context of just 1 degree, we should understand that global average temperature can be misleading.”

Perhaps the biggest environmental challenge facing the Kingdom and other MENA countries is water scarcity. Underground aquifers are not replenishing fast enough to meet commercial and industrial demand, while desalination techniques and foreign imports are damaging and unsustainable.

In response to mounting calls on all governments to act, the Kingdom ratified the Paris Agreement in November 2015 and communicated to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change its intention to cut up to 130 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030.

Early last year, analysis by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center showed that Saudi Arabia has become the third-fastest reducer of emission from fuel consumption among G20 countries.

It found that CO2 emissions in the Kingdom had fallen by 26 million tons — down some 4.4 percent over the previous year.

Even if societies move away from fossil fuels, there is no guarantee temperatures will remain stable enough for the planet to cool. Governments will also have to invest in restoration to repair the damage inflicted on the environment over many decades.




Saudis work at a solar panel factory in Uyayna, north of Riyadh. (AFP/File Photo)

This year’s record-breaking summer temperatures, flash flooding across China, central Europe and the US — and simultaneous forest fires on almost every continent — have been cited as the latest destructive manifestations of accelerating climate change.

The burning of fossil fuels, the clearing of forests to make way for agriculture and industry, and the ravaging of vulnerable ocean ecosystems by chemical pollutants have rapidly increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

After the first Industrial Revolution began in the 1750s, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere gradually rose to about 5 billion tons per year by the mid-20th century, before skyrocketing to more than 35 billion tons by the end of the century.

“An all-hands-on-deck approach is needed in order to meet our shared climate goals,” Carlos Duarte, a professor of marine science at KAUST and an internationally renowned marine biologist, told Arab News.




This NASA image obtained October 6, 2014 shows heat radiating from the Pacific Ocean as imaged by the NASA’s Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System instrument on the Terra satellite. (AFP via NASA/File Photo)

“This requires global collaboration and activating all options, even those that do not seem to currently have a sufficient scale.

“Once we achieve these goals, the world needs to embrace a program of atmospheric restoration, as holding CO2 levels at the threshold may lead to unpleasant and catastrophic surprises if events, either natural or anthropogenic but unanticipated, lead to a release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

INNUMBERS

* 137m MWH - Electricity consumption in KSA residential sector in 2020.

* 144m MWH - Electricity consumption in KSA residential sector in 2015.

That is why, in the lead-up to November’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Saudi Arabia has joined the club of countries and associations that have launched bold efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, restore ecosystems and reduce their environmental footprint.

Saudi Arabia has pioneered the framework of the Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) as a way of tackling the climate change challenge. This approach was endorsed unanimously last year at the G20 summit of world leaders under the Saudi presidency.

CCE advocates the reduction, recycling and reuse of carbon emissions across industrial processes, which are goals that are now familiar and accepted across the world as a way of mitigating harmful emissions.

Carbon capture, utilization and storage are essential if greenhouse gases are to be gradually eliminated as a threat to the atmosphere and the environment.

The Kingdom is also leading the way in the GCC with the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative, which aim to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent with the help of clean hydrocarbon technologies and by planting 50 billion trees, including 10 billion in the Kingdom.

“Afforestation projects can indeed contribute to removing CO2, increasing biodiversity and avoiding land degradation,” said Duarte.

“They need to be very carefully planned, monitored and protected. Achieving the very ambitious goals of afforestation under the Saudi Green initiative will be indeed very challenging, but will generate major benefits to the Kingdom and the planet.”

These positive steps were recently acknowledged by John Kerry, the US climate envoy, who also lauded Riyadh’s plan to invest $5 billion in the world’s largest green hydrogen plant in NEOM — the smart city under construction on the Red Sea coast.  




Saudi Arabia has ratified the Paris Agreement in November 2015 and communicated to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change its intention to cut up to 130 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030. (AFP/File Photo)

As part of the framework for local action on climate change, NEOM is exploring several potential initiatives to combat rising temperatures as well as restore ecosystems, including one critical marine discovery that could benefit other coastal habitats.

Researchers claim that many coral species found off the Red Sea coast of NEOM appear to be preconditioned to survive in higher sea-surface temperatures.

“This natural resilience provides an opportunity for NEOM to grow corals that can be used for reef-restoration activities and it is planning the world’s largest coral garden from nursery-grown corals,” Damien Trinder, Acting Chief Environment Officer at NEOM, told Arab News.

“This program may also help offset the impacts of climate change already reported in other parts of the world by providing resilient coral strains for export globally.”

Another innovation championed by NEOM is a plan to increase the use of locally and regionally grown native plants in gardens and public spaces.

“These species are naturally adapted to hot, dry conditions, use significantly less water than non-native species and provide additional habitats for birds, insects, and other fauna,” said Trinder.

Indeed, while governments are busy looking for ways to prevent the further warming of the planet, they are also searching for ways to adapt to already fast-evolving habitats. But that is not to say the world should sit on its hands and accept climate change is inevitable, say scientists.

“Our choices today can make a real positive difference,” said Trinder. “In the same way, we can make choices, such as making sure we minimize electricity use in offices and homes and selecting local produce over imported, which can help both the climate as well as the local economy.”

------------------

Twitter: @Rawanradwan8


Diplomats in Riyadh discuss sustainability perspectives ahead of Season 8 of Formula E World Championship

Panelists discuss climate and sustainability perspectives at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Panelists discuss climate and sustainability perspectives at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 29 January 2022

Diplomats in Riyadh discuss sustainability perspectives ahead of Season 8 of Formula E World Championship

Panelists discuss climate and sustainability perspectives at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh. (Supplied)
  • Diplomats: Spreading truth about climate change is important

RIYADH: Spreading the truth about climate change and the need for sustainability is very important in relation to a changing climate, and how it impacts life on Earth, said panelists at a discussion hosted by the Swedish and Swiss embassies to the Kingdom.

Swedish Ambassador Niclas Trouvé and his Swiss counterpart André Schaller jointly organized the discussion on climate and sustainability perspectives on Thursday night, at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh, where some of the best drivers in motorsport have gathered ahead of Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

The much anticipated first race on Friday night begins with a double-header in Diriyah, promising an exhilarating race experience using electric cars.

Ambassador of Sweden to Saudi Arabia Niclas Trouvé speaking at discussion. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Run under LED lights at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Riyadh, the night races, which will take place on Jan. 28 and 29, are being held in the Kingdom for the fourth consecutive year since the venue joined the calendar in 2018.

Speaking to Arab News, Trouvé said: “We had an important discussion in the panel. The occasion why we are here is the ABB-sponsored Formula E race. What is interesting now is the feel here in the Kingdom, and also of course in Sweden and Switzerland and the rest of the world, the enormous push that we feel now for sustainable green solutions.

Switzerland ambassador André Schaller speaking at discussion. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

“As I shared with the audience here at the discussion, almost half of the new cars that were sold in Sweden last year were non-carbon, nonfossil, i.e electric or hybrid cars. Around the world, we now see an enormous push for electric vehicles like the Formula E races, as we will see on Friday night in Diriyah.

“Sweden and Switzerland’s embassies co-hosted the panel discussion, and we are both at the forefront, we want to cooperate with the Kingdom, we want co-creation and innovation together with our Saudi friends and we are ready for business and investment to make the Vision 2030 a reality so that Saudi Arabia also can continue on this very important role towards the sustainable carbon-free future,”said the envoy.

Audience at Panel discussion on climate & sustainability perspectives at Swedish Embassy. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Schaller said: “Congratulation to Saudi Arabia and also to the ABB for bringing Formula E World Championship races to Diriyah for the fourth consecutive time. It is a race to the future — for the sustainable future — and it also crosses the rich history and heritage in the Kingdom in front of the wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site.

“It’s also about the message, the message that if you can do races like this with sustainable and renewable energy-backed electric cars, you can apply the same for commercial vehicles,” said Schaller adding “these cars do not carry passengers, but it carries an important message.”

Audience at Panel discussion on climate & sustainability perspectives at Swedish Embassy. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle said: “We are delighted to be back to Diriyah for the fourth time, Saudi Arabia is one of the features in the race series of our global calendar. For the last two years we were not able to host the fans because of the coronavirus pandemic. We are happy to host the fans this time, that’ great news.

“We will be doing the live race for the second time ever under the lights, and this is going to be carbon neutral using electric vehicles, and LED lighting. All of the energy consumed for the race is biofuel.”

Another panelist, Mohammed Al-Mousa, county managing director of ABB Saudi Arabia, said that technology leader ABB has played a crucial role over years in the Kingdom and is keen to continue the success story of demonstrating sustainable energy commitment, e-mobility and carbon neutrality.

 


KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali

KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali
Updated 29 January 2022

KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali

KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali

RIYADH:  The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has signed an executive program to support orphans in Mali, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It will benefit 1,317 individuals in the cities and towns of Bamako, Koulikoro, Segou, Gao, and Sikasso.

The program was signed by Ahmed bin Ali Al-Baiz, assistant general supervisor for operations and programs at KSrelief, and aims to provide a cash guarantee for orphans which will be delivered to them every three months for a year. 

It will pay fees and register orphans aged between seven and 15, economically empower their families by training women to master sewing skills and provide them with the necessary tools, as well as distributing sheep to needy families.

The program comes as part of the projects offered by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to orphans in order to improve their living conditions in various needy countries.


Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals
Updated 29 January 2022

Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Rabab Khodary has been health economics and  market access manager for hemato-oncology at Janssen Pharmaceuticals of Johnson and Johnson since May 2021.

During her time in the role, she has helped to accelerate patients’ access to innovative products through operational processes in the public sector and by analyzing business challenges and opportunities within the Saudi healthcare sector.

She joined GlaxoSmithKline in 2015 as a future leader management trainee and held the position of associate market access and pricing manager from 2017 until 2021.

In 2017, while working for GSK, she received a bronze award in a global employee recognition program, following that up with a silver award in 2019, after heading a women’s leadership initiative and project leading the business development, communications, health, and well-being departments.

From 2013 to 2014, she was Batterjee Medical College’s head of clinical skills, a department she established with the Jeddah-based institution’s head of medicine.

Khodary gained a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah in 2006, and a master’s degree in cell and molecular biology from San Francisco State University in 2012. She was also a researcher for a cell and molecular biology lab in California, and for King Fahd Medical Research Center in Jeddah.

Between 2006 and 2007, she worked on cytogenetics, molecular genetics, and tissue typing in a Saudi blood bank laboratory. She has obtained a number of professional certifications, including in health economics policy, and a negotiation program from The London School of Economics and Political Science.


Thailand’s labor, tourism sectors gear up for opportunities in Saudi Arabia

In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Palace in Riyadh Tuesday. (AP)
In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Palace in Riyadh Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 29 January 2022

Thailand’s labor, tourism sectors gear up for opportunities in Saudi Arabia

In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Palace in Riyadh Tuesday. (AP)
  • Labor cooperation deal signed during PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s historic Jan. 25-26 visit to Riyadh
  • Thailand to welcome more tourists from Kingdom following restoration of bilateral ties

BANGKOK: Thailand’s labor and tourism sector stakeholders on Friday said they were looking forward to exploring opportunities in Saudi Arabia in the wake of a restoration of ties between the two countries following the Thai prime minister’s visit to Riyadh.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was in the Saudi capital on Jan. 25 and 26 on the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the first top leadership meeting between the nations in more than three decades.

One of the agreements signed during the trip was a labor cooperation deal, which Thai government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Thursday was expected to take force within two months.

Saudi Arabia was at one time a popular destination for Thai expats with more than 300,000 of them living and working in the Kingdom during the 1980s. Currently, there are less than 1,350 Thai workers in Saudi Arabia, employed mainly as welders, technicians, and household staff, according to Thailand’s labor ministry data.

Aranya Sakulkosol, chairman of the Thai Overseas Manpower Association, a government-affiliated recruitment agency for overseas jobs, told Arab News that the resumption of diplomatic relations was “good news, as Saudi Arabia is also carrying on the developing plan that will provide opportunity for Thai laborers especially those with skills.”

She said that for many years there had been interest in opportunities in Saudi Arabia, as in the past many of those who worked in the Kingdom were able to establish themselves upon return.

“The association expects to start sending the pilot group to work in Saudi Arabia within two months, following the government’s plan. We will see how Thai workers adjust to the employer in Saudi Arabia,” Sakulkosol added.

The southeast Asian nation is also gearing up for more tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia, following an announcement by the Kingdom’s national flag carrier Saudia of its plan to resume direct flights to Thailand in May.

The Thai government has estimated that the increase in visitors from Saudi Arabia will generate an additional $150 million for its economy.

Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told Arab News that while the coronavirus pandemic situation made it difficult to predict how many Saudis would visit the country, authorities wanted to build on two outstanding areas that could attract travelers: Medical and shopping tourism.

He said: “We plan to do the proactive marketing, including making a promotion plan with airline and travel agencies. Many agencies that we have partnered with previously focused on other Middle East countries such as the UAE, or Jordan. We will now also focus on Saudi Arabia.

“TAT will also plan a roadshow to introduce services in Thailand, such as hotels, to get to know their customers in Saudi Arabia and sell their products there. This could be done soon, probably before June," he added. "We have high hopes for increasing the number of visitors.” 


Scheme launched to encourage Saudi eateries to provide Braille menus

The initiative, led by a team of Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom. (Supplied)
The initiative, led by a team of Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom. (Supplied)
Updated 28 January 2022

Scheme launched to encourage Saudi eateries to provide Braille menus

The initiative, led by a team of Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom. (Supplied)
  • Alaa Al-Tuairaqi, who is visually impaired, said: “For the first time in my life, I will hopefully be able to order without suffering

MAKKAH: An ambitious scheme encouraging eating establishments to provide Braille menus for visually impaired customers has been launched by a Saudi volunteer organization.
The initiative, led by a team from the volunteer administration at Al-Ahyaa Centers Association in Makkah, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom.
Instigated as part of World Braille Day celebrations, organizers expect a similar national eatery ordering project for the deaf and people with speaking difficulties to be served up in the near future.
Maha Al-Sharif, head of the Rouh Makkah volunteer team, said the idea came about after she witnessed a visually impaired person having each item on a restaurant’s food and drinks menu read out to them.

HIGHLIGHTS

• During the launch of the initiative, attended by a number of visually impaired individuals and their families, a hot and cold drinks menu written in Braille was made available for the first time at Cafe Atrab, in Makkah.

• The team’s public relations officer, Fatima Al-Otaibi, congratulated the volunteers on their work, along with visually impaired Sami Al-Zahrani, who drew up the new menu.

• Cafe Atrab owner, Manal Al-Maalawi, thanked the Rouh Makkah team for launching the scheme, adding that her establishment had been honored to officially sponsor the voluntary initiative and be the first cafe to jointly implement the idea.

Her volunteer team, established seven months ago, is looking to promote the Braille service nationally.
Alaa Al-Tuairaqi, who is visually impaired, said: “For the first time in my life, I will hopefully be able to order without suffering. It is a wonderful, outside-the-box idea that has been well-received by visually impaired individuals. The initiative will help spare them from some of the life problems they experience daily.”
He pointed out that visually impaired people often felt embarrassed having to ask for menus to be described to them, especially in busy outlets.
Associate team leader, Nourah Al-Maliki, noted that the integration of groups, such as the visually impaired, into Saudi society was an important aspect of the Vision 2030 reform plan.
During the launch of the initiative, attended by a number of visually impaired individuals and their families, a hot and cold drinks menu written in Braille was made available for the first time at Cafe Atrab, in Makkah.
The team’s public relations officer, Fatima Al-Otaibi, congratulated the volunteers on their work, along with visually impaired Sami Al-Zahrani, who drew up the new menu.
Cafe Atrab owner, Manal Al-Maalawi, thanked the Rouh Makkah team for launching the scheme, adding that her establishment had been honored to officially sponsor the voluntary initiative and be the first cafe to jointly implement the idea.
She said: “This is volunteer work and national duty. We welcome at any time our visually impaired sisters and brothers who will have a 50 percent discount on drinks for life.
“We also welcome any voluntary initiative or idea that serves the community, especially the special groups who are dear to our hearts.”