Saudi Arabia launches 3 climate projects, carbon credit scheme at COP27

Special The announcement came on the second day of the second Saudi Green Initiative Forum, held on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh. (Twitter/SGI)
The announcement came on the second day of the second Saudi Green Initiative Forum, held on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh. (Twitter/SGI)
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Updated 13 November 2022

Saudi Arabia launches 3 climate projects, carbon credit scheme at COP27

Saudi Arabia launches 3 climate projects, carbon credit scheme at COP27
  • ‘Either get ahead of climate change or be buried by it,’ warns Kingdom’s climate envoy
  • UAE minister hails Saudi efforts during forum

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman at COP27 inaugurated three new projects and a greenhouse gas credit scheme to launch next year, further enhancing the Kingdom’s action on climate change.

The announcement came on the second day of the second Saudi Green Initiative Forum, held on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh resort town.

The forum addressed climate challenges in the Kingdom as well as the plans and achievements of 39 Saudi stakeholders committed to achieving the Saudi Green Initiative goals and Vision 2030.




Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman at the COP27. (SPA)

As part of its commitment to the Middle East Green Initiative, the Kingdom is launching the Circular Carbon Economy Knowledge Hub. The platform will facilitate regional collaboration in circular carbon economy technologies, and share the information, best practices and learnings to support the region-wide implementation of NDCs, helping achieve ambitious targets.

“Saudi Arabia is working with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia to establish a regional center to advance emissions reduction. This center will provide opportunities for regional collaboration to accelerate emissions reduction and facilitate the implementation of the CCE. It will also be a powerful platform to represent regional voices, influencing global narratives and developing a road map to lower emissions,” the Ministry of Energy said.

The Kingdom is also working with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to host the next MENA Climate Week in 2023, set to take place in the run-up to COP28 in the UAE. The event will bring together key regional and global stakeholders to explore challenges and opportunities, as well as showcase innovation and solutions.

Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s climate initiatives and approach to cross-border collaboration, Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi envoy for climate affairs, said: “We all inhabit this planet together. What happens in one part of the world affects other parts of the world — we can’t escape that. The issue of climate change doesn’t recognize borders or genders, or religion. We have to all chip in to do this. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of petroleum and so we also have a responsibility in that sense … we have to take a leading role.”

 

 

He added: “The objective is to plant up to 50 billion trees in the Middle East and his royal highness also announced the funding of $2.5 billion of support to activities of the initiative, to make sure we deal with desertification and deal with planting trees in order to reduce carbon in our environment. We’ve also launched funds that deal with food security and funds that deal with helping countries manage the transition using a circular carbon economy approach … we want to be an example to the world in terms of what can be done. We believe it can be done, we believe it will be done and we are determined to do so.

“You either get ahead (of climate change) or you are going to be buried by it. Saudi Arabia is committed to being ahead of it. When you look at many of the world problems, or potential problems, they have to do with climate change, whether there is not enough food or not enough water. These become sources of conflict and we need to get ahead of this, in order to eliminate them and to provide a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

During the forum, Prince Fahad Bin Jalawi signed the UNFCCC Sport For Climate Action Framework to make the the Saudi Olympic & Paralympic Committee an official signatory.

 

 

Prince Fahad expressed his gratitude to the prominent efforts of the Saudi Green Initiative under the leadership of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman toward encouraging climate action and sustainability in Saudi Arabia.

“The climate crisis is a call of action for all of us to combat climate change through all levels. SOPC is working to expand the scope of climate actions in the Kingdom to be extended to the sport level, to contribute in finding solutions for the climate crisis in and through sport at the international, regional and national levels.”

He added: “It is our responsibility to spread awareness about the climate issues and address them through sport as well as join the forces of all sport organizations in the Kingdom to play a vital role that helps achieve the goals of the Saudi Green Initiative and Vision 2030.”

UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Almheiri, who spoke on the sidelines of the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, said throughout her panel session that the need for climate action was reflected in the holding two consecutive COPs in the Middle East, sharing her hopes that the world will take the opportunity to catalyze real change.

 

 

“It will be the first global stock take. This is going to be very unique in the COP process — in a way it’s like a report card. We’ll be able to see where we are, compared to where we want to be. We need to be more ambitious. We know that the results of the ‘report card’ will not look good. But it is important to realize from now that this is an implementation COP. It’s really important that we scale up … having COP27 in here in Egypt, having COP28 in the UAE next year and having the Saudi Green Initiative — these are all opportunities that we can move forward.”

She highlighted the technological innovations that are driving regional climate action and presenting opportunities for collaboration: “It would be amazing if we could see regional carbon markets increasing our collective liquidity. We’re electrifying our industries and mobility as well in order to decarbonize, so having interconnected grids to help stabilize the grid and increase efficiency across the region. We’re all putting a lot of a lot of focus now on hydrogen, on CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage) — with Saudi Arabia really putting a lot of effort in on this – and it’s amazing when you see what these technologies can actually do.”

Almheiri added: “There is hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are moving in the right direction … we need to move faster, but I really think that we should use this as an opportunity to catalyze efforts to put these technologies into place.”

Speaking ahead of next week’s G20 summit in Bali, Cheng Lin, head of the Center for International Cooperation at the Beijing Institute of Finance and Sustainability, discussed transitional finance and China’s role as co-chair of the G20 Sustainable Finance Working Group.

 

 

A key responsibility for the working group co-chairs in 2022 has been to develop a transitional finance framework.

“We need to have another framework to help mobilize in the scaling of more finance to support in the transition activities. And of course, it’s very challenging on traditional financial markets, not only in China but globally. So that’s a very strong demand for transition and we need to work on something that can be guiding all the financial settings, including jurisdictions. So, a framework is very much needed. We are very happy that the framework has been developed and delivered … we hope that the work can be endorsed by the G20 leaders this week in Bali,” Chen said.

On China’s approach to transitional finance, he added: “We already have up and running green financial markets since 2016. So, after more than six years of development, we have come up with a framework that can support a very well-running green financial market in terms of taxonomy, disclosure requirements, policy and incentive mechanisms, and a suite of green financial products, as well as capacity building. We have heard a lot about transition and taxonomy’s role. This is a very important part that is also leading many international departments, collaborations and also initiatives. I think we’ll also see some other progress in terms of taxonomy internationally and in the region — this is also targeted in the Saudi Green Initiative.

UK COP26 High Level Climate Action Champion Nigel Topping challenged the narrative that the world has gone past the point of no return: “Don’t believe anybody who tells you 1.5 degrees Celsius is dead. Don’t believe anyone who has the lost confidence in the ability of us as unbelievable engineers and in the power of markets to drive exponential change. That’s what’s happening now in sector after sector after sector.”

 

 

He added: “We were at 0.01 percent sustainable aviation fuel in 2000 and now we’re collectively targeting 10 percent. That’s an 1000 times improvement by 2030. Those kind of growth curves are a result of costs coming down and are a very predictable economic process.

“None of the forecasts you are reading that say 1.5 degrees Celsius is dead are using that (economic) logic. They’re adding up today’s policies and saying that determines the future, as though people stop making policies. Engineering organizations and countries like Saudi with strong engineering skillsets in the political elite — they learn fast. I think the whole world is on that track now.”

Patricia Espinosa, former UNFCCC executive secretary as well as founding and managing partner of 1PointFive, said: “I do believe a lot has been achieved in terms providing the world with the tools in order to go into these very deep transformations. The process has produced the big frameworks but also the tools for all of us to be able to monitor what is going on.”

 

 

“When we look at the roles that conferences have, I would say that it has provided a very important impulse to leadership, not only in government, but also leadership in businesses and civil society. But a negotiation does not transform the world. What is critical is to provide a platform where leaders come together and react, and they create this momentum.”

On engagement in global solutions, Espinosa said: “I think that this is precisely the point of a conference like this. A conference where everybody comes at the highest level of government as we have been witnessing. And just the presence of the heads of state and government already indicates that they want to be on board.”

 


UAE, France, India to cooperate on energy, climate and adopt implementation roadmap

UAE, France, India to cooperate on energy, climate and adopt implementation roadmap
Updated 16 sec ago

UAE, France, India to cooperate on energy, climate and adopt implementation roadmap

UAE, France, India to cooperate on energy, climate and adopt implementation roadmap

LONDON: The UAE, France and India have established a tripartite cooperation initiative in several areas including energy and climate change, the Emirati state news agency WAM reported on Saturday.

A joint statement, which came following a phone call between UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, his French counterpart Catherine Colonna, and their Indian counterpart Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, affirmed that the trilateral initiative will promote the joint design and execution of projects in various fields, including solar and nuclear energy, combating climate change, and protecting biodiversity, particularly in the Indian Ocean.

“For this purpose, the three countries will explore the possibility of working with the Indian Ocean Rim Association to pursue concrete, actionable projects on clean energy, the environment, and biodiversity,” the statement said.

The initiative will also serve as a platform to expand cooperation between the three countries’ development agencies on sustainable projects, as well as to organize a range of trilateral events in the framework of the Indian presidency of the G20 and the UAE’s hosting of COP28 this year.

“It was agreed that the three countries will seek to ensure greater alignment of their respective economic, technological, and social policies with the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” the statement added.

The countries also agreed to expand cooperation through initiatives such as the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, led by the UAE, and the Indo-Pacific Parks Partnership, led by India and France.

“It was agreed that the three countries should seek to focus on key issues such as single-use plastic pollution, desertification, and food security in the context of the International Year of Millets, 2023,” the statement noted.

The three sides also underlined their desire to adopt a circular-economy model under the aegis of India’s Mission LiFE, which aims to bring individual behaviors to the forefront of the global climate-action narrative.

The three countries stressed the need to strengthen defense cooperation and agreed to increase efforts to further promote compatibility and joint development and co-production, whilst seeking out avenues for further collaboration and training between their defense forces.

They pledged to strengthen communication on emerging threats, including infectious diseases and measures to combat future pandemics.

“In this regard, cooperation with multilateral organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi — the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund, and Unitaid will be encouraged,” the statement said.

They also agreed to cooperate on the implementation of WHO’s “One Health” approach — to achieve optimal health outcomes that recognize the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment locally, regionally and globally, and to support the development of local capacities in biomedical innovation and production within developing countries.

“As countries at the very forefront of technological innovation, the development of trilateral cooperation between relevant academic and research institutions and efforts to promote co-innovation projects, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship will be encouraged,” the statement said.

This will include organizing trilateral conferences and meetings on the sidelines of high-level technology events, such as Vivatech in Paris, Bengaluru Tech Summit in INdia, and GITEX in Dubai, to support such cooperation.

The UAE, France and India said they will ensure that the trilateral initiative will be used to promote cultural cooperation through a range of joint projects, including heritage promotion and protection, “in recognition of the critical role social and human bonds play in their constructive partnership.”


Almana set to expand network of hospitals outside of the Eastern Province: CEO

Almana set to expand network of hospitals outside of the Eastern Province: CEO
Updated 03 February 2023

Almana set to expand network of hospitals outside of the Eastern Province: CEO

Almana set to expand network of hospitals outside of the Eastern Province: CEO

RIYADH: As part of its five-year plan, Almana Group of Hospitals, one of the oldest and largest medical groups in Saudi Arabia, is set to expand its network of hospitals, its CEO told Arab News in an exclusive interview. 

Being the first private medical center established in the Eastern Province, the group’s initial focus will be on exploring opportunities for a new hospital outside of the eastern region within the next few years with the view to expanding into other areas following that, Mana Almana informed.

“We are strongly aligned with the vision of our great leaders and stand ready to support the government to build capacity within the sector due to our expanding facilities and offerings tailored to the evolving needs of our communities,” he said.

Almana added: “We recognize that to meet the future needs of the medical sector, we need to partner with world-renowned healthcare institutions to help us accelerate and further develop the Kingdom’s healthcare system.” 

Not surprisingly, the group is also seeking to partner with the Ministry of Health under public-private partnerships to deliver advanced and specialist services.

As the only dedicated oncology unit in eastern Saudi Arabia, the group has recently expanded its specialists department in Dammam to cater to cancer patients’ mounting needs in the region. 

CEO Mana Almana. (Supplied)

“When it comes to oncology, Almana’s goal is to provide cancer patients with the highest international standard of care and cater to the growing need for cancer care in the Kingdom,” Almana said. 

“As such, in addition to our existing seven hospitals and clinics, we decided to create a dedicated space where patients could receive individualized and tailored treatment within a centralized and fully-fledged unit.” 

The new oncology center has been designed with the complexity of cancer in mind. By bringing the group’s 70 specialized oncologists under one roof, it can provide personalized treatments and precision fit for specific types of cancer. 

The new unit will include four new clinics specializing in medical oncology, radiation and surgical oncology in addition to four chemotherapy treatment rooms. 

“Besides providing exceptional treatment for patients, we also focus our efforts on preventive cancer care measures,” Almana explained. 

“Our efforts include free year-round breast-cancer screenings at all branches of Almana hospitals in Dammam, Alkhobar, Ahsa, Jubail and Rakah,” he continued. “Over the years, our free screening has touched the lives of over 10,000 patients, potentially helping to save even more lives.” 

In line with the ambition of Saudi Vision 2030 to unify patient care records and improve health information exchange, the group is investing heavily in technology within its hospitals to ensure all services will be automated while providing seamless service for its patients.

“We are also establishing a new central command center to improve patient outcomes by coordinating care between our hospital locations,” Almana informed. 

“As a group of hospitals, we continuously foster a culture of innovation to create value in areas of high unmet medical need across the Kingdom. For example, we’ve created unique offerings where they currently don’t exist such as our foot disease and diabetes center, the only one in the region,” he continued.

In addition, the group is also taking several steps to train and recruit medical professionals. 

“We also share the ambition of Saudi Vision 2030 to increase the number of females within the workforce,” Almana said. “Already, we have females leading our medical departments and are looking to increase this even further by 20 percent over the next five years.” 

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve also helped develop the next generation of doctors and nurses in the Kingdom through our official healthcare training academy, Mohammed Almana College for Medical Science, which contributes to over 180 Saudi graduate nurses each year,” he pointed out.


Global Markets: Stocks, bonds tumble as stellar US jobs report may force Fed rethink

Global Markets: Stocks, bonds tumble as stellar US jobs report may force Fed rethink
Updated 03 February 2023

Global Markets: Stocks, bonds tumble as stellar US jobs report may force Fed rethink

Global Markets: Stocks, bonds tumble as stellar US jobs report may force Fed rethink

LONDON: Global stocks and Treasury prices tumbled on Friday after an unexpectedly strong US jobs report indicated the Federal Reserve may need to keep interest rates elevated to control inflation, according to Reuters.

This placed another roadblock in the way of a weeks-long markets rally that stumbled in US after hours trading on Thursday over disappointing earnings from Google, Apple, and Amazon.

S&P 500 futures slid 1.1 percent, contracts on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 dropped 1.8 percent.

The MSCI index of global shares fell 0.3 percent, having hit its highest level since August on Thursday in a rebound buoyed by optimism that central banks are close to the end of their aggressive rate hiking cycles.

The keenly-watched US nonfarm payrolls report showed US employers added 517,000 new workers in January, vastly overshooting expectations of economists polled by Reuters for a 185,000 gain.

Average hourly wages, which analysts and investors focus on for clues about whether a tight labour market may continue to fan the flames of inflation, rose 0.3%, matching economists' forecasts.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which underpins borrowing costs worldwide, added 11 basis points to 3.51 percent after the jobs data. The two-year Treasury yield, which follows traders' expectations of Fed fund rates, rose by 12 bps to 4.24 percent.

The Fed hiked its main interest rate by 25 bps to a range of 4.5 percent to 4.75 percent on Wednesday, taking benchmark borrowing costs to their highest since late 2007, and signalled more hikes to come. The European Central Bank and the Bank of England also raised rates on Thursday to contain inflation.

"In a year when the economic data is more important than the Fed, the January employment report clearly justified the Fed having tightened by 425 bps over the past 10 months," said Jack McIntyre, portfolio manager at Brandywine Global.

Ahead of the nonfarm payrolls data, markets had priced two US rate cuts by year-end on hopes the US economy was cooling enough to quell inflation but not on course for a downturn that could reduce companies’ earnings more than markets were already counting on.

US tech shares took a beating in after-hours trading on Thursday after Apple projected another revenue decline in the start of the year, Amazon warned that its operating profit could fall to zero in the current quarter, and Google parent Alphabet missed fourth-quarter profit and revenue expectations.

"We will see headwinds from further earnings downgrades, but we have incorporated quite a lot (of this) already so I think markets can hold here if we are indeed right on the Fed,” said Willem Sels, global chief investment officer at HSBC's private bank, who expects the US central bank to raise rates just one more time in 2023.

An index measuring the dollar against major currencies stood at 102.53, rising further from recent nine-month lows of 100.80.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 share benchmark fell 0.4 percent. Germany's benchmark 10-year bond yield rose 13 bps to 2.14 percent, having on Thursday dropped by the most since 2011 as prices shot higher.

The euro traded at $1.0841, down 0.65 percent and pulling further away from Thursday's 10-month top of $1.1033.

 


World food prices decline for 10th month running in January, says UN Food Agency

World food prices decline for 10th month running in January, says UN Food Agency
Updated 03 February 2023

World food prices decline for 10th month running in January, says UN Food Agency

World food prices decline for 10th month running in January, says UN Food Agency

ROME: World food prices fell in January for a 10th consecutive month, and are now down some 18 percent from a record high hit last March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UN's food agency said on Friday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 131.2 points last month against 132.2 for December, the agency said on Friday. It was the lowest reading since September 2021.

The December figure was revised down from an original estimate of 132.4.

Falls in the prices of vegetable oils, dairy and sugar helped pull down the index, while cereals and meat remained largely stable, the FAO said.

In separate cereal supply and demand estimates on Friday, the FAO raised its forecast for global cereal production in 2022 to 2.77 billion tons from a previous estimate of 2.76 billion tons.

The FAO cereal price index rose just 0.1 percent month-on-month in January to give a 4.8 percent increase on the year.

International wheat prices declined 2.5 percent as production in Australia and Russia outpaced expectations. Rice, by contrast, jumped 6.2 percent, driven in part by strong local demand in some Asian exporting countries.

Vegetable oil prices fell 2.9 percent in January, the dairy index dipped 1.4 percent and sugar declined 1.1 percent. Meat slipped a mere 0.1 percent.

Looking at supply and demand for cereals, FAO said it expected a record global output of wheat in 2022 thanks to revised crop forecasts from Australia and Russia.

The forecast for world rice production was revised down on the back of lower-than-expected output in China, and is now predicted to decline 2.6 percent from its all-time high in 2021.

Looking ahead to 2023, FAO said early indications pointed to a likely expansion of winter wheat cropping in the northern hemisphere. However, it warned that high fertilizer costs may impact yields.

World cereal utilization in 2022/23 was forecast to dip 0.7 percent from the previous year to 2.78 billion tons. The estimate for world cereal stocks was pegged at 844 million tons, pushing down the world stock-to-use ratio for 2022/23 to 29.5 percent from 30.8 percent in 2021/22


Oil steadies with spotlight on EU embargo, US jobs data

Oil steadies with spotlight on EU embargo, US jobs data
Updated 03 February 2023

Oil steadies with spotlight on EU embargo, US jobs data

Oil steadies with spotlight on EU embargo, US jobs data

LONDON: Oil prices steadied on Friday as investors sought more clarity on the imminent EU embargo on Russian refined fuels, with prices set for a second weekly loss in the absence of clear signs of demand recovery in top consumer China.

Brent crude LCOc1 futures gained 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $82.32 a barrel by 1301 GMT, having dropped by about 1 percent in the previous session. US West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 futures were up 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $76.00.

Brent is poised to register close to a 5 percent decline this week while WTI is on course for a 3.6 percent drop.

Investors are eyeing developments on the Feb. 5 EU ban on Russian refined products, with EU countries seeking a deal on Friday to set price caps for Russian oil products.

The Kremlin said on Friday that the EU embargo on Russia's refined oil products would lead to further imbalance in global energy markets.

"The exact details around what the cap will be and how they will implement it are still unclear," Capital Economics commodities economist Bill Weatherburn said, adding that the uncertainty is keeping a lid on prices.

"There hasn't been any data out of China to indicate the extent of the recovery in China's crude demand."

ANZ analysts noted a sharp jump in traffic in China's 15 largest cities after the Lunar New Year holiday but said that Chinese traders had been "relatively absent".

Markets now await US payrolls data due at 1330 GMT. US job growth in January is likely to have remained strong thanks to a resilient labour market, but expectations of a continued slowdown in wage gains offer the Federal Reserve some comfort in its fight against inflation, a Reuters survey showed.

The US central bank scaled back to a milder rate increase than those over the past year, but policymakers also projected that "ongoing increases" in borrowing costs would be needed.

Increases to interest rates in 2023 are likely to weigh on the US and European economies, boosting fears of an economic slowdown that is highly likely to dent global crude oil demand, said Priyanka Sachdeva, market analyst at Phillip Nova.