Saudi climate action through carbon capture and storage initiatives

Saudi climate action through carbon capture and storage initiatives

Plumes of smoke rise from Europe's largest lignite power plant in Belchatow, central Poland. (AP)
Plumes of smoke rise from Europe's largest lignite power plant in Belchatow, central Poland. (AP)
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The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, the world’s leading authority on CCS, reports that the level of policy support from governments reached historic highs in 2023. This has strengthened the business case for CCS and resulted in the project pipeline growing more rapidly in the past year than at any other time.

Furthermore, CCS in the Middle East and Africa region already accounts for around 8 percent of global capture capacity and is on the cusp of a remarkable uptrend, with commitments by the UAE and Saudi Arabia in announcing net-zero targets for 2050 and 2060 respectively.

Saudi Arabia, a global energy powerhouse, has embarked on an ambitious journey to combat climate change and transition toward a more sustainable future. As part of its commitment to the circular carbon economy, or CCE, the Kingdom is actively pursuing carbon capture and storage initiatives.

The Joint Development Agreement with Saudi Aramco is one of the largest initiatives on this front. This agreement aims to establish one of the biggest CCS hubs globally. The hub will be located in Jubail Industrial City and is set to start operating by 2027.

In its first phase, it will have the capacity to extract and store 9 million tonnes per year of carbon dioxide. The long-term goal is to extract, utilize, and store a staggering 44 million tonnes per year of carbon dioxide by 2035. In equal measures, the Al-Khobar CCS Project will capture carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources.

The captured carbon dioxide will be transported and stored in geological formations deep underground. This project represents a significant step toward achieving the Kingdom’s climate goals.

Saudi Arabia’s carbon capture and storage initiatives demonstrate its determination to address climate change head-on.

Khulood Rambo

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is constructing the world’s largest green hydrogen plant. The plant is set to produce up to 600 tonnes of green hydrogen per day by 2026, which will play a crucial role in decarbonizing the energy sector.

In addition to ongoing efforts in the renewable energy transition, showing the Kingdom’s heavy investments, 13 new projects are underway, with a total capacity of 11.4 gigawatts. By 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to generate 50 percent of its power capacity from renewables. These projects are expected to reduce approximately 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

The Saudi Green Initiative aims to combat climate change, improve quality of life, and protect the environment for future generations. This initiative focuses on three key targets: Emissions reduction, afforestation, and land and sea protection.

Emissions reduction includes measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; afforestation targets involve planting 10 billion trees in Saudi Arabia and 50 billion across the Middle East; and land and sea protection aims to safeguard natural ecosystems.

Saudi Arabia is committed to placing 30 percent of its land and sea under protection by 2030. Biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration are an integral part of this effort.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia announced the launch of the GHG Crediting and Offsetting Scheme in early 2024, which aims to support and incentivize emission reduction and removal projects across all sectors in the Kingdom.

In summary, Saudi Arabia’s carbon capture and storage initiatives demonstrate its determination to address climate change head-on. By leveraging technology, international partnerships, and a commitment to sustainability, the Kingdom is positioning itself as a global leader in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Khulood Rambo is a former research affiliate and visiting scholar at MIT, a private sector consultant, and a government program manager specializing in water, energy, food nexus, climate change, and sustainability.

 

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view

UK’s Rwanda plan rejected by Lords after vote to exempt Afghan soldiers

UK’s Rwanda plan rejected by Lords after vote to exempt Afghan soldiers
Updated 4 min ago
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UK’s Rwanda plan rejected by Lords after vote to exempt Afghan soldiers

UK’s Rwanda plan rejected by Lords after vote to exempt Afghan soldiers
  • Peers approve amendment to bill to protect ex-servicemen, families from being deported
  • Bill to return to Commons after Lords also vote to set up committee to monitor safety in Rwanda

LONDON: The UK’s House of Lords rejected the government’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda for asylum processing in a vote on Wednesday after it approved two amendments to the legislation.

The upper chamber of Parliament voted in favor of a proposal to exempt Afghans who worked with UK military personnel from being deported to the East African country, and of another that would see a committee established to monitor safety in Rwanda.

The bill will return to the House of Commons early next week, where MPs have previously refused to back amendments made to it by the Lords. 

The government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has made the Rwanda scheme a core part of his pledge to lower illegal migration across the English Channel before the next general election, says the bill in its current form is “the right way forward.”

However, a previous version of the scheme was rejected by the UK Supreme Court in 2023 as unlawful. 

The plan has also drawn cross-party criticism for its expense, worries about its effectiveness, the government’s inability to implement it and for the way it treats people in need of asylum, including former Afghan soldiers, translators and their families, many of whom risked their lives to assist the UK during operations in Afghanistan.

Numerous Afghans have been identified as having been threatened with deportation to Rwanda for entering the UK illegally, with many claiming safe legal routes either don’t work in practice or don’t exist.

The Independent highlighted the cases of a former Afghan Air Force pilot hailed as a “patriot” by former colleagues, who crossed the Channel in a small boat, and of two former Afghan special forces soldiers belonging to units known as “Triples” run by the British Army, who were wrongly denied assistance by the UK Ministry of Defence.

Along with reporting by Lighthouse Reports and Sky News, hundreds of other former Triples soldiers have also been identified hiding in Pakistan, awaiting an MoD review after many were refused entry to the UK.

The Lords amendment on protections from deportation for former Afghan military personnel was proposed by a former UK defense secretary, Lord Browne of Ladyton, and supported by two former chiefs of the UK’s defense staff.

Earlier on Wednesday Home Office minister Michael Tomlinson said peers should reject the amendments to “send a clear signal that if you come to the UK illegally, you will not be able to stay.”

But Lord Browne told the Lords: “Now is the time to give these people the sanctuary their bravery has earned.”

He added the government needed to be reminded of “the political consequences of their failure not to give either an assurance that is bankable or to accept this amendment. Because there is little, if any, support in your lordships’ House for their failure to do this and there (is) certainly no majority support in the country to treat these brave people this way.”

Lord Coaker, shadow home affairs spokesperson in the Lords, added: “Why on earth would the government oppose that particular amendment? It’s one of those things that is completely unbelievable.”

On Wednesday, Conservative MP Sir Robert Buckland told the Commons: “There is still a class of people who have served this country, who have been brave and have exposed themselves to danger, who have not yet been dealt with.

“Many of them are in Pakistan, and I think that it would have been helpful to have perhaps seen an amendment in lieu to deal with that point.”


Saudi Arabia agrees to take rice imports from Pakistan to 20 percent — Pakistani trade official

Saudi Arabia agrees to take rice imports from Pakistan to 20 percent — Pakistani trade official
Updated 20 min 48 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia agrees to take rice imports from Pakistan to 20 percent — Pakistani trade official

Saudi Arabia agrees to take rice imports from Pakistan to 20 percent — Pakistani trade official
  • Riyadh currently imports 7 percent of its rice requirements from Pakistan, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan chief says
  • The Kingdom wants to help Pakistan economically by increasing imports from South Asian country, Zubair Motiwala adds

KARACHI: Saudi Arabia has agreed to increase rice imports from Pakistan to 20 percent of the Kingdom’s total requirement, a Pakistani official said on Wednesday, as the South Asian nation gears up to achieve the $3 billion rice exports for the first time ever.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been closely working to increase their bilateral trade and investment, including a recent commitment to invest about $5 billion in Pakistan. 

The Kingdom wants to help Islamabad by importing more from Pakistan, according to Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, head of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), the government arm that facilitates and promotes Pakistan’s international trade.

“Saudi are very eager to come and invest in Pakistan. They also want to help Pakistan by importing more from Pakistan,” Motiwala told Arab News, on the sidelines of an event hosted by the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) in Karachi. 

“For instance, the rice, which we are exporting to Saudi Arabia, is 7 percent of the requirement and they have agreed that they will take it to 20 percent. It’s almost three times [of] what we’re exporting today.” 

Pakistan has exported rice worth $2.9 billion from July 2023 till March 2024, according to REAP officials.

“We will cross the $3 billion export mark easily during the remaining four months of the current fiscal year,” Chela Ram Kewlani, the REAP chairman, said at the event.

The development came days after the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, visited Pakistan to enhance bilateral economic cooperation and push forward previously agreed investment deals.

His trip came a little over a week after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Makkah and reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to expedite investments worth $5 billion.

The TDAP chief said a high-powered Saudi delegation was due in Pakistan, which would further boost the trade and investment climate.

“They’re interested in so many privatization projects, like the PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) and the [Pakistan] Steel Mills, and so many others,” he said.

“And they also want to get into the stock exchange and they want to invest directly in the private sector and private-sector ventures.”

Motiwala was confident that Pakistan’s overall exports to Saudi Arabia would increase after diplomatic engagements between both countries at the time of the Saudi delegation’s visit. He, however, did not specify a tentative date for the visit.

Pakistan has exported goods worth $20.35 billion, including a major chunk of $11.14 billion that came from the textile exports, during the current fiscal year (July 2023-Feb 2024), according to official data.

However, the TDAP chief said the country was not fully harnessing its potential, which he believed to be more than $100 billion. 

“I am never satisfied, to be very frank and blunt… looking at the potential of Pakistan, we should not be at this place where we are... $30 billion, $32 billion [exports] is not the size of Pakistan,” he said.

“I think at least Pakistan should export more than 100 billion dollars.”

Motiwala said the TDAP was working hard to see how the country could increase its exports.

“We are looking for the government’s help also, government’s cooperation also, where we can reduce the cost of doing business and cost of manufacturing in Pakistan,” he said. “If we are able to do that, I think sky is the limit.”

The TDAP official said Pakistan was also going to organize a single country exhibition in Riyadh within the next two months to display a wide range of ‘Made-in Pakistan’ products.


Saudi Arabia issues over 37k certificates of origin in March

Saudi Arabia issues over 37k certificates of origin in March
Updated 25 min 54 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia issues over 37k certificates of origin in March

Saudi Arabia issues over 37k certificates of origin in March

RIYADH: Saudi exporters were issued 37,188 certificates of origin in March by the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, marking an annual increase of 0.5 percent.

The document confirms that the products are of national origin or have acquired that status. It is part of the ministry’s effort to support and facilitate the service for exporters in various sectors.

This initiative is part of the Kingdom’s goal under the Vision 2030 economic transformation plan to increase the share of non-oil exports to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product from 16 percent to 50 percent by the decade’s end.

 

 


Spanish investments in Saudi Arabia exceed $3bn, boosting bilateral relations and vital sectors

Spanish investments in Saudi Arabia exceed $3bn, boosting bilateral relations and vital sectors
Updated 30 min 23 sec ago
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Spanish investments in Saudi Arabia exceed $3bn, boosting bilateral relations and vital sectors

Spanish investments in Saudi Arabia exceed $3bn, boosting bilateral relations and vital sectors

RIYADH: Spanish investments in Saudi Arabia have surpassed $3 billion in the last 10 years, with bilateral relations contributing to the development of vital sectors, according to a top official.

The Kingdom’s Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing, Majed Al-Hogail, witnessed the start of the Saudi-Spanish Business Forum on April 17, which was organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers and the Saudi-Spanish Business Council.

Al-Hogail highlighted in his opening address that the bilateral relations between the Kingdom and the European country over the last 70 years have resulted in favorable outcomes, fostering development, investment, and advancements in various sectors such as construction, civil engineering, finance, energy, and water desalination, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency.

He explained that bilateral investments are booming, with Spanish finding into the Kingdom surpassing $3 billion in the last decade, 40 percent of which is in real estate.

The forum, held in Madrid, highlighted Saudi-Spanish financial opportunities and enhancing partnerships in areas of construction technologies, smart cities, and urban planning. 

The minister underscored the forum’s role in exploring investment prospects and enhancing cooperation and effective partnerships, particularly in municipal and housing sectors.

He emphasized that Saudi Arabia and Spain are experiencing rapid developmental advancements, making investment and trade exchanges increasingly attractive.

Al-Hogail stressed the importance of ongoing cooperation and expertise exchange in this crucial sector, stating that the Kingdom welcomes collaboration with successful international partners and leveraging their expertise.

He also announced the signing of a real estate development agreement with a Spanish development company to implement residential units within integrated communities and suburbs, aiming to raise the homeownership rate to 70 percent by 2030. 

He expressed the ministry’s eagerness to strengthen partnerships with developers and investors in the construction, roads, recycling, engineering, and consulting sectors.

Following the forum, attended by Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin, the ambassador to Spain, and Khalid Al-Hogail, president of the Saudi-Spanish Business Council, the minister convened with Teresa Ribera, Spain’s deputy prime minister and minister of ecological transition and demographic challenge.

They discussed cooperation in urban development, urbanization, and the utilization of artificial intelligence technology in sustainable  city building, as reported by SPA.

Al-Hogail highlighted Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve standards in municipal and housing undertakings, including the “Bahja” project, which aims to enhance the quality of life in Saudi cities, and the “Green Suburbs” initiative, which strives to plant more than 1.3 million trees in 50 residential areas.

Al-Hogail also met with the President of the Spanish Association of Infrastructure Contractors and Concessionaires, Julian Nunez, to review prominent investment opportunities in the Saudi real estate sector.

During a three-day visit prior to the forum, minister Al-Hogail met with executives from leading Spanish companies to explore collaboration opportunities.   

The tour is part of the Kingdom’s broader initiative to foster international partnerships that enhance its urban and infrastructure capabilities, SPA reported.


British MPs urge government to designate IRGC a terror group

British MPs urge government to designate IRGC a terror group
Updated 52 min 44 sec ago
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British MPs urge government to designate IRGC a terror group

British MPs urge government to designate IRGC a terror group
  • Signatories to open letter say Iranian organization has ‘never posed a greater threat to UK’
  • Proscription would put Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on par with Daesh, Al-Qaeda

LONDON: A cross-party group of more than 50 MPs and Lords peers in the UK have demanded that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be designated a terrorist organization.

The cross-party group, which includes former home secretaries Suella Braverman and Priti Patel, made the request in an open letter to The Times.

The IRGC is a key component of Iran’s military and power-projection capabilities. More than 125,000 personnel serve in its ranks, spread across wings including the Quds Force, the overseas element responsible for liaising with and supporting militias in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. In recent years, the IRGC has also built a relationship with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The open letter, signed by 134 people, follows last weekend’s Iranian attack on Israel, which signatories described as the “latest chapter of destructive terror by the IRGC.”

It says: “The government has combated extremism and terrorism by proscribing Hamas and Hezbollah but it is not enough.

“The IRGC is the primary source of ideological radicalisation, funding, equipment and training for these groups.

“The government must act against the root cause and proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation.”

Iran’s attack was a response to Israel’s strike on its consulate in Damascus that killed 11 people, including senior commanders.

Former US President Donald Trump designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in 2019, a year before the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force.

But the UK has been reluctant to follow the US measure for fear of breaking diplomatic communication channels with Tehran.

As part of sanctions on Iran targeting its nuclear program, however, the UK sanctioned the IRGC, freezing the assets of its members and implementing travel bans.

A terrorist designation in the UK would put the IRGC on par with Daesh and Al-Qaeda, and make it illegal to support the group, with a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.

The 134 signatories said the IRGC has “never posed a greater threat to the UK,” accusing “thugs” belonging to the group of stabbing an Iranian dissident in London last month.

The letter was coordinated by the UK-Israel All Parliamentary Party Group, which includes former Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.