His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman  unveiling green initiatives at the SGI Forum in

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman unveiling green initiatives at the SGI Forum in

GCC countries spur green transformation

Saudi Arabia and its fellow Gulf states, whose economies still rely heavily on oil income, are addressing climate change as an integral part of their economic development and diversification strategies

01 November 2021

Traditionally, countries like Saudi Arabia and its fellow GCC members, have not been associated with green policies. It was only when they started to diversify their economies away from oil and engage in economic transformation, they raised prospects for sustainable growth.

For instance, Saudi Arabia, following the launch of its national transformation programme Vision 2030, five years ago, increased investment and government resources into putting the country on a more environmentally sustainable footing.

However, a surge of new net zero pledges from the Middle East’s oil producing nations, last month, has raised expectations ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow starting October 31.



The world’s top oil exporter Saudi Arabia announced late last month that it would aim to reach net zero emissions by 2060 by investing more than $186 billion into a green economy over that time - or roughly one to two years’ worth of its current oil revenue, reported Reuters.

Saudi Arabia estimated that revenue at SR412 billion ($110 billion) in 2020, and expects to rake in SR770 billion ($205 billion) this year as oil price recover.

Bahrain made the same net zero commitment, just days after the United Arab Emirates said it would hit that target by 2050 and invest $163 billion in renewable energy.

The three nations – along with fellow crude exporters Qatar and Kuwait – are among the world’s top 10 carbon dioxide emitters per capita, according to the World Bank.

In his speech at the Middle East Green Initiative Summit, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said the kingdom, which is the world’s top oil exporter, would contribute 15 per cent of the funds and would work with other states and development funds on the funding and execution of the initiatives.

“As part of the kingdom’s leading role in developing energy markets, it will work to establish an investment fund for carbon circular economy solutions in the region and an initiative to offer clean energy solutions to help feed more than 750 million people worldwide,” he said.

When plans for the Middle East Green Initiative were first announced in March, the prince said it aimed to reduce carbon emissions in the region’s hydrocarbon industry by 60 per cent and reverse desertification in one of world’s most water-stressed regions by planting billions of trees.

No investment figure was provided for the Middle East Green Initiative. Saudi Arabia has said its own Saudi Green Initiative programme would involve investments of over SR700 billion ($190 billion) by 2030.

In his speech, Crown Prince Mohammed said the kingdom would work to establish a regional early storm warning center.

He also announced that a regional center for climate change would be established, a regional center for carbon capture and storage would be developed and the establishment of a regional center for the sustainable development of fisheries and a regional cloud seeding program as well as the establishment of the “Green Initiative Foundation,” a non-profit organization to support the summit’s work in the future.

Last March, Saudi Arabia announced the launch of the Green Saudi Arabia and Green Middle East initiatives to improve the quality of life by increasing reliance on clean energy, neutralising the effects of oil and protecting the environment.

Notably, these initiatives aim to plant 50 billion trees in the region and reduce carbon emissions by more than 10 per cent of global contributions.

Emissions are mostly produced by burning fossil fuels and achieving net zero means a country emits no more greenhouse gases than it can capture or absorb.

Saudi Arabia would help create the necessary infrastructure by working to establish a regional carbon capture and storage centre, a regional early storm warning centre, a regional cloud seeding programme and a hub for climate change, Crown Prince Mohammed said.

Wealthy Gulf Opec members like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are investing in renewable and clean energy while also stressing the continued importance of hydrocarbons for global energy security at a time of growing calls for a shift away from fossil fuels.

Gulf states, whose economies still rely heavily on oil income, have also increased focus on food security in a region heavily reliant on imports. 

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