“We believe it can be done. We believe it will be done and we are determined to do so.”
HE Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Envoy for Climate Affairs
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 12 November 2022: On day 2 of the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Forum, hosted on the sidelines of COP27, leading climate champions gathered to underscore the necessity of collaboration across all levels of society in the race against climate change.
Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s climate initiatives and approach to cross-border collaboration, HE Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s 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 Al Jubeir went on to discuss the role of the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) in catalyzing regional climate action. Inaugurated by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister in 2021, the second edition of the multilateral MGI Summit took place on Monday 7 November at COP27. It saw 24 leaders from the region and beyond convene to agree a common roadmap towards a greener future for all.
“The objective is to plant up to 50 billion trees in the Middle East and [HRH] 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.”
Nigel Topping, UK COP26 High-Level Champion challenged the narrative that we have gone past the point of no return: “Don’t believe anybody who tells you 1.5° 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.”
Nigel shared a pertinent example to illustrate his point: “We were at 0.01% sustainable aviation fuel in 2000 and now we’re collectively targeting 10%. That's a 1000x by 2030. Those kind of growth curves are a result of cost coming down and are a very predictable economic process.”
He added: “None of the forecasts you are reading that say 1.5° is dead is 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 skillset in the political elite they learn fast…I think the whole world is on that track now.”
H.E. Ambassador Patricia Espinosa, Former Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Founding & Managing Partner Onepoint5 added: “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.”
She added: “When we look at the roles that conferences [like COP27] have, I would say that it has say that it has provided a very important impulse to leadership…. not only in government but leadership also in 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.”
When asked about how to ensure everyone is involved in finding global solutions Patricia 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.”
HE Al Jubeir concluded: “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 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.”