Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom Prince Khalid bin Bandar said that his country’s efforts to combat climate change were not new, but rather “part and parcel” of Vision 2030, which was launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016.
“The aim of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to reduce and effectively combat climate change, which is a unified aim amongst the whole international community”, the ambassador said from the Kingdom’s pavilion at the COP26 conference in Glasgow.
Prince Khalid bin Bandar noted: “We believe that we can only do this as a community, and so we welcome not just COP26, but every effort by the UN and our international partners to come together and come to a solution and an agreement to solve what is probably the single most important issue the world faces today”.
Days before the launching of the COP26 conference, Saudi Arabia announced its plans to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes per annum by 2030, thus voluntarily more than doubling its previous targeted emissions reduction.
Net-zero emissions by 2060
The country also revealed a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060, through the Carbon Circular Economy approach, in line with its development plans and enabling its economic diversification.
The Saudi ambassador said that these initiatives were received “very well” in the international community. “It is something that the majority of the countries of the world have committed to, by 2050 – 2060”, he added.
“It is a very complicated target to hit, not just for us but for every country”, he said.
“A lot of it relies on technologies that may not yet exist, it relies on protection of economy which very difficult when it comes to dramatic changes”, he explained.
Regarding the climate goals set by Saudi Arabia, Prince Khalid bin Bandar said: “We are keen on combatting climate change, and hitting the targets we set. But are also keen on setting targets which are achievable; not targets that we think are political statements”. He continued: This is not a political statement. This is a serious, studied, well thought out commitment by the kingdom; which not only will we aim to achieve, but we’ll aim to beat.”
The Saudi official said that “we are seeing more and more people address the issues of the commitments with seriousness, as we are”. He continued: “I think it is a positive thing for the world; that we are coming together tackling these important issues”.
Talking about his country’s commitment to preventing climate change; Khalid bin Bandar said: “We have been keen on tackling climate change as part of Vision 2030; and that launched in 2016. This is nothing new for us”.
Successful economy through combating climate change
“But it takes time”, the diplomat also noted; “and we believe that the choices in front of us are not climate or the economy. We believe that we can create a successful economy through combating climate change. You bring the two together and everyone wins”.
For Saudi, the aim is simple, explains the ambassador. “We need to adapt, innovate, and improve. These are all things human beings are very good at”. He explains: “It was adaptation and innovation that created the first industrial revolution. It was that revolution that caused the problem we are living with today. What we need is a new green industrial revolution; using the same mental skills that got us there in the first place. This is to get us to solve the problem is the second place”.
He also adds: “We believe that we are well placed for that. The Bedouin culture of the Arabian peninsula is one of adaptability, survivability and innovation. And I think it is in our DNA to move in the direction that we need to combat the problems that we face. And the problem we face today is climate change. I also think we will do that well, hopefully with the rest of the world”.