Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative includes planting of 40 billion trees as Crown Prince sets out ‘green’ roadmap for KSA and the region
Saudi Arabia has announced two environmental programmes, one for the country and the other for the Middle East, aimed at putting the region on a path to protecting the planet and achieving its global targets in the fight against climate change.
According to reports by a Saudi press agency, Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, said the two initiatives are the Saudi Green Initiative and The Middle East Green Initiative, which will be put into action as a ‘green’ roadmap for the kingdom and the region.
“The Saudi Green Initiative will work to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4% of global contributions, through an ambitious renewable energy programme that will generate 50% of the kingdom’s energy from renewables by 2030, and several other projects in the fields of clean hydrocarbon technologies, estimated to eliminate more than 130MT of carbon emissions, alongside raising the rate of waste diversion from landfills to reach 94% in the kingdom,” said Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The initiative also includes several ambitious programmes – most notably the planting of 10 billion trees within the kingdom in the upcoming decades, the equivalent of rehabilitating roughly 40 million hectares of degraded land, translating into a 12-fold increase over the current tree cover in Saudi Arabia. “This represents the kingdom’s contribution of more than 4% in achieving the goals of the global initiative to limit the degradation of lands and fungal habitats, and 1% of the global target to plant a trillion trees,” the Saudi crown prince added.
The kingdom will also work to raise the percentage of protected areas to more than 30% of its total land area, representing roughly 600,000sqkm, exceeding the current global target of 17%. It will also launch several initiatives to protect marine and coastal environments.
Under the second programme announced – The Middle East Green Initiative – Saudi Arabia will work in coordination with “neighbouring and sister countries of the GCC states and Middle Eastern countries to plant an additional 40 billion trees in the Middle East”.
Crown Prince Mohammed said: “this overall regional 50 billion-tree-planting programme is the largest reforestation programme in the world, twice the size of the Great Green Wall in the Sahel (the second largest such regional initiative). This project will restore an area equivalent to 200 million hectares of degraded land, representing 5% of the global target of planting 1 trillion trees and reducing 2.5% of global carbon levels.”
He added that the two initiatives are a continuation of recent environmental efforts in the kingdom in line with the Saudi Vision 2030.
“These two initiatives are a testimony of the kingdom’s serious desire to address the environmental challenges it has faced, from increase in temperatures and dust waves to low levels of rain and desertification. In this regard, the kingdom has carried out a comprehensive restructuring of the environmental sector, established The Environmental Special Forces in 2019, raised the percentage of natural reserves from 4% to more than 14% and increased vegetation cover by 40% in the past four years. The kingdom was also able to achieve the most efficient levels of carbon emission of hydrocarbon producing countries, alongside other initiatives that have already started on the ground and resulted in tangible positive results for the environment. This is all part of the kingdom’s efforts to promote public health and raise quality of life for its citizens and residents.”
He added that Saudi Arabia recognises its responsibility as a leading global oil producer in advancing the fight against climate change and said that just as the kingdom “underpinned energy markets during the oil & gas era, it is going to become a global leader in forging a greener world”.
“Today the share of clean energy production in the Middle East doesn’t exceed 7%, and technologies used in hydrocarbon production in the region are not efficient. Therefore the kingdom will work with regional partners to transfer our knowledge and share our experiences, which will contribute to reducing carbon emissions resulting from hydrocarbon production in the region by more than 60%.”
He added that Saudi Arabia will work with international partners to further develop the two initiatives and their associated programmes and timelines and further details of the Saudi Green Initiative will be announced over the next few months. A global forum with international partners will also be launched for the Middle East Green Initiative in the second quarter of 2022.