Within the framework of announcing the launch of the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative by HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, which will set the Kingdom and the region’s direction for protecting the earth and nature, and will strongly contribute by achieving global climate goals, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) published a workshop brief in which more than 40 experts from academia, government and industry participated to exchange ideas and experiences around the theme of green growth. Participants emphasized that positive environmental outcomes can be consistent with economic prosperity, and that greater social wellbeing can be achieved through ‘less use, more value’ policies.
The paper, which was reviewed by Saudi Gazette newspaper, noted that Saudi Arabia’s pathway to a green economy will differ from those of other countries. The Kingdom has a strong competitive advantage as a global oil supplier and produces the lowest carbon-intensive oil extraction in the world. This advantage could be exploited through the wider implementation of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) to move toward net-zero carbon oil production.
‘Utilization’ generally involves recycling carbon byproducts into useful chemicals, while ‘storage’ traps carbon in geological formations. These technologies could significantly contribute to the decarbonization of transport globally.
The workshop brief, titled “Green Growth Pathways for Saudi Arabia,” indicated that the Kingdom has already started implementing the reductions in carbon emissions and the transition to green growth by adopting the concept of the circular carbon economy (CCE) as part of the Kingdom’s G20 presidency, diversifying its economy under Saudi Vision 2030 (SV2030), reducing its overreliance on oil, reforming energy prices and setting standards for efficiency use. This contributed to the first ever significant policy-induced reductions in carbon emissions, even as the economy continued to expand and grow.
Thamir Al Shehri, one of the paper’s authors, noted: “One of the most important advantages of the Saudi Green Initiative is fostering the coordination across SV2030 initiatives, government agencies and other key players while highlighting the significance of the green transition already underway. This is a common problem facing other countries in pursuit of similar economic transformations.”
The workshop participants emphasized that the downstream industries based on the Kingdom’s access to low-cost, low-carbon oil production provide another area for green growth. The petrochemical industry could increase its use of renewable energy and improve its efficiency, allowing the Kingdom to position itself as a supplier of low-carbon basic petrochemicals as well as higher-value specialty chemicals and materials.
The paper highlighted that the green economy represents an opportunity to provide meaningful and attractive jobs for women and men, as the skilled labor required for a knowledge-based economy is similar to what is needed for a ‘greener’ energy economy. By 2030, 100,000 jobs could be added after the green economy transition.
The workshop participants considered that transitioning to a more knowledge-based society with higher-value economic activities will encourage a less carbon-intensive economy. This will support Saudi Arabia in reaching the goals of the future vision and reducing 130,000 million tonnes of carbon emissions per annum by 2030 through economic diversification and the use of lower carbon alternatives to oil and gas.
The workshop brief recommended the need to enhance social acceptance and inclusion by designing large-scale urban infrastructure ‘megaprojects’ that seek to advance green growth in order to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, and net-zero carbon emissions. For example, the Green Riyadh project which aims to increase the number of green spaces, and the public transport project which will contribute to reducing emissions from transportation within the cities. These are in addition to projects such as The Line, AMAALA, Al-Qiddiya and the Red Sea projects that will contribute to changing the concept of the community’s relationship with the surrounding environment in terms of mobility, work, shopping, learning and entertainment.
District-level cooling and zoning policies can encourage green growth through a more holistic approach that includes reflective and green roofs, cooling corridors and temperature-reducing ecological and biophysical elements. For example, the district-level cooling project at the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh.
KAPSARC workshops are an interactive and participatory platform, bringing together stakeholders, experts, and specialists in energy and economics. The Center collaborates with a number of global think tanks, public policy organizations, government and industrial institutions to exchange knowledge and recommendations which aim at improving the communities’ wellbeing locally and globally.
This article originally appeared on Saudi Gazette