Leaders in the Middle East emphasized the role of international cooperation, technology transfer and financial instruments in the transition to a green global economy ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, talking up investments in renewables and highlighting the need to not damage economic growth at the inaugural Middle East Green Initiative Summit in Riyadh Oct. 25.
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the country would lead regional efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and plant 50 billion trees to combat climate change.
"We gather today to join forces and coordinate our efforts to protect the environment, confront climate change, and develop a roadmap towards reducing carbon emissions in the region," Prince Mohammed said.
Saudi Arabia would develop a regional center for carbon capture, utilization and storage, he added.
The country will also establish a fund to invest in a "carbon circular economy," valued at Riyal 39 billion ($10.4 billion), he said.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Ali Allawi said the clean energy transition should be conducted in a "gradual manner" that worked towards sustainability without a negative impact to the economy.
Allawi noted the "special burden" that oil-producing countries faced in the global ambition to reach net-zero emissions, highlighting the need for industrialized countries to transfer knowledge and technology to help developing countries reach emissions goals.
Iraq aimed to add 12 GW of solar generation in the next 10 years, and planned to reduce methane emissions in line with the goals of the UN COP26 summit in November, he added.
Leaders noted the growing challenges of climate change to the region, from water scarcity and heat waves to resource pressure from refugee crises and spreading desertification.
Kuwait's Crown Prince Mishal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah said "the future of humanity lies within green solutions," while Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II noted the "effects of climate change know no borders."
Algeria's Prime Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane said the global energy transition should take into account the differences between different countries' contributions to tackling climate change, but noted renewable hydrogen production was a priority for the country in the energy transition, among other measures.
Morocco's Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch said that "financing is the crucial element to build a green, sustainable economy," adding that new financing tools were needed, along with a coordinated, integrated approach with the international community.
Morocco aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030, Akhannouch said.
Also speaking at the conference, Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his country could be a gateway to Europe for clean energy exports from the Middle East, citing a proposed interconnector with Egypt, and pointing to the possibility of hydrogen imports from the wider Middle East.
Greece aims to install 2 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, Mitsotakis said. The country will receive Eur32 billion ($37 billion) in EU Recovery and Resilience funding over the coming years, and will dedicate a significant share of this to renewables, he added.