Saudi Arabia hosts MENA climate week ahead of COP28 in Dubai

by Zain Chaudhary in Uncategorized 10/10/2023

MENA Climate Week opening session in Riyadh on October 8, 2023. (Ayush Narayanan, Al Arabiya English)

The Saudi government is set to host a week-long climate event in the capital city of Riyadh starting Sunday in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The event, which will bring together policy makers, private sector firms, youth campaigners, and other key stakeholders in the climate change and sustainability sphere, will be held at the Boulevard Riyadh City.

The ‘MENA Climate Week’ is being held ahead of the UN climate conference COP28 in Dubai from late November. The Saudi event comes at a crucial time when a majority of the countries have identified climbing temperatures as a problem and have since promised to take measures to curb the effects of global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2050.

“The goal of the week is to address the complexities, challenges and opportunities of climate change, collectively offering views that will ultimately be considered as part of the climate ‘stocktake’ at COP28 in November,” according to a Saudi Ministry of Energy statement.

The stock take quantifies the global progress made against the 2015 Paris Agreement linked to keeping the global warming temperature in check.

The Riyadh event, which runs until Thursday, has been divided to focus on four aspects of tackling climate change: Energy systems and industry; cities, urban and rural settlements, infrastructure and transport; land, ocean, food and water; and societies, health, livelihoods, and economies.

It is part of regional climate weeks, held annually in Africa; Latin America and the Caribbean; Asia-Pacific; and the Middle East and Northern Africa.

The event will flag off with keynotes from the Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, COP28 President-Designate Sultan al-Jaber, Egyptian foreign affairs minister Sameh Shoukry and the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell.

Saudi Arabia, one of the leading producers and exporters of oil, is among those countries who have pledged a net-zero target by 2060 with aims to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

The Kingdom is expected to announce projects and MoUs at the climate week gathering that will formalize parts of its national plan to combat climate change.

In 2021, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the launch of the Saudi Green Initiative which would focus on reducing emissions, afforestation to the scale of 10 billion trees in the decades that follow, and protecting its land and sea.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the wider Middle East and North Africa region are at risk from climbing sea levels, droughts, and warmer weather. Apart from impacts to the environment, it can also impact quality of life by directly contributing to higher costs of living, as Al Arabiya English reported in September.

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