SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Saudi Arabia will contribute $2.5 billion to the Middle East Green Initiative over the next 10 years and host its headquarters in the Kingdom, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Monday.
The Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, will also aim for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the crown prince said in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, as world leaders gathered for the COP27 climate change conference.
The Middle East Green Initiative was launched by the crown prince last year with the aim of reducing carbon emissions from regional hydrocarbon production by more than 60 percent.
It also aims to plant 50 billion trees across the Middle East and restore an area equivalent to 200 million hectares of degraded land. The initiative will reduce global carbon levels by 2.5 percent.
Saudi Arabia plans to rely on renewables for 50 percent of its electricity generation by 2030, the crown prince said, removing 44 million tons of carbon emissions by 2035.
“With concerted regional efforts, the initiative seeks to support the efforts and cooperation of the region to reduce emissions and remove more than 670 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is the amount of nationally determined contributions of all countries of the region, and represents 10 percent of global contributions when the initiative was announced,” the crown prince said.
#WATCH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s speech during the #MiddleEastGreenInitiative stating that #SaudiArabia has accelerated its development and adoption of clean #energy technology and resources to manage hydrocarbon emissions | https://t.co/z9AjgX64mS pic.twitter.com/yxmRJLZbnm
— Arab News | Business (@ArabNewsBiz) November 7, 2022
Reaching the desired goals of the Middle East Green Initiative required regional cooperation and effective contributions from member states, he said.
Several initiatives were launched at the last summit to combat emissions through afforestation. A regional center for climate change and a cloud seeding program is among the initiatives, he said.
To achieve the emissions reduction target, the crown prince said the Kingdom had launched the Saudi Green Initiative. This initiative aimed to reduce emissions by more than 270 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 using a circular carbon economy approach, along with other initiatives.
The Public Investment Fund will be one of the first sovereign funds globally and the first in the Middle East to achieve greenhouse net- zero by 2050, demonstrating its role as a key player in supporting global efforts to combat climate change, said the crown prince.
Saudi Arabia said last year it aimed to contribute 15 percent of the $10.4 billion required for the fund’s clean energy projects.
NEW YORK: It took less than a week for FTX to go from the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world to bankruptcy court.
The embattled cryptocurrency exchange, short billions of dollars, sought bankruptcy protection after the exchange experienced the crypto equivalent of a bank run. FTX, the hedge fund Alameda Research, and dozens of other affiliated companies filed a bankruptcy petition in Delaware on Friday morning. FTX US, which originally was not expected to be included in any financial rescue, was also part of the company’s bankruptcy filing.
CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried has resigned, the company said. Bankman-Fried was recently estimated to be worth $23 billion and has been a prominent political donor to Democrats. His net worth has all but evaporated, according to Forbes and Bloomberg, which closely track the net worth of the world’s richest people.
“I was shocked to see things unravel the way they did earlier in the week,” Bankman-Fried wrote in a series of posts on Twitter.
FTX’s unraveling is causing ripple effects. Already companies that backed FTX are writing down their investments. Politicians and regulators are ramping up calls for stricter oversight of the crypto industry. And this latest crisis has put pressure on the prices of bitcoin and other digital currencies. The total market value of all digital currencies dropped by about $150 billion in the last week, according to CoinMarketCap.com.
FTX’s failure goes beyond finance. The company had major sports sponsorships as well, including Formula One racing, a sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball as well as a sports arena in Miami. Mercedes said it would remove FTX from its race cars starting this weekend.
FTX and Bankman-Fried, as well as his brother, were also early investors in Semafor, the high profile news startup run by former BuzzFeed editor-in-chief and New York Times columnist Ben Smith.
Bankman-Fried has other problems as well. On Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission were looking into FTX to determine whether any criminal activity or securities offenses were committed. The person could not discuss details of the investigations publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The investigation is centered on the possibility that FTX may have used customers’ deposits to fund bets at Alameda Research. In traditional markets, brokers are expected to separate client funds from other company assets. Violations can be punished by regulators. Financial company MF Global effectively failed for a similar practice roughly a decade ago when it intermingled client assets with its own bets.
In its bankruptcy filing, FTX listed more than 130 affiliated companies circled around the globe. The company valued its assets between $10 billion to $50 billion, with a similar estimate for its liabilities. The company appointed as its new CEO John Ray III, a long-time bankruptcy litigator who is best known for having to clean up the mess made after the collapse of Enron.
FTX’s bankruptcy is certainly to be one of the most complicated bankruptcy cases in years. The company listed more than 100,000 creditors on its filing, and with all of its customers effectively being creditors because they deposited their funds with FTX, it will take months to sort out who is owed what, bankruptcy lawyers said. Cryptocurrencies have no protections under law, and politicians on both sides of the aisle issued statements opposing any Lehman Brothers-like bailout for crypto investors.
“Unlike a case where there’s (securities insurance in the failure of a brokerage) or where the FDIC steps in with a bank failure, these customers are totally exposed,” said Daniel Besikof, a partner at Loeb & Loeb LLP who specializes in bankruptcy law.
FTX had agreed earlier this week to sell itself to bigger rival Binance after experiencing the cryptocurrency equivalent of a bank run. Customers fled the exchange after becoming concerned about whether FTX had sufficient capital.
The crypto world had hoped that Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, might be able to rescue FTX and its depositors. However, after Binance took a look at FTX’s books, it concluded that the smaller exchange’s problems were too big to solve and backed out of the deal.
FTX is the latest in a series of cascading disasters that have shaken the crypto sector, now under intense pressure from collapsing prices and circling financial regulators. Its failure is already being felt throughout the crypto universe.
On Thursday, the venture capital fund Sequoia Capital said Thursday it is writing down its total investment of nearly $215 million in FTX.
The cryptocurrency lender BlockFi announced on Twitter late Thursday that it is “not able to do business as usual” and pausing client withdrawals as a result of FTX’s implosion.
In a letter posted to its Twitter profile late Thursday, BlockFi — which was bailed out by Bankman-Fried’s FTX early last summer — said it was “shocked and dismayed by the news regarding FTX and Alameda.”
The company ended by saying any future communications about its status “will be less frequent that what our clients and other stakeholders are used to.”
Bitcoin tumbled immediately after the letter was posted and is trading below $17,000. The original cryptocurrency, bitcoin had been hovering around $20,000 for months before FTX’s problems became public this week, sending it down briefly to around $15,500.
Shares of the publicly traded cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase and the online trading platform Robinhood each rose nearly 12 percent.
SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt: Fresh details about Saudi Arabia’s Green Initiative targets were revealed on Friday during the first day of the SGI Forum in the Egyptian city of Sharm El-Sheikh.
The Saudi Green Initiative, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year along with a wider Middle East Green Initiative, presents a road map for the Kingdom’s climate action and paves the way for it to achieve its goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2060.
Speaking at the forum, which is taking place on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP27, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said his country is supporting climate initiatives in the Kingdom as well as in developing countries.
He said innovation is key to supporting the next generation, protecting the environment and developing renewable energies.
However, he added that new practices are needed to safely use current energy sources and work towards transition.
The prince called on the public to be mindful of energy consumption, and said Saudi Aramco and other national bodies are taking steps to reduce waste.
“The entire government is working in unison to deliver the Saudi Green Initiative,” he said.
“Next year, we will be finalizing the plans for developing 10 more renewable-energy projects and connecting an additional 840 megawatts of solar PV (photovoltaic) power to our grid.
“Today, we are announcing that we will launch a greenhouse gas crediting and offsetting scheme at the beginning of 2023 to support and incentivize efforts and investments in emission reduction and removal projects in all sectors in the Kingdom.”
Over the past year, Saudi Arabia has accelerated the pace of its action on climate change. It aims to achieve the SGI target of placing 30 percent of its land and sea territory under protection by 2030. It will also plant more than 600 million trees within the same time frame — an increase of more than 150 million over the initial aim.
Prince Abdulaziz also announced the signing of an agreement with Saudi Aramco to develop one of the largest planned carbon capture and storage hubs in the world.
At this year’s SGI Forum, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman witnessed the launch of two pilot projects for carbon capture and utilization led by:
@KAUST_News, @NEOM and @SEC_KSA
@AlsafwaCement and Abdullah Hashim Industrial Gases & Equipment. pic.twitter.com/iRt3gpNqqV
Scheduled to open in 2027 in Jubail Industrial City, it will extract and store nine million tons of carbon dioxide a year in its initial phase. The Kingdom aims to store 44 million tons a year by 2035.
Three carbon-capture pilot projects were also announced at the summit, involving King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the NEOM smart city, the Saudi Electricity Company, Alsafwa Cement Company, Ma’aden and Gulf Cryo.
Since the launch of the SGI, more than 18 million trees have been planted in the Kingdom. Of those, 13 million are mangroves.
The regeneration of Saudi Arabia’s natural wetland forests aims to provide a living barrier against shoreline erosion and a natural defense against climate change; the trees sequester five times more carbon than tropical forests.
The Kingdom has also launched 17 initiatives across the country to restore natural greenery. As part of its contribution to the trees target, the NEOM smart city project this year announced that 1.5 million hectares of land would be rehabilitated, and 100 million native trees, shrubs and grasses planted by 2030.
“Saudi Arabia is taking environmental action on a national, regional and international level,” Environment Minister Abdulrahman Al-Fadley told the summit.
“As a global community, we have to work comprehensively and take multiple actions in parallel.
“In Saudi Arabia we have a clear strategy that identifies the gaps we have in our environmental policy and works to find nature-based solutions.”
Khaled Alhusaini, the senior engineer at the Saudi Ministry of Energy, said the Saudi Green Initiative paves the way for integrated work within the Kingdom’s different entities, ministries, organizations and companies working in the same strategic directions, “believing that shaping tomorrow through today’s actions.”
“The minister in the Ministry of Energy is working on many projects and initiatives, such as renewable energy, clean hydrogen production, and carbon capture utilization policy,” he told Arab News.
Regarding the youth, he stressed they play an important role and have employed several youths within the energy ministry, in the hope that they can deliver their strategic objectives and KPIs, and SGI aims to deliver on that.
“The big message for the world is that Saudi Arabia is changing, Saudi Arabia is making a big difference here within the Middle East region, so we are enjoying that (we can) deliver the message to that and to the people here,” he said.
“So many people are impressed by the efforts of Saudi Arabia, they say they have seen the projects, what is done, what is going on and what is the plan for the future,” he said. “This is a big message to the world that Saudi Arabia has a dream and acting for that’s achievable.”
Industry Minister Bandar Al-Khorayef highlighted the importance of mining to the country’s economic development. He told the forum that his government will keep “feeding” opportunities to companies that are interested in tapping into the Kingdom’s estimated $1.3 trillion mining sector.
Al-Khorayef said Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning mining industry could learn from its oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors on how to scale up production.
The minister added that the Kingdom has many advantages over other nations.
“Globally, the time it takes to get a mining license is just ridiculous. Saudi Arabia provides mining licenses in 90 to 180 days, but globally, it takes years,” he said.
He added that the ministry carried out three license auctions this year and that five more are coming up next year.
“In addition to our resources, our geographical location, we believe Saudi Arabia could be a great asset for the global community’s resilience,” he said.
“Looking at our experience, how we link oil and gas business to the petrochemical business, where it is really a seamless operation, where we were able to get the highest impact.
“That is why we are more competitive. If we do the same thing in mining, I am sure that we can do much more than expected.”
Tarek El-Molla, the Egyptian minister of petroleum and mineral resources, told the COP27 summit that energy efficiency, reducing emissions, and decarbonization are among his country’s main priorities but he called on private companies to play a more active role.
He said Egypt wants to be a major partner in environmental and carbon initiatives and is using COP27 as a first step in the run-up to the next global climate summit, COP28, in the UAE next year.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH: US President Joe Biden addressed the COP27 climate conference in Egypt on Thursday, saying the global climate crisis posed an existential threat to the planet and promising that the US was doing its part to combat it.
“The climate crisis is about human security, economic security, environmental security, national security, and the very life of the planet,” Biden said, before outlining steps the US, the world’s second-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, was taking.
“I can stand here as president of the United States of America and say with confidence, the United States of America will meet our emissions targets by 2030,” he said
His speech was intended to remind government representatives gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh to keep alive a goal of keeping the global average temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius to avert the worst impacts of planetary warming. It came even as a slew of crises — from a land war in Europe to rampant inflation — distract international focus.
“Against this backdrop, it’s more urgent than ever that we double down on our climate commitments. Russia’s war only enhances the urgency of the need to transition the world off its dependence on fossil fuels,” he said.
Prior to his arrival, Biden’s administration sought to set the stage by unveiling a domestic plan to crack down hard on the US oil and gas industry’s emissions of methane, one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, in a move that defied months of lobbying by drillers.
Washington and the EU were also planning to issue a joint declaration on Friday pledging more action on oil industry methane, building on an international deal launched last year and since signed by 119 nations to cut economy-wide emissions 30 percent this decade.
The announcements come under a cloud of skepticism that world governments are doing enough to address warming.
A UN report released last week showed global emissions on track to rise 10.6 percent by 2030 compared with 2010 levels, even as devastating storms, droughts, wildfires and floods are already inflict billions of dollars in damage worldwide.
Scientists say emissions must instead drop 43 percent by that time to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures as targeted by the Paris Agreement of 2015 — the threshold above which climate change risks start spinning out of control.
Many countries, including the US and members of the EU, are also calling for increased supply of fossil fuels in the near-term to help bring down consumer energy prices that have spiked since Russia’s war on Ukraine.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is leading the world in efforts to promote sustainable tourism, former Mexico president Felipe Calderón insisted during a panel at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum heard.
Speaking at the event – taking place alongside the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt – Calderón, who is now honorary chairman of Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, praised the Kingdom for its drive in this area.
Driven by its 2030 vision, Saudi Arabia has placed an emphasis on sustainable tourism, as well as protecting the environment, in projects such as its Red Sea development.
“What is attractive to me about this initiative is that Saudi Arabia is not just thinking about itself. I believe that sustainable tourism has taken the responsibility to lead the world,” he noted.
Calderón also talked up the importance of tourism in helping the economies of developing countries.
“Tourism is the most powerful generator of jobs in developing and poor countries,” said Calderón, adding: “The idea is not to stop tourism, we need tourism but in a sustainable way.”
Ahmed Aqil Al Khateeb, the minister of tourism in Saudi Arabia, doubled down on the Kingdom’s commitment to making the sector environmentally friendly, telling the panel: “We have just announced yesterday the commissioning of 60 global experts from 30 different countries to work on and develop the baseline of sustainability in tourism.”
He adde: “The global tourism industry is contributing roughly 8 percent to the greenhouse emissions, and about 14 percent of the global solid waste. At the same time, this industry is expected to almost double by 2030.”
On a private sector account of sustainable tourism, John Pagano, the CEO of the Saudi based Red Sea Global, discussed the efforts taken by RSG towards sustainable and regenerative tourism.
RSG took a distinct approach to reach ambitious goals, where they “valued their natural capital as their most valuable asset,” declared Pagano.
“Right from the beginning, we started really understanding the place, the habitats, the ecosystem. Sustainability is no longer enough, we really do need to think about regeneration, and by that we mean making the place better.”
More than 2 million trees have been grown in the company’s landscape nursery, the first solar farms will soon be completed for phase one, 75 percent of their more than 90 islands are to be left untouched, and sustainable accountability is to be demanded from RSG’s personnel.
“We have forced everybody, all the hotel operators, all the major global hotel chains, to sign master cooperation agreements with us and make sure that they are held accountable to the high standards of the bars we have set in sustainability concern,” said Pagano.
“We all live under one sky, on one planet, breathing the same air and drinking the same water. Simply finding a better way for our own projects is not enough. We must export our learnings and the techniques we develop to the rest of the world to ensure a global solution to a shared crisis,” he added.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Mining Co., known as Ma’aden wants to be the third pillar of the Kingdom’s economy, as efforts to diversify the nation’s revenue sources progress steadily in line with the visions outlined in Vision 2030, a top official said.
Speaking during a session of the Saudi Green Initiative, happening on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, company CEO Robert Wilt said that Ma’aden is successfully pursuing its journey aimed at turning the mining sector a strong contributor to the Kingdom’s economy.
“Ma’aden’s market cap is now probably $50 billion and it is still counting,” said Wilt.
Reiterating the words of Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef, Wilt noted that Ma’aden will help find mineral resources in the Kingdom worth $1.3 trillion.
The CEO further noted that the company commissioned a gold mine and an ammonia plant in the past 10 months.
According to Wilt, obtaining a mining license in Saudi Arabia is free from hassled regulatory pressures, and the Kingdom offers a positive business environment for companies operating in the sector.
Talking about environmental sustainability, Wilt noted that Ma’aden is strictly following environmental, social, and governance principles, despite operating in an extraction industry.
“Ma’aden eyes carbon reduction and groundwater reduction in its operations. My board and our investors are deadly serious about ensuring sustainability,” he said.
He added: “We are doing everything from an ESG perspective. This week alone, we signed a carbon circular to take carbon out of our process and inject it into food and beverage.”
He added that Ma’aden is adopting technologies to reduce the entire turnaround time of the mining process.
“The timeline for exploration and discovery to setting up a processing plant usually takes 20 years, and it needs to be 6 to 9 years now. Every aspect of the industry needs to be changed significantly. It is being digitized. We need artificial intelligence. We need smart people, and that is going to be a huge opportunity for talents in the Kingdom,” said Wilt.
Recalling his moments in Saudi Arabia during his tenure with the US Army, Wilt said that he is proud to be in the Kingdom, and become a part of history by playing a role in materializing the goals set as a part of Vision 2030.