Saudi Arabia has announced a SR700 billion ($186.63 billion) investment in developing a green economy and is spearheading a region-wide initiative to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions.
The kingdom will plant 450 million trees and rehabilitate 8 million hectares of degraded lands by 2030 as part of the first set of the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) strategies announced by Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Supreme Committee for Green Saudi Arabia Chairman HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud last month.
Prince Mohammed later unveiled the regional road map to protect the environment under the kingdom’s first-ever SGI.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also noted that Saudi Arabia has already launched initiatives in the energy sector to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes annually by 2030 – more than double the reduction in emissions targeted earlier. This is in line with the country’s plan to reach net zero carbon impact by 2060, while preserving its role in the security and stability of global energy markets.
In line with the kingdom’s green drive, the Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC) has announced its new sustainability strategy for the Saudi capital which includes 68 ambitious initiatives and projects across five sectors: energy and climate change, air quality, water management, waste management, biodiversity, and natural areas.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also Chairman of the Board of Directors of RCRC, last month launched the Riyadh Sustainability Strategy at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum. The strategy will see carbon emissions in the city reduced by 50 per cent. In addition, there will be SR346 billion invested in sustainability initiatives and projects, stimulating the private sector, he added.
RCRC Chief Executive Officer Fahd Al Rasheed emphasised the efficient management of natural resources, referring to an investment of SR30 billion to increase the use of treated water for irrigation in Riyadh from 11 per cent to 100 per cent. The plans also commit to investing nearly SR56 billion in waste management projects to recycle 94 per cent of waste into energy.
According to him, Riyadh’s new sustainability strategy will positively impact livability across the city.
Al Rasheed pointed out that at the time of completion, the King Abdulaziz Project for Public Transport in Riyadh will boost the adoption of public transportation in the city from five to 20 per cent, driven by a SR112.5 billion investment that is expected to reduce the number of daily trips by one million, which will result in a reduction of roughly 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. By 2030, on the roads, the capital plans to reach electric vehicle usage to up to 30 per cent.
He said the environmental investments announced by HRH Crown Prince will save the city between SR40 billion and SR65 billion.
Acccording to him, the RCRC is investing SR30 billion in projects such as the Green Riyadh initiative, which is one of Riyadh’s four mega projects and a major contributor to the Sustainable Development Goals Index.
The Green Riyadh and Riyadh Sustainability initiatives aim to plant 15 million trees and increase the per capita share of green space from 1.7 sq m to 28 sq m, within urban areas by 2030. This will lower city temperatures by 1.5 to 2 deg C and reduce the main radiant temperature in the range of 8 to 15 degrees in the shade.
More than 3,300 neighbourhood parks of varying sizes and 43 major city parks will be built in the city of Riyadh, with the aim of improving quality of life.
Al Rasheed said the RCRC is set to invest another SR30 billion to increase energy production from renewable sources by 50 per cent, thus making the city’s energy mix more sustainable.