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Saudi Aramco’s Al-Midra office building in Dhahran
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over its 4,500 parking spaces.

COP21: What is at stake for developing countries?

RIYADH, November 23, 2015

As anticipation builds in the lead up to the 21st climate change conference in Paris, France, or COP21 as it is known, Saudi Aramco takes a look at what is at stake for developing countries.

The world’s senior global experts in climate change are to reach a global agreement on addressing the challenges of climate change at what has been already dubbed the most important climate conference to date.

Since February, countries have been publishing their contributions to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, ahead of December’s UN conference in Paris that aims to deliver a new international climate agreement.

Both mitigation and adaptation are equally important – while the former looks at avoiding activities that are believed to affect climate change, the latter looks at measures that need to be taken once it occurs.

Development priorities

It is agreed internationally that climate change and a wider set of global development priorities need to be addressed holistically. Saudi Arabia continues to make significant investment into key enablers, notably in education, healthcare and infrastructure and increasing energy productivity and efficiency.

The Kingdom’s circumstances are fundamentally different from that of developed countries – for example, think how much lower the energy intensity of the Kingdom would be if it had Europe’s average temperatures.

So the challenge is to sustain the nation’s development journey while exploring pragmatic and effective solutions with regards to climate.

Saudi Arabia is improving the efficiency in its power sector and is reducing the share of liquid fuels in this sector. The Kingdom views alternative energy sources such as natural gas, renewables and nuclear as complementary to, not competing with oil.

Critical to Saudi Arabia is the diversification of its economy and the creation of jobs for its youthful population, not a small task under any circumstances, but a particular challenge and a resource intensive journey for the Kingdom’s development context.

More with less

Part of the natural development journey of any nation is the continued advancement and improvement of competitiveness.

Broadening the national energy mix and capturing more value through a more diversified economy is what it will take in Kingdom. Renewable electricity scale and competitiveness will play a role and is now a significant trend in the global energy industry. Ultimately it will offer the Kingdom the ability to economically diversify its domestic power mix, create dynamic and competitive industry, and offer a growth market for regional electricity sales, global material exports and project development for Saudi companies.

As the Kingdom strives to continuously provide access to reliable, viable and affordable sources of energy to a growing global population, the Kingdom is in tandem working hard on managing the carbon intensity related to existing domestic solutions and infrastructure.

Optimization of ambitions and planning is a significant joint effort currently undertaken by a wide range of national key stakeholders and institutions.

Adaptation and diversification

According to Khalid M Abuleif Lead Negotiator going into COP21, adaptation and economic diversification are key going forward.

“When we say ‘adapt’, it means that we really need to diversify our economy and that we cannot continue to be highly dependent on a single source of income for the next 40 to 50 years.

“If we are really looking for sustainable development, we have to find ways and means to convert that precious value into other forms that could continue to move on and advance the Kingdom's economy,” Abuleif said.  

Another key for developing countries is technology, because it allows development in parallel with breakthroughs that allow for greater sustainable development.

Therefore, when it comes to global alignment on climate change mitigation and adaptation, Saudi Arabia and other developing countries need a strong agreement, but one that enables progress within the required context.

“An agreement that caters only to the context of countries that are more advanced will not enable Developing Countries to do what they need to do,” Abuleif added.

“Sustainable Development is at the very heart of Saudi interest. This is why we have been engaged in the UNFCCC for many years and have participated in the development of the UN post-2015 agenda.

Societal enablers

“We agree that we need to address global development priorities holistically and the only way to achieve this is through international collaboration and technology transfer. Climate Change mitigation, adaptation are among the critical challenges, along with the need for economic and societal enablers.

“We realized many years ago that we cannot continue to be exposed to the volatility of a single commodity but tap on it to raise our economic resilience through diversification, while we need to reduce our energy intensity, increase the country’s productivity and provide jobs for a very young and fast growing population.

“Such a transition is not a small task, but we (the Kingdom) have put a range of programs in place, driving the diversification of our economy, improving our energy productivity, and addressing climate change as a win-win by product ” Abuleif said. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: aramco | climate change | Developing Countries |

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