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RIYADH: Technology could provide the sustainable solutions needed to tackle climate change and advance a clean and inclusive energy transition, experts said on the sidelines of the LEAP23 conference in Riyadh on Monday.

Governments and businesses around the world are responding to rising global temperatures by pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. However, many experts believe that these commitments can only be realized through the adoption of new technologies.

At the second edition of LEAP, an annual four-day technology convention, climate scientists rubbed shoulders with industry leaders to explore how technology can help mitigate or even reverse the effects of climate change.

Dr. Gasem Fallatah, Deputy Director of the Oil Sustainability Program at the Saudi Ministry of Energy, believes that a just energy transition can be achieved through inclusivity with collaborative approaches between governments and industry.

Gasem Fallatah, from the Department of Energy’s Petroleum Sustainability Program. (A photo)

The key word [for energy transition] is inclusiveness, Fallatah told Arab News on the sidelines of LEAP23.

We must consider that as we move into this transition and allow each nation, geography, and economy to choose what works best for them, while respecting what you are expected to provide.

In Saudi Arabia, inclusiveness is vital because we serve all sources of energy: we are not inclined to one form or another. We are very balanced when it comes to providing energy in the energy mix that we have, but we are also very committed to the transition and its realization.

And that’s why working with an oil sustainability program allows us to find ways to continue to use our resources in a sustainable way that will allow us to ensure that we get value from our resources. However, we are also respecting our commitments in favor of an energy transition towards which the world is transforming.


Saudi and Middle Eastern green initiatives integrate environmental protection, energy transition and innovative sustainability programs to achieve a green future.

Under these two initiatives, Saudi Arabia aims to leverage its expertise, champion scientific innovation and share best practices with the world.

The programs focus on three areas: development, sustainability and innovation position the Kingdom to move forward rapidly in its energy transition process.

In terms of innovation, the program has been very active in promoting new technologies, either by improving the technological readiness level of these applications or by scaling it up when it is ready for application.

Fallatah added: We are very active in understanding the trends that govern or drive the energy ecosystem, as we are adamant about not letting go and finding every opportunity to help support oil, but also to maintain the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in this regard. transition.

We have a legacy of several years and we want to maintain this leadership by contributing to this transition. How do we do this? We do this through development, by working on sustainability, but also by working on innovation.

Saudi Arabia is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2060. The country has undertaken billion-dollar climate change initiatives under the Saudi Green Initiative, which aims to establish a regional carbon capture and storage center, a storm early warning center and cloud seeding programs as part of its efforts to create a greener future.

Young people call for action on emissions. (AFP)

The Saudi Green Initiative includes plans to plant 450 million trees and rehabilitate 8 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, reducing 200 million tonnes of carbon emissions with additional initiatives to be announced in the coming years. coming.

Saudi Arabia has launched and built several large renewable energy projects, taking advantage of its natural potential in solar and wind power. It aims to produce 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030, with the remaining 50% coming from natural gas.

The Kingdom also aims to become a world leader in hydrogen and invests in nuclear energy.

While achieving a net-zero economy 30 to 40 years from now may seem daunting, dozens of renewable energy breakthroughs are on the horizon, many of which are now making their way to market, as companies make their own net zero commitments and invest in clean energy. technologies.

For the transition to remain technically and economically feasible and beneficial, policy initiatives must steer the global energy transition towards a sustainable energy system.

LEAP conference attendees watch a demonstration. (Provided)

Sustainable transition strategies generally consist of three important technological developments: energy savings on the demand side, generation efficiency on the production level and the substitution of fossil fuels by various renewable energy sources and the low-carbon nuclear.

The large-scale adoption of renewables includes measures to improve the efficiency of existing non-renewable sources, which still have a substantial cost-saving and stabilizing role.

Experts warn that failure to act on emissions and the energy transition would be catastrophic.

There will be no jobs on a dead planet. If we want prosperity for our people, we must ensure prosperity in a country that thrives, Dr. Paul Toyne, Grimshaw SD Practice Leader and expert advisor on environmental and sustainability goals, told Arab News at LEAP23.

We know that climate change is one of the biggest or greatest threats to our planet and our livelihoods, but we also know that if we solve climate change, we don’t necessarily solve the other problems that have arisen. products. So once we have a climate crisis, we also have a biodiversity crisis.

Although governments are exploring ways to switch from oil and gas to renewables, Toyne points out that the process will take some time, even with proper planning and investment.

He said: We need to make our cities resilient to climate change and recognize that it will get worse, and adapt to create resilience.

If we tackle the solution of climate change with technologies and we switch very quickly to renewable energies and restore the balance in terms of carbon pollution, how do we restore the other ecosystems that we need?

All of these economies and sectors need to go through self-correction, which needs to be guided by the right policies, good governance, and funding for regenerative sectors.

It takes us into a space of the unknown, but as a society we have more tools at our disposal, digital tools and scientific breakthroughs, to provide solutions.

Putting the world on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050-60 requires a substantial increase in capital-intensive clean energy assets.

The annual four-day technology convention in Riyadh is in its second year. (Provided)

Some believe this could hamper the energy transition process due to cost, but climate finance professionals such as Gerhard Mulder, CEO and co-founder of Climate Risk Services, believe this is not necessarily the case.

There are upfront costs for a transition to a low-carbon economy, and numbers that run into the trillions and, yes, in that sense, it’s very expensive, he told Arab. News.

However, if you look at electricity, for example, in more than half of the world, solar and wind are already more profitable than most forms of fossil fuel-based generation.

At a time when many countries are facing macroeconomic crises, due in part to the disruption caused by the conflict in Ukraine, Mulder believes the innovations will help stabilize energy, even in times of volatility. Indeed, by moving to low-carbon economies, we will have more stable societies, he said.

The key word is to build resilience and that means you prepare for an unstable future, unpredictable events, so you can handle multiple scenarios, he added.

Although the climate challenge sometimes seems insurmountable, Mulder says he has never felt so optimistic about humanity’s response as he does today.

When I started working [in the climate field] many denied the science, he said. Today, no one can. Many said it was a future problem, but the problem is already here. We have limited time, which is the bad news, but that’s the decade we need to do it.

There is a lot of money available and a lot of technology available to invest in disruptive technologies, and we can already do a lot with existing technologies by creating new markets so that we can scale up the process.




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