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Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia unveils campaign to tackle climate change

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia unveils campaign to tackle climate change

Crown prince says 10 billion trees to be planted in coming decades; doesn’t explain how this will work in desert landscape with extremely limited renewable water sources

RIAYDH — Top crude exporter Saudi Arabia on Saturday unveiled a sweeping campaign to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions, including a plan to plant billions of trees in the coming decades.

The OPEC kingpin seems an unlikely champion of clean energy, but the “Saudi Green Initiative” aims to reduce emissions by generating half of its energy from renewables by 2030, de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.

Riyadh also plans to work with other Arab states on a “Middle East Green Initiative” to plant an additional 40 billion trees, in what would be the world’s largest reforestation program, he added.

“The kingdom, the region and the world needs to go much further and faster in combatting climate change,” Prince Mohammed said.

“We reject the false choice between preserving the economy and protecting the environment.”

The statement did not elaborate on how the mammoth plan would be executed in a largely desert landscape with extremely limited renewable water sources.

Saudi Arabia currently draws on oil and natural gas to both meet its own fast-growing power demand and desalinate its water — which consumes huge quantities of oil daily.

The new initiatives are part of the prince’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify the kingdom’s oil-reliant economy.

Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia and the region face “significant climate challenges,” including desertification, which poses an “immediate economic risk.”

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