Saudi Arabia has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Middle East Green Initiative Summit, which will take place in October. Through the initiative, the country aims to lead regional efforts in combating climate change. The invite by the Saudis shows India’s centrality on climate issues.
The Middle East Green Initiative, along with the Saudi Green Initiative, was announced in March of this year by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He said, “The Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives are only a start. The Kingdom, the region and the world need to go much further and faster in combating climate change”.
Under the Middle East Green Initiative, Saudi Arabia will work with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Middle Eastern countries to plant 40 billion trees in that part of the world. The project is expected to restore an area equivalent to 200 million hectares of degraded land.
Under the Saudi green initiative targets, the country aims to plant 10 billion trees on its territory, reduce carbon emissions by more than 4% of global contributions, raise protected areas to more than 30% of total land area, and put renewables at 50% of the Kingdom’s energy mix by 2030.
According to Saudi government estimates, due to climate challenges like desertification, the country faces huge risks, especially in economic aspects. The region loses $13 billion annually because of dust storms. Air pollution from greenhouse gases is also estimated to have shortened life expectancy in Saudi Arabia by 1.5 years.
PM Modi last visited Saudi Arabia in October of 2019, during which a Strategic Partnership Council Agreement was signed. Riyadh identifies India as one of the Kingdom’s Strategic Partner Countries under ‘Vision 2030’. The visit also saw the launch of the Rupay card, which especially benefits the large Indian expat community in the country.
Other leaders have also been invited to the Saudi Arabia climate summit, which includes Pakistan PM Imran Khan. Remember, Khan was not invited to the US climate summit even as Bangladesh and Bhutan from the region were present at the mega summit.
Earlier this year, PM Modi took part in the Climate Leaders’ virtual Summit chaired by President Biden. During that summit, PM Narendra Modi and President Joseph Biden launched the India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership. The two elements of the partnership are the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership and the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue. US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry has also visited Delhi.