DUBAI: Climate change is the big long-term issue of the post-pandemic world, and this weekend we will all be better placed to judge the global state of play when US President Joe Biden convenes the Leaders’ Summit on Climate he promised soon after moving into the White House.
Some 40 leaders have been invited to take part in the two-day event, including King Salman. In a demonstration of the importance Biden puts on the issue, and the impact of summitry drama, the event will be available for global public consumption via livestream.
The aim of the summit is for global leaders to update each other on their progress toward the goals of the Paris Agreements on climate change mitigation ahead of the COP26 (26th UN conference of the parties) meeting in November, when the targets can be adjusted according to the needs of the planet.
Most climate experts accept that there is an urgent need to accelerate the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In Paris, all the nations of the world agreed to reduce emissions, however pollution levels have continued to increase over the past five years.
Even the massive hit to the global economy and transport last year due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused only a blip in the rising curve, which is expected to climb sharply upwards this year and next as economic recovery accelerates.
The question — both for the Biden summit and COP26 — is what can be done about it, and this is where Saudi Arabia has a unique contribution to make.
The Kingdom, of course, is the biggest exporter of hydrocarbons in the world, and sits on huge reserves of oil and gas. Its resources have fueled economic development at home and around the globe for decades.
Some people do not appreciate this. The eco-warriors of Europe and North America appear to want nothing at all to do with the most powerful and efficient fuel in history and would like to scrap all further investment in hydrocarbons as a prelude to some green utopia where the streets are crammed with Teslas and all business is conducted via Zoom.