(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia has outlined its many efforts in addressing the challenge of climate change at the ongoing UN conference in the Qatari capital Doha.
"We have been talking about the urgent need to address climate change for many years. And now the sustainable development model that we have followed since 1992 gives us a real opportunity to tackle this challenge," said Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi.
Delivering the opening address at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP18) on Wednesday, he said: "We believe that all people, and all government, share this responsibility and each and every one of us has a role to play, taking into account the need for developed countries to take the lead in this regard, based on their historical responsibility."
According to him, the big challenge is how to make a difference without harming prospects for sustainable growth and prosperity, particularly in developing economies.
"Saudi Arabia believes that advanced technology will provide the answer to these challenges, as it has done for mankind throughout history," he said. "But this will require greater innovation, further collaboration and increased investment."
Saudi Arabia is striving hard to diversify its economy away from its over-reliance on hydrocarbons. "We are making major investments in infrastructure development throughout the Kingdom to raise the resilience of our economy," said Al-Naimi.
He pointed out that Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in solar technology and technology for carbon capture, utilization and storage. "We are now in the process of developing the appropriate framework for this investment; we have put ambitious goals for increasing energy efficiency," he said.
Saudi Arabia's efforts in research and technology development are gaining momentum through the piloting of capture technologies from stationary and mobile carbon sources.
"In addition, creative solutions are being pursued to generate value out of captured carbon and develop cleaner and more efficient petroleum fuels for transportation," he said.
According to Al-Naimi, the Kingdom has placed great emphasis on educating the younger generation about complementary sources of energy, stressing that it is in Saudi Arabia's fundamental, long-term economic interest.
"Saudi Arabia is working with our GCC partners into transferring these efforts as contributions under the convention ... We are discussing with other parties informally on how we can package these efforts under a window that would take into account the nature of our program for economic diversification that currently relies on a limited sector of development," he said.
The Qatar conference, he said, is a unique opportunity to strengthen the implementation of the Convention and its Protocol, as well as set the foundation for the future enhancement of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
"On behalf of Custodian of the Holy Mosques King Abdullah, it is an honor for me to stand before you in this historic moment when the meeting is held in the GCC region for the first time," said Al-Naimi.
"The government of Saudi Arabia would like to thank the Qatari government for its great effort in preparation for this conference, which created the opportunity to achieve success and positive decisions for the benefit of all mankind."
Later in the day, Al-Naimi toured the Saudi pavilion at the Qatar Sustainability Expo. The Saudi pavilion also received ministers, senior government officials, diplomats and prominent business leaders.
Mohamed bin Saleh Al-Sada, Qatar's minister of energy and industry and chairman and managing director of Qatar Petroleum, was warmly received at the Saudi pavilion and was taken on a tour and briefed on various Saudi projects and initiatives by Saudi Aramco President and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih.