Saudi Arabia Seeks to Join International Renewable Energy Group IRENA

saudi arabia irenaWill Saudi Arabia’s IRENA Membership Help Influence  Environmental Change?

Saudi Arabia, a country which still contains much of the world’s remaining petroleum reserves, is now trying to put its environmental “money where its mouth is” by joining the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). In an article posted on January 17 in the UAE’s “The National” English news site, Saudi Arabia has expressed interest to join the multinational clean energy organization, headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Sultan al Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s clean-energy firm, said IRENA, as the energy agency is known, had received “official notification from Saudi Arabia to become a signatory state.” 

During the IRENA meeting, which preceded the opening of the 2010 World Future Energy  Summit, also held in Abu Dhabi,  Dr al Jaber said that he hopes that he will receive official word from Saudi Arabia that it will agree to become a member of IRENA within the next three weeks.

The one day meeting was attended by heads of state, prime ministers and energy ministers and 1,400 chief executives from 138 countries, including those from Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Israel, whose delegation visited the Emirate for the first time. As a leading member of OPEC, the world’s most powerful and influential oil exporting cartel, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can be an important element in this international oil exporting organization to make its members (and itself at the same time) more aware of the problems of global warming and climate change – much of it said to be the result of over-use of fossil fuels.

The cooperation of a country which has made all of its wealth from oil and natural gas production could have a great effect on countries around the world in  cooperating more with each other to solve the world’s environmental problems; according to both Dr. al Jaber and Ms. Helene Pelosse, IRENA’s interim director.

As noted by Ms. Pelosse:

“It is sending out a strong message that we cannot rely on energy of the past to power the future. We know that within 40 years there will be no more oil. The idea is to cooperate toward finding more renewable energy solutions.”

The Kingdom, has recently embarked on a number of environmental projects of its own, including  involvement in a Seven Year Plan designed to make the annual Hajj Pilgrimage and the entire Muslim World more “green.”

It also is hosting the first Gulf Environmental Forum, to be held in Jeddah on March 7-9 The Kingdom has much to do however, to put its own environmental house in order, and has some serious infrastructure problems, including those involving sewage and waste disposal.  An example of  this occurred last November when a number of people in Jeddah were killed by sewage flooding during some heavy rain storms.

Still, the fact the Saudi Arabia is now interested in becoming involved in an organization like IRENA gives hope that it will use its influence in OPEC, as well as its own money, to help find solutions to the world’s environmental problems, as well as energy needs, by  “having to adopt a new approach to energy, which is going to be about an energy mix,” as noted by Dr. al Jaber.

Dr. al Jaber was also referring to the use of nuclear energy, which Abu Dhabi is seriously exploring. He added that nuclear energy will play a significant energy  role “for some time” until renewable energy can supply the world’s energy requirements on the level that fossil fuel and nuclear energy does today. We can only hope that nuclear energy, also being considered by Saudi Arabia, will be for peaceful purposes only.

Browse articles on Saudi Environmental issues:
Is Saudi Arabia Running Out of Sand?
Flooding by Sewage in Jeddah Causes a Scandal in the Kingdom
Greening Hajj and Madinah For the Muslim World

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