News Saudi Arabia unveils Green Finance Framework in sustainability push

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is emerging as a proactive leader, pioneering green initiatives to mitigate economic challenges posed by the transformation toward sustainability, according to the International Monetary Fund.

A recent report by the IMF highlighted the intricate dynamics at play and underscored the Gulf Cooperation Council and Saudi Arabia’s strategic positioning in this evolving scenario.

Titled “Key Challenges Faced by Fossil Fuel Exporters during the Energy Transition,” the study discussed climate change mitigation efforts in many fossil fuel exporting countries.

As Saudi Arabia and its GCC counterparts continue to lead the charge toward sustainability, they set a precedent for the global community.

By embracing green initiatives, investing in renewable energy, and fostering economic diversification, these nations are paving the way for a sustainable future, balancing economic prosperity with environmental responsibility.

The report emphasized that the Saudi Green Initiative launched in 2021 aimed at combating climate change and reducing carbon emissions.

It explained: “The Green Initiative is centered around three objectives, including targets for increasing the share of renewable energy in electricity generation up to 50 percent by 2030 and the deployment of circular carbon economy technologies, including carbon capture utilization and storage.”

Key challenges

The IMF stressed the need for economic diversification to effectively mitigate the impact of declining fossil fuel revenues.

Highlighting Saudi Arabia’s progress in economic diversification, the report explained: “The non-oil sector growth has accelerated since 2021, reaching 4.8 percent in 2022 spurred by strong domestic demand, especially in the wholesale, retail trade, construction, and transport sectors.”

Similarly, Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE are diversifying their economies away from hydrocarbons, the study added.

In the UAE, non-hydrocarbon GDP was expected to grow by 5.3 percent in 2022, driven by tourism and FIFA World Cup impacts.

Progress on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements will further boost trade, attract foreign direct investment, and enhance integration with global value chains, according to the report.

The IMF highlighted that in Saudi Arabia, “the share of high-skilled jobs has increased to more than 40 percent in 2022, and female labor force participation doubled in four years to reach 37 percent in 2022.”

In its report, the Washington-based lender said the governments heavily reliant on revenues from fossil fuel exports face challenges in maintaining fiscal sustainability as these revenues decline.

“Countries with significant exposure to the fossil fuel industry may experience higher financial sector risks, including balance sheet effects, asset devaluation, and increased vulnerability to international market fluctuations,” it said.

The report added that transitioning away from fossil fuels may result in job losses in the fossil fuel industry, necessitating retraining programs and support for affected workers.

It called for structural reforms to address all the issues. “Accelerating structural reforms to diversify export bases and develop alternative industries is critical for mitigating the adverse macroeconomic effects of the energy transition,”the report said.

The IMF stressed the need for coordinated global efforts to overcome all these challenges. “Collaborative efforts can help ensure a smooth transition, mitigate transition costs, and support affected countries in diversifying their economies,” the report said.

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