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Middle East Green Initiative Summit: Recap on the live coverage from Riyadh

World leaders have gathered in Riyadh to discuss climate issues ahead of Cop26

Watch live as world leaders attend the Middle East Green Initiative in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia is hosting the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) Summit in Riyadh today (25 October).

The Summit is an extension of the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Forum and the ancillary event, Youth Green Summit, both addressing Saudi Arabia’s climate pledges as well as the initiatives that will shape the country’s sustainable future.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched SGI Forum on 23 October by doubling the targets set for reducing carbon emissions, as well as setting out goals for increasing protected areas in Saudi Arabia to 30 per cent and planting 10 billion trees.

As part of the MGI Summit, the crown prince will be building on the pledges and discussions that have taken place in the previous two days by welcoming contributions from heads of state from around the world.

The Independent is reporting live from Riyadh.

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Speaking on behalf of the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Kt, Minister for Investment jointly at the Department for International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

He said: “There is now a chance for a new chapter in the great history of your region. A decade ago such a meeting on climate change and the commitments you are all making would have been unthinkable. It shows the huge amount of progress that has been made in a short amount of time.

“However, we must go further and faster if we are to limit the increase in global temperature and take the necessary action to protect people and nature from the effect of climate change.”

Watch the speech here

Meeting on climate change a decade ago ‘unthinkable’, says UK representative
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Manlio Di Stefano, Italy’s Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, who is responsible for business, energy and exports, agreed with other leaders that urgent action was needed.

He added: “Public finance initiatives, as well as private capital, can accelerate the ecological transition by fostering new energy sources and increasing opportunities for skilled employment.

“Almost €70bn have been allocated to ecological transition in Italy’s national recovery plan, chasing climate neutrality by 2050.

“We need to capitalise on this current economic recovery phase post-Covid to create opportunities for growth, innovation and competitive economies”

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Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, said in an address to the delegates: “Taking care of the environment is no longer merely a scientific effort – it is a necessity and we must exert all of our efforts to achieve sustainable development.”

Echoing other leaders from the region, Dr Ahmad Al-Othaimeen said that modern technologies are desperately needed to address climate challenges.

He added: “We must take a multi-sector approach to face environmental challenges.”

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After hearing from heads of state, delegates at the MGI Summit are now hearing from experts in finance about the future of green financing and how this can help governments and businesses achieve climate goals.

First to speak is Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of US-based investment firm BlackRock, who said we will need a revolution to meet climate challenges.

He added: “It is my belief that the next 1,000 unicorns, companies that have a market evaluation of over a billion dollars, won’t be a search engine; won’t be a media company.

“They’ll be businesses developing green hydrogen, green agriculture, green steel, green cement.”

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In an earlier address to delegates, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said climate change is one of humanity’s “biggest crises”.

He added: “This crisis was quite visible 20 years ago, but somehow we were all in self-denial. No one thought that this would actually happen, that the temperature was getting warmer. No one believed there would be effects of this.”

Read the full story here:

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Also offering insights from the business perspective are Noel Quinn, group chief executive of HSBC in the UK, and André Esteves, senior partner at BTG Pactual, a Brazilian financial services company.

Quinn has led the charge to reduce carbon emissions in the financial sector. As well as having pledged to bring HSBC’s finance portfolio to net zero by 2050, he’s established a dedicated Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Solutions Unit to help the bank assess its climate contributions.

And Esteves, whose work spans the business and environment worlds, is known for supporting biodiversity efforts across Brazil, including the​ Amazonia Live project to plant one million trees in the country.

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In the third and final part of the MGI Summit, delegates are hearing from Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary of the United Nations and chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.

She urged the heads of state at the Summit to do more.

Ms Mohammed said: “I humbly suggest that we dig deep and transition from brown to green with a sense of urgency – and fewer shades of brown”

She added: “In our fight against climate change, failure is a choice – just as climate change was a man-made choice, not a certainty.”

The deputy secretary recently led the process to establish the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Last to speak is John Kerry, the first United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate under President Joe Biden.

Previously the US Secretary of State, Kerry has long pushed for ambitious climate targets to keep the world in line with the Paris Agreement’s commitments.

Speaking to delegates, he said that even if all of the countries had kept their promise under the Paris Agreement, it would still not be enough.

He added: “This is something that’s going to happen because it has to happen. And the only question to all of us is not whether or not we’ll get to a low carbon/no carbon economy globally – we will one day.

“The issue is whether we’ll get there fast enough to avoid the worst consequences.”

John Kerry also stressed that fighting climate change isn’t achievable through governments alone.

He said: “No government in the world has the money to get this done. This will only happen through governments joining with the private sector and with the private sector significantly stepping up and taking the lead here.”

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman concluded the MGI Summit by admitting that there is still a lot to be done in the Middle East.

He said that it’s one of the reasons why all of the countries have set out clear objectives and will work together to tackle them.

The Crown Prince also promised that the leaders will meet regularly to follow up on the progress of those objectives.

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The MGI Summit has now concluded.

Watch the event below and catch up on all of the announcements and discussions from the SGI Forum, Youth Green Summit, and MGI Summit on The Independent’s SGI hub.

Watch live as world leaders attend the Middle East Green Initiative in Riyadh

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