Written by Staff Writer
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says his country will start reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in earnest in 2020.
Speaking to British Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit to London on Wednesday, MBS said the Kingdom would follow a “plan for a credible plan” to curb emissions by developing renewable technologies and improving fuel efficiency.
The Saudi prince also affirmed plans to develop what he called “a coherent strategy” for a future energy mix, alluding to controversial plans for a nuclear plant, should private-sector operators be approved.
The Kingdom was granted at least a temporary reprieve on Sunday when the White House announced a new policy meant to ease the transition to renewable energy. The White House had approved the General Electric-built NEU2 nuclear power plant in southern Saudi Arabia — a project that had faced opposition from Saudi clerics and citizens worried about weapons proliferation — giving the site conditional permission to operate until 2047.
The new step came after a Trump administration directive that allowed the use of nuclear energy to help relieve the world’s fossil fuel use “without sparking conflict, while also improving energy security and supporting economic growth.”
Ahead of the announcement, Saudi Arabia had estimated that the scheme would pump more than a trillion dollars into the Saudi economy, according to the Financial Times.
On Wednesday, Downing Street confirmed that the U.K. government would form part of a development group for Saudi Arabia’s plan.
“The UK is a leading investor in the country and our relationship is a key part of our bilateral relations,” May said in a statement. “I have urged Saudi leaders to focus on securing all the important aspects of this deal as quickly as possible.”
The Crown Prince’s visit to London is the largest ever by a member of the Saudi royal family and follows his diplomatic and economic overtures to London.
On March 23, Britain welcomed Prince Mohammed and his delegation of ministers as they signed agreements worth more than $16 billion. This year alone, the Kingdom is expected to invest more than $33 billion in Britain — of which over $10 billion has already been made in the previous 12 months, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said at the time.
Also on Wednesday, Prince Mohammed met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to boost the progress of Saudi-Israeli relations, which have been in talks for three decades but whose trajectory became more hopeful since the militant cleric and extremist preacher Saudi Arabia views as a threat, Abdulaziz Al-Munajjed, the president of the Jeddah-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, told CNN.
To further that goal, the Crown Prince signed a bilateral treaty that specified the 1967 border between the two countries as the basis for bilateral relations.
Prince Mohammed also met the British Trade Secretary Liam Fox, as well as the Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, the Crown Prince said in a statement following his London visit.
The meeting with the Palestinian leader — widely viewed in the Palestinian Territories as a diplomatic victory for the Crown Prince — happened as the European Union began to weigh a referral of Israeli settlements to the International Criminal Court.
The outcome of any potential court referral would depend on what Palestine ends up doing on the issue of their future borders, Al-Munajjed said.
Saudi Arabia maintains an international law policy known as Law of Nations, which rules that national laws should not supersede international law.
“The Crown Prince has reaffirmed the Kingdom’s determination to respect international law and to lift any restrictions on peaceful activities in the name of the Palestinian people,” Al-Munajjed said.
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