Dr Okonjo-Iweala noted that trade was a key part in the global economy recovery and called for more support for micro, small and medium enterprises.
“Poor countries need access to bigger markets to grow rapidly,” she said. “With trade projected to grow at 10.8 percent this year, more than twice as fast as GDP, external demand will far outpace domestic demand for many countries, especially those on the wrong end of the k-shaped recovery.
“For Manufacturers, trade is also important because they need better access to imports as well as competitive logistics and other services critical to international competitiveness.
“Digital is very important here, especially for young Africans and the businesses they create; many businesses have been able to weather the pandemic because they were able to access the Internet and sell online.
“We should work harder, first to understand the barriers facing micro, medium and small enterprises in global trade and then to lower these barriers.
“At the WTO, different groups of members are seeking to do just that. One group is working on an e-commerce agreement. Another is working on empowering MSMEs to trade; and a third is working on lowering barriers facing women in global economic trade.”
Crowds protested into the night in Sudan Monday to denounce a military coup, with chaos engulfing the capital Khartoum after soldiers opened fire on demonstrators and reportedly killed three people.
Sudan’s top general declared a state of emergency and dissolved the government — one of several similar takeovers in Africa this year — sparking swift condemnation from the US, which suspended aid and urged that civilian government be restored.
The UN demanded the prime minister’s “immediate release” and diplomats in New York told AFP the Security Council was expected to meet to discuss the crisis on Tuesday.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s announcement came after the armed forces detained the civilian leaders who have been heading the transition to full civilian rule following the April 2019 overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
“To rectify the revolution’s course, we have decided to declare a state of emergency nationwide… dissolve the transitional sovereign council, and dissolve the cabinet,” said Burhan.
Clashes erupted in the capital Khartoum after his speech, with the information ministry saying that soldiers had “fired live bullets on protesters rejecting the military coup outside the army headquarters”.
Three protesters were killed and about 80 people wounded when soldiers opened fire, according to the independent Central Committee of Sudan Doctors.
“Civilian rule is the people’s choice,” chanted the demonstrators, who waved flags and used tyres to create burning barricades.
The violence outside the army headquarters came after soldiers detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, ministers in his government and civilian members of the ruling council, the information ministry said.
Internet services were cut across the country and roads into Khartoum shut, before soldiers stormed the headquarters of the state broadcaster in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, the ministry said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement the detention of the civilian leaders was “unlawful” and condemned “the ongoing military coup d’etat”.
The European Union, African Union and Arab League also expressed concern, while the United States, which has been a key supporter of Sudan’s transition, said it had suspended $700 million in aid.
“The civilian-led transitional government should be immediately restored,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price, adding that the US had not been able to contact the detained prime minister.
A 2019 power-sharing deal saw Sudan ruled by a Sovereign Council of civilian and military representatives tasked with overseeing a transition to a full civilian government.
But in recent weeks the cracks in the leadership had grown wide.
Hamdok had previously described splits in the transitional government as the “worst and most dangerous crisis” facing the transition.
Jonas Horner from the International Crisis Group think tank called it an “existential moment for both sides”.
“This kind of intervention… really puts autocracy back on the menu,” he said.
Bashir, who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for three decades, is in jail in Khartoum following a conviction for corruption.
He is wanted by the International Criminal Court to face charges of genocide over the civil war in Darfur.
But UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned Sudan risked returning to oppression.
“It would be disastrous if Sudan goes backwards after finally bringing an end to decades of repressive dictatorship,” Bachelet said.
‘Give our lives’
In recent days, two factions of the movement that spearheaded demonstrations against Bashir have protested on opposite sides of the debate — one group calling for military rule, the other for a full handover of power.
Tensions have long simmered within the movement, known as Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), but divisions ratcheted up after what the government said was a failed coup on September 21 this year.
One FFC leader warned of a “creeping coup” on the weekend at a news conference in Khartoum that was attacked by a mob.
On Monday, the mainstream FFC appealed for nationwide “civil disobedience”.
Protesters were seen marching through the streets of Khartoum carrying the Sudanese flag.
“We will not accept military rule, and we are ready to give our lives for the democratic transition in Sudan,” said one demonstrator, Haitham Mohamed.
“We will not leave the streets until the civilian government is back,” Sawsan Bashir, another protester, told AFP.
Under a state of emergency, police powers such as arresting and holding citizens are extended and constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and assembly are curtailed.
Egypt has for years been battling an Islamist insurgency. The attacks have been largely concentrated in the northern Sinai Peninsula, but occasionally struck elsewhere in the country.
Since February 2018, the authorities have been conducting a nationwide operation against Islamist militants, mainly focused on North Sinai and the country’s Western Desert, towards the border with Libya.
Rights groups say the state of emergency coupled with the government’s effective protest ban since 2013 has helped it in crushing dissent.
Tesla became the latest US tech giant to hit $1 trillion in market value Monday as investors cheered a large order from Hertz and shrugged off criticism from a US auto safety official.
Shares of Elon Musk’s company finished at $1,024.86, up 12.7 percent and topping $1 trillion for the first time.
“Wild $T1mes!” Musk said on Twitter.
The surge followed an announcement from rental car giant Hertz of an order to buy 100,000 autos from Tesla by the end of 2022 in the latest embrace of electric car technology by a mainstream auto player.
The Hertz announcement came on the heels of strong Tesla earnings last week that illustrated the company’s resilience in spite of a semiconductor shortage that has weighed more heavily on other automakers.
Leading analysts at Morgan Stanley upped their target on Tesla to $1,200 from $894, pointing to the company’s “extraordinary” revenue in the last quarter despite supply chain problems.
The Morgan Stanley note predicted Tesla over the next 12 to 18 months will “demonstrate the capabilities of the Trillion dollar Tesla,” as it ramps up production and expands its capacity, model offerings and service offerings.
Safety board criticism
Monday’s rally overlooked a letter from the National Transportation Safety Board castigating Musk for not implementing key recommendations to safeguard the automaker’s driver assistance programs.
In a September 2017 report on a fatal incident a year earlier in Florida, the NTSB concluded that Tesla’s driver assistance system was prone to being employed on roads for which it was not designed. Tesla’s program also failed to detect signs the driver was disengaged.
The agency urged Tesla to incorporate safeguards to limit the system to areas for which it was intended and to alert the driver when he or she became disengaged.
The other five automakers that received the NTSB’s recommendations responded and outlined the steps they were taking.
“Tesla is the only manufacturer that did not officially respond to us about the recommendations,” wrote NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy.
Homendy described a second fatal crash in California in 2018 that also took place in a roadway not meant for the driver assistance system and with an operator who was disengaged.
“Our crash investigations involving your company’s vehicles have clearly shown the potential for misuse requires a system design change to ensure safety,” Homendy said.
But investors gave more weight to the announcement from Hertz.
The car rental giant, which emerged from a bankruptcy reorganization earlier this year, said the electric vehicles (EV) would be available “in US major markets and select cities in Europe” beginning in early November, according to a press release.
“Electric vehicles are now mainstream, and we’ve only just begun to see rising global demand and interest,” said interim Hertz Chief Executive Mark Fields.
The deal with Hertz is “a huge win” for Tesla, Briefing.com said on its website.
“Beyond the windfall from the order itself, the availability of 100,000 new Model 3s on Hertz’ lots is like a direct marketing campaign for Tesla,” Briefing said.
“After being introduced to Tesla for the first time, some of those Hertz customers may ultimately turn into Tesla customers. Additionally, the deal represents another milestone in the broader adoption of EVs, while also opening up an entirely new market for Tesla.”
He said in a statement that two people had died, but the police later tweeted a correction, saying that one person had been killed.
Enanga said several people had been injured and they were being evacuated from the area.
“The scene has been cordoned off pending a thorough assessment and investigation by the bomb experts,” he said.
Enanga gave no more detail on the suspected causes of the explosion.
Museveni suggested earlier that the fatality could have been a person handling a bomb.
“The Police are investigating whether the person blown up was the one carrying the bomb or not,” the president tweeted.
“Preliminary reports say that the blast was from the seat and it killed only that person and injured the one who was sitting behind,” he said.
“The remaining 37 other passengers were safe plus the driver,” Museveni said.
Lungala is about 35 kilometres (22 miles) west of Kampala, on one of the country’s busiest roads linking Uganda with Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Investigators said a 20-year-old woman was killed and three others injured in Saturday evening’s explosion at a popular roadside eatery.
The police said it was an explosive device containing nails and pieces of metal, covered by a plastic bag.
Police said the crude bomb left underneath a table indicated the work of an unsophisticated local outfit, and played down any connection to foreign networks.
However, in a message sent via its communication channels, the Islamic State’s Central Africa Province said it carried out the attack, and claimed it killed two people and injured five.
“A security detachment from the soldiers of the Caliphate was able to detonate an explosive device inside a tavern in which elements and spies for the Crusader Ugandan army were gathered,” read part of the statement quoted by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant communications.
On October 8, IS claimed its first attack in Uganda, alleging a unit from the same Central Africa operation bombed a police post in Kampala that resulted in injuries.
No explosion or any injuries were reported by authorities or local media at the time, though police later confirmed a minor incident had occurred without providing further details.
However in the following days, both Britain and France updated their travel advice, saying terrorists were “very likely to try and carry out attacks in Uganda” and urging vigilance in crowded areas.
In 2010, twin bombings in Kampala targeting fans watching the World Cup final left 76 people dead.
Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for the blasts at a restaurant and at a rugby club.
The attack, the first outside Somalia by Al-Shabaab, was seen as revenge for Uganda sending troops to the war-torn country as part of an African Union mission to confront the insurgents.
Museveni on Sunday vowed that those responsible for the attack the previous evening would be caught and expressed condolences to those killed and injured.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rowed back on Monday from his threat to expel 10 Western envoys over their joint statement of support for a jailed civil society leader.
The reversal came after the United States and several of the other concerned countries issued identical statements saying they respected a UN convention that required diplomats not to interfere in the host country’s domestic affairs.
Erdogan met his ultra-nationalist ruling coalition partner and then chaired an hours-long cabinet meeting at which his ministers reportedly advised him about the economic dangers of escalating tensions with some of Turkey’s closest allies and trading partners.
He concluded the meeting by victoriously announcing in televised comments that the 10 ambassadors had learnt their lesson and “will be more careful now”.
The new Western statement “shows they have taken a step back from the slander against our country”, Erdogan said.
The lira recovered from a historic low against the dollar on relief that Turkey and the West had stepped back from the brink of the most serious diplomatic crisis of Erdogan’s 19-year rule.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price later told reporters that Washington intended to “continue to promote the rule of law and respect for human rights” while working with Turkey on “many issues of mutual interest”.
Erdogan had originally threatened the ambassadors on Thursday and then doubled down — pronouncing the 10 envoys “persona non grata” — in televised comments on Saturday.
Diplomats said the expulsions would have been unprecedented in relations between fellow NATO member states.
The diplomatic standoff began when the 10 embassies — including those of Germany and France — issued an unusual statement last Monday calling for the “just and speedy” resolution of the legal case against jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala.
The 64-year-old civil society leader and businessman has been in jail without a conviction for four years.
Supporters view Kavala as an innocent symbol of Erdogan’s growing intolerance of political dissent since surviving a failed military putsch in 2016.
But Erdogan accuses Kavala of financing a wave of 2013 anti-government protests and then playing a role in the coup attempt.
Kavala’s case could prompt the Council of Europe human rights watchdog to launch its first disciplinary hearings against Turkey at a four-day meeting ending on December 2.
The ambassadors said Kavala’s case “cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency in the Turkish judiciary system”.
Yet analysts pointed out that several European powers — including fellow NATO member Britain — refrained from joining the Western call for Kavala’s release.
“The conspicuous absence of the UK, Spain, and Italy… is telling, pointing at the emergence of a sub-group within the Western family of nations adept at skipping confrontation with Ankara,” political analyst Soner Cagaptay wrote.
Erdogan’s rule as prime minister and president has been punctuated by a series of crises and then rapprochements with the West.
The Turkish leader has spent much of the past year trying to mend relations with Arab world rivals and long-standing European competitors such as Greece.
But analysts said Erdogan has been disappointed by his attempts to win over US President Joe Biden — an outspoken critic of Ankara’s rights record who refused to grant the Turkish leader a personal meeting on the sidelines of a UN summit last month.
Erdogan appeared to reverse course this month by threatening to launch a new military campaign in Syria and then orchestrating changes at the central bank that infuriated investors and saw the lira accelerate its record slide.
Turkey’s financial problems have been accompanied by an unusual spike in dissent from the country’s business community.
Main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused Erdogan of trying to create an artificial diplomatic crisis that he could then blame for Turkey’s economic woes heading into a general election due by June 2023.
“We are very much standing with the people of Sudan. The people of Sudan have made clear their aspirations for the continuation of transition to democracy and we will continue to support that including, if needed, by holding accountable those responsible for these anti-democratic actions.”
Price said that the United States received no prior knowledge of the military’s intention to oust Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and has not been able to make contact with the detained civilian leader.
President Muhammadu Buhari launched Nigeria’s digital currency at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday.
The digital currency was billed to be unveiled on October 1 but was shifted due to other activities slated for the Independence Day celebration.
In announcing the launch of the e-Naira, the CBN stated that the product, which was put together following many years of research, will advance the boundaries of payments system in order to make financial transactions easier.
The apex bank further said that the launch of the digital currency is a major step forward in the evolution of money and vowed to ensure that the e-Naira, like the physical Naira, is accessible by everyone.
Here are six things we all need to know about the e-Naira:
According to the CBN, the e-Naira is not just another CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency); the platform is said to be a people-oriented digital currency leveraging technology to connect individuals and businesses for easy trading and financial inclusion. The apex bank said it pushed the boundaries, bridged gaps, and told actual humane stories in the process of making the platform. “We are the foremost audience-centric digital currency brandishing a face,” the CBN noted on the e-Naira official website.
Built with current realities
In further explaining how the e-Naira was built, the CBN notes that from conception, the e-Naira has followed a careful thought and implementation process, beginning with understanding current realities in Nigeria’s evolving payment landscape, working with clear objectives and principles built from those realities, meticulously laying out the aspects of the architecture and infrastructure and keeping note of real-time risk management protocols.
Issues regarding cashless policy, National Financial Inclusion strategy, Bank Verification number, Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility, License categorization for the Payment System and Establishment of NIBSS Payment Infrastructure, were all put into consideration.
The e-Naira is expected to foster economic growth by offering easier access to capital and financial services which will increase economic activities at low/no interest transaction rate.
It is also expected to provide secure and cheaper diaspora remittance option and make such transactions faster.
Due to its traceability, the e-Naira makes it more difficult for individuals or organizations to indulge in fraud.
While the impossibility of being forged, makes it very strong and reliable, the e-Naira provides financial inclusion by making financial services available to communities without enough banking opportunities.
Local and international trade are expected to be increased with the emergence of the e-Naira, and the nation’s digital currency is expected to aid revenue collection by reducing the cost of handling cash.
Exceptional digital experience
With the e-Naira, diaspora payments are expected to become cheaper and safer as to ensure individuals get more value for every Naira they earn. As regards local payments, people can boycott the queues and pay taxes, and bills from the comfort of their home in an easier and dependable fashion.
Also with the e-Naira, the CBN assures that financial government aids will get straight to the people, as it knocks the middle men out the way and individuals can claim funds directly.
An extra benefit attached is the secure banking which the e-Naira promises. Those worried about the safety and security of banking details can be rest assured that the transparency makes everything traceable.
Beyond faster and better transactions, the CBN promises that the eNaira makes it possible to send funds, save money, and save time while at it.
More for Individuals, Businesses
Going through the features, one notices that there are specific solutions that are all-encompassing for individuals and organizations. It offers local and international Non-Governmental Organizations and Religious Institutions money transaction solutions that ensures that, at the end of the day, their focus is trained more on carrying out their projects than on the security and usage of the money backing each project.
While everyone can donate every time, the e-Naira is expected to make expense-tracking and report-development for social projects for NGOs, nearly automated. This is as the traceability of each eNaira ensures that balancing ledgers and knowing the exact identity of the recipient of each eNaira occurs at near-real time and in tandem with the very transfer of funds itself.
For business owners, eNaira payment options are expected to help keep customers coming back as they pay for services with such ease. Also with eNaira, the customer base spreads beyond the shores of Nigeria because overseas payment is not just possible but fast and even cheap. According to the CBN, “the more the patronage, the more profit!”.
Furthermore, eNaira makes it easier for business owners to get support allowance from the government because the CBN has their wallet information and can make direct deposits on behalf of the government.
Government is also expected to experience an increase in revenue and this according to the apex bank is due to the fact that through reduction in cash handling costs and more transparent taxing systems, eNaira makes more funds available for development projects such as better feeder roads, affordable education, and more equipped health facilities.
It is projected that spending eNaira will make for a richer Government and a richer people.
Unified Payment System
Customers can move money from their bank account to their eNaira wallet with ease. They can also make in-store payment using their eNaira wallet by scanning QR codes.
Individuals can monitor their eNaira wallet, check balances and view transaction history with ease and the platform allows users to send money to one another through a linked bank account or card.
The cost for sending and receiving money faster, easily, will come at a very minimal costs, the CBN promises. There is always a transaction history and as such, customers can verify their payments anytime and anywhere.
On the eNaira official pages, the CBN stated that intra/inter financial institutions transactions are not only possible, they are faster and cheaper. In addition to this, customers can enjoy speedy transactions across boundaries and a hitch-free foreign exchange.
In conclusion, the eNaira serves as both a medium of exchange and a store of value, offering “better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments”. It also has an exclusive operational structure that is “both remarkable and nothing like other forms of central bank money,” CBN notes in its official page.
According to the CBN, the objective is to see eNaira enable households and businesses to make fast, efficient, and reliable payments, while benefiting from a resilient, innovative, inclusive, and competitive payment system.
President Muhammadu Buhari has said Nigeria’s new digital currency, eNaira, will increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product by $29 billion over the next 10 years.
The President said this on Monday at the unveiling of eNaira at the State House.
According to the President, the launch of eNaira makes Nigeria the first country in Africa and one of the first few countries globally to introduce a digital currency.
The new payment system, which took the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) four years to roll out, is expected to drive financial inclusion, serve as a backbone for electronic payment in Nigeria and also enable the movement of more people from the informal to the formal sector, hence scaling up the tax base of the country.
President Buhari also expects it to enable the government send direct payments to citizens eligible for specific welfare programmes as well as foster cross-border trade, a statement signed by presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina said.
”Let me note that aside from the global trend to create Digital Currencies, we believe that there are Nigeria-specific benefits that cut across different sectors of, and concerns of the economy,” the President noted.
”The use of CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) can help move many more people and businesses from the informal into the formal sector, thereby increasing the tax base of the country.”
The President also commended the Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, his deputies and the entire team of staff who worked tirelessly to make the launch of Africa’s first digital currency a reality.
”Work intensified over the past several months with several brainstorming exercises, deployment of technical partners and advisers, collaboration with the Ministries of Communication and Digital Economy and its sister agencies like the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), integration of banking software across the country and painstaking tests to ensure the robustness, safety and scalability of the CBDC System, ” he said.
The President also used the occasion of the unveiling of the eNaira to explain why he approved the use of the digital currency.
“In recent times, the use of physical cash in conducting business and making payments has been on the decline. This trend has been exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of a new Digital Economy,” he said.
”Alongside these developments, businesses, households, and other economic agents have sought for new means of making payments in the new circumstances.
”The absence of a swift and effective solution to these requirements, as well as fears that Central Banks’ actions sometimes lead to hyperinflation created the space for non-government entities to establish new forms of ‘private currencies’ that seemed to have gained popularity and acceptance across the world, including here in Nigeria.
“In response to these developments, an overwhelming majority of Central Banks across the world have started to consider issuing digital currencies in order to cater for businesses and households seeking faster, safer, easier and cheaper means of payments.
”A handful of countries including China, Bahamas, and Cambodia have already issued their own CBDCs.
”A 2021 survey of Central Banks around the world by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) found that almost 90 per cent are actively researching the potential for CBDCs, 60 percent were experimenting with the technology and 14 per cent were deploying pilot projects.
”Needless to add, close monitoring and close supervision will be necessary in the early stages of implementation to study the effect of eNaira on the economy as a whole.
”It is on the basis of this that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sought and received my approval to explore issuing Nigeria’s own Central Bank Digital Currency, named the eNaira.”
First Bank of Nigeria’s parent company, FBN Holdings Plc, say billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, has acquired a substantial stake in its business.
According to a notice signed by company secretary, Seye Kosoko, Otedola’s stake in FBN Holdings now stands at 5.07 percent.
“We refer to our communication to the market dated October 22, 2021 on the above subject wherein we stated that we would inform the public of any substantial acquisition, upon receipt of notification from the Shareholder,” the notice said.
“This morning, October 23, 2021, FBN Holdings Plc received a notification from APT Securities and Funds Limited, that their Client, Mr. Otedola Olufemi Peter and his nominee, Calvados Global Services Limited have acquired a total of 1,818,551,625 units of shares from the Company’s issued share capital of 35,895,292,791.
“Based on the foregoing, the equity stake of Mr. Otedola Olufemi Peter and his nominee in the Company is now 5.07%.”
The Sokoto State Government on Saturday said it has asked the Federal Government to suspend its telecoms blockade on 14 local government areas of the state.
The blockade had been imposed in September as part of efforts to clampdown on bandits operating in the North-West.
A similar blockade is in effect in parts of Zamfara and Kaduna states.
But after “an enlarged security council meeting on the fallout of bandits attack on Goronyo market which claimed the lives of 43 people last week”, the Sokoto State Government said it was necessary to review the blockade.
“According to Gov. (Aminu) Tambuwal, the call for the rescinding of the blockade became necessary in view of concerns expressed by security outfits in the state that the outage was affecting the smooth conduct of their works,” a statement signed by Tambuwal’s spokesperson, Muhammad Bello, said.
“He said the state government has already forwarded a letter to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy to review the internet blockade.”
The statement said Tambuwal disclosed the state’s decision when he received, on Saturday, the North-East Governors Forum (NEGF) represented by Governors of Borno and Gombe state, Prof. Babagana Aymara Zulum and Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya respectively.
The North-East Governors were paying a condolence visit to the state over the recent bandit attacks in the state.
“I am pleased to launch initiatives in the energy sector that will reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes annually by 2030, thus voluntarily more than doubling the target announced,” Prince Mohammed said.
“We also announce the kingdom’s accession to the Global Methane Pledge.”
A statement said Saudi Arabia would “contribute to cutting global methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030, as part of its commitment to deliver a cleaner, greener future”.
The 2060 target would “enable us to have a smooth and viable transition, without risking economic or social impacts”, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said.
COP26 President Alok Sharma welcomed the announcement.
“I hope this landmark announcement… will galvanise ambition from others ahead of #COP26,” Sharma tweeted, adding he was looking forward to seeing more details on the Saudi plan.
Aramco 2050 target
Shortly after, energy giant Saudi Aramco said it committed to being a net zero enterprise by 2050.
“Saudi Aramco will achieve an ambition of being also a net zero from our operation by 2050,” Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser said at the forum.
“We understand that the road will be complex, the transition will have its challenges, but we are confident we can meet them and accelerate our efforts to a low emission future.”
Saudi Arabia is estimated to emit about 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year — more than France and slightly less than Germany.
The year 2050 has become a focus for carbon neutrality, defined as achieving a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere.
As COP26 approaches, a string of countries have pledged to aim for net zero emissions by 2050, and global airlines and banks are also targeting the mid-century goal.
UN chief Antonio Guterres said Friday the current climate situation was “a one-way ticket for disaster”, stressing the need to “avoid a failure” at COP26 in Glasgow.
Held between October 31 and November 12, the gathering is seen as a crucial step in setting worldwide emission targets to slow global warming.
In March, Saudi Arabia unveiled a campaign to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions, including a plan to plant billions of trees in the coming decades.
The OPEC kingpin aims to reduce emissions by generating half of its energy from renewables by 2030, Prince Mohammed said at the time.
The prince announced on Saturday that the first phase would include planting more than 450 million trees and the rehabilitation of eight million hectares (nearly 20 million acres) of degraded land.
Saudi Arabia also said it would designate new “protected areas”.
The move brings “the total protected areas in the kingdom to more than 30 percent of its total area”, Prince Mohammed said, adding the first set of green initiatives would cost more than 700 billion riyals ($186.6 billion).
Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, said the land conservation move was critical.
“We want to diversify our economy. Hospitality and tourism are key to that, but so is preserving our environment,” she said at the forum.
Saudi Arabia currently draws on oil and natural gas to both meet its own fast-growing power demand and desalinate its water — which consumes huge quantities of oil.
The initiatives come as energy giant Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s cash cow, faces scrutiny from investors over its emissions.
In January, Bloomberg News reported that Aramco excluded emissions generated from many of its refineries and petrochemical plants in its overall carbon disclosures to investors.
It added that if those facilities are included, the company’s self-reported carbon footprint could nearly double, adding as much as 55 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to its annual tally –- roughly the emissions produced by Portugal.