“Climate change and the unjustified consumption of energy are two of the most serious issues we face today at the macro-level.”
These words were spoken by Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed in December 2015 at a business forum in a five-star hotel in Riyadh, the bustling capital of Saudi Arabia. At the time, his call for restraint in consideration of Earth’s climate might have seemed surprising in a room full of businessmen who built their wealth on oil.
While Saudi Arabia produces the most oil of any country in the world, it is also the world's sixth-largest consumer — with a population of barely 31 million. The petroleum sector accounted for 90 per cent of fiscal revenues and 80 per cent of export earnings in 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund. Crude is so cheap in the desert country that SUVs and Cadillacs crowd its highways. The flow of oil revenue is smooth and constant, free from the burden of income tax.
Yet slowly, despite this abundance, the country's elite are starting to wake up to the reality that this high-flying lifestyle of fossil fuel consumption may not be sustainable. Much has changed in Saudi Arabia since bin Alwaleed spoke in 2015, and the Middle Eastern country has strengthened its commitments to mitigating climate change.
Bin Alwaleed is the son of the billionaire investor and philanthropist Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, also known as Time magazine's “Arabian Warren Buffett.” As the scion of one of the world’s wealthiest people, he grew up surrounded by opulence and glamour in his father’s colossal $136-million, 460,000 square foot palace in Riyadh.climate-change ] [ environment ] [ green-energy ] [ solar-energy ] [ sustainability ]