Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

Boris Johnson 'would have loved to have visited' Saudi Arabia's Neom project

UK Prime Minister to reveal ambition while urging G20 leaders to take direct action on climate change

Boris Johnson is primed to warn fellow leaders that the world risks failing future generations if states do not take bold steps to reduce their emissions.

“This week I announced a 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution in the UK – a significant package that will symbiotically tackle climate change and drive our economic recovery," he will say in a pre-recorded address at Saudi Arabia's virtual G20 summit on Saturday.

“And if we were in Saudi Arabia today ... what I would have loved to have done was to visit the exciting new city of Neom, whose origins I was able to inspect a couple of years ago.

“Built on the sands of fossil fuels but powered by green hydrogen, under an enviable climate, an enviably reliable sun to provide just inexhaustible solar energy, that city, that vision of Neom represents a greener future for all of us."

Neom is a planned cross-border city in the Tabuk Province of north-western Saudi Arabia. Courtesy: Neom
Neom is a planned cross-border city in the Tabuk Province of north-western Saudi Arabia. Courtesy: Neom

Warming to his green theme, Mr Johnson will proceed to urge his fellow G20 leaders "to make bold pledges and to harness our collective ingenuity and resources to defeat the pandemic and protect our planet and our future for generations”.

Given he has overseen the worst excess death rate in Europe since the onset of the pandemic, it is perhaps unsurprising he is seeking greater collaboration to combat the virus.

Mr Johnson's remarks also come in the wake of a damning OECD report, released on Friday, which determined that the UK was 20 days slower to react to the pandemic than its European neighbours.

At a session on ‘Overcoming the Pandemic and Restoring Growth and Jobs’ on Saturday, Boris Johnson will note the UK’s commitment to equitable global access for coronavirus vaccines and encourage others to step up and support the COVAX initiative, to ensure developing countries are not frozen out of the race.

On Sunday, he will welcome recent net zero commitments from a number of G20 countries at a session on ‘Building an Inclusive, Sustainable and Resilient Future’, and call on others to make the same pledge. The Prime Minister will attend the virtual G20 remotely from Downing Street as he continues to self-isolate following his close encounter with a Covid-infected MP last week.

Updated: November 21, 2020 04:38 PM

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