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          International energy reform urges for people to do their part

          By Jan Yumul in Riyadh | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-02-09 21:56
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          An international energy forum in Riyadh has reiterated the call for all to "do their part and do more" in face of security and the low-carbon supply of energy, one of today's most pressing issues.

          "The challenges of the world have changed. Energy security has come back to the forefront and has to be taken seriously everywhere because it is one key dimension of energy transition," said Jean-Michel Glachant, president at the International Association of Energy Economics, or IAEE at the closing panel of the 44th International Conference of the IAEE.

          "Financing itself has become another key dimension of energy transition. We must always remember the millions of humans who still do not have access to modern energy," said Glachant.

          In his closing remarks, Fahad Alajlan, president of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, or KAPSARC, said energy security "is becoming more important and that's not only oil and gas."

          He said there are supply chain issues and critical minerals needed and that "we need resiliency more than ever."

          "The energy crises has subsided but has not ended. We need to be prepared for more volatility, geopolitics and conflicts will increase and that risk will continue," said Alajlan.

          "Second, we're not doing enough for climate change. We're going for some optimal solutions in all sectors. Clean energy and renewable are important but it's not enough and we need more than that to get to net zero. And hydrocarbons wouldn't be part of the energy mix and we need to renew our focus on decarbonization," he added.

          Majid Al-Moneef, chairman at the Saudi Association for Energy Economics, or SAEE said that he was "surprised" that the current market situation and crisis in Europe "did not really dominate the discussions" at the conference, which ran from Feb 4 to 8. But he hoped they, as hosts, succeeded in providing a platform for everyone to exchange their ideas and address pressing issues.

          He noted that the current crises "have changed the trajectory, and trade flows" and could also be changing the investment flows.

          Gürkan Kumbaro?lu, vice rector and professor of Industrial Engineering of Bo?azi?i University in Turkiye, said the conference to him has been a showcase and that "there is great progress, willingness and determination in this direction toward Saudi Arabia's new vision.

          "The implications of this new vision, of this change, are not only national, they are regional, as well as global, because we're talking about the world's largest petroleum exporter who will now become an exporter of green electricity, and an exporter of green and blue hydrogen," said Kumbaro?lu.

          "Saudi Arabia takes this green energy transformation, not as a threat but as an opportunity to adapt and sustain its role in global energy markets," he added.

          He also said Saudi Arabia's vision to become the leading country in decarbonization is setting an example for others to follow in terms of "the sustainable energy revolution." Istanbul of Turkiye is scheduled to host the next IAEE international conference in 2024.

          Alajlan said he was "completely surprised" with one of the presentations that showed that 91 percent of the energy in the transportation sector continues to come from oil – three percent lower than in the 1970s and lamented that little progress was made in the past four decades and that there was still "a long way to go".

          "Transportation starts with walking. So, we need to think a lot more about buses, public transportation, e-scooters and other two wheelers. We need to think this is not only a technology issue. We need to think about serious redesigns of our cities, how we work and how we live," said Alajlan.

          He also said "we are not investing enough in energy" and that investment is needed in other things, business models, and the need for capacity building.

          "We need to focus on people. We need to invest in people," said Alajlan.

          Christophe Bonnery , president at the French Association for Energy Economics, said one thing that impressed him was "the willingness of the Kingdom" to become a world leader in energy transition and that it was also willing to export its knowledge to other countries.

          He urged hosts KAPSARC and SAEE to continue doing their work, invite diverse speakers from Saudi Arabia, and consider having an inter-disciplinary team, not just mostly economists.

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