DUBAI — Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser said that Saudi Arabia will operate the first train powered by hydrogen in the region. “The cost of transportation using alternative energy is declining rapidly,” he said while addressing the COP28 conference in Dubai on Monday.

The minister pointed out several challenges that affect the process of removing carbon emissions, including the increase in population, which requires the increased use of transportation. He said that developing this sector may sometimes come at the expense of the environment. “Transportation sector is one of the biggest causes of climate change and the increase in carbon emissions and pollution. In Saudi Arabia, it represents the second largest source of emissions, followed by the energy sector, which constitutes 19 percent of total emissions,” he said.

Al-Jasser said that the Saudi Green Initiative, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, underscored the importance of paying attention to achieving sustainability and making it at the core of environmental initiatives. He noted that the Kingdom aims to reduce carbon emissions by about 267 million tons by the year 2030, and the National Transport Strategy was developed an ambitious goal to reduce emissions by 18 percent by 2030.

The minister stated that the sustainable transportation plans in the Kingdom are close to reaching their goals and are part of Vision 2030. “The carbon reduction goals in the Kingdom face four challenges, which are the result of large population growth and thus an increase in the number of transportation users. The second challenge is that the transition to technologies featuring low emissions necessitate the development of high-cost infrastructure, especially in developing countries. He said that the long-term benefits outweigh these costs, but the transition is often difficult.

As for the third challenge, as in many solutions, such as replacing cars whose engines use fuel with electric cars, it is necessary to increase the production of electrical energy, which must then be produced from non-fossil sources.

Al-Jasser said that the Kingdom wants 50 percent of its energy to be from renewable sources by 2030, and this is a challenge. He explained that the effectiveness of these solutions may not always be complete because efforts to reduce carbon emissions are linked to the availability of the data required to achieve these solutions and initiatives.

He said that there has been a decrease in the cost of electric cars in some regions to be less than cars powered by fuel combustion engines, and this is encouraging for consumers to purchase such environmentally friendly cars in the future.

The minister pointed out that governments may move to enact legislation that encourages the acquisition of these cars, and Saudi Arabia has adopted a legislative framework that supports all policies aimed at adopting all technologies and projects that reduce carbon emissions in terms of means of transportation and other technological solutions.

He noted that one of the technological solutions adopted by the Kingdom is to reduce the need for transportation through remote work in many government departments in the Kingdom for at least a number of working days per week, which reduces the use of cars and means of transportation and thus reduces carbon emissions.

The Kingdom has strengthened public transport projects such as the metro and bus in Riyadh, and it is also in the process of establishing an integrated public transport network.

Al-Jasser said that the Kingdom is working to adopt environmentally friendly policies in the field of aviation, and is trying to take the initiative to supply aircraft with environmentally friendly fuel that has low carbon emissions.

Last month, Saudi Arabia carried out a test run of a hydrogen train, which will be operational soon. The hydrogen-powered train is noted for zero-carbon emission and environment friendliness. This also represents a significant stride toward sustainable and innovative railway transportation

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