Is Business Doing Enough to Address “Environmental Degradation” –and Other Important Points-of-Debate at a Recent Harvard B-School Conference
Many people are fascinated with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with its wondrous 21st Century blend of modern and medieval elements – and the country appears to moving along with rapid and dramatic changes under new royal family leadership (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman).
One of the elements of change that caught our eye is a non-Saudi business leader’s commentary that addresses the question of there being “a new model for sustainability” in the Middle East, possibly led by the kingdom…with its Vision 2030 and innovations in power consumption for air conditioning.
Kevin Cha, President, LG Electronics for the Middle East and Africa -- wrote an opinion in the Saudi Gazette, telling us this week in our Top Story about what he thinks may be in store for the future.
A diversified economy -- moving away from decades of heavy reliance on oil and natural gas sales to the world -- will mean (he asserts) more opportunities for Saudi subjects (they are not “citizens” in the western sense), and promises of a better lifestyle. And with all that, the increasing need for better technological-based solutions. For air conditioning, especially.
This is the ideal time to instill values of resource management and sustainability in the “minds of millions of upwardly-mobile Saudis, Kevin Cha thinks.
As example within his area of expertise: More than 70 percent of the kingdom’s generated electricity is consumed for air conditioning and cooling (yes, it is a desert-based kingdom) and summer demand is double that of winter months (note that it does get cooler in the Middle East winters).
While less than 65% of the world’s electric needs are now met through steam turbines fueled by traditional fossil fuels, 100% of Saudi Arabia’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels (of course it has abundant supplies of these). But -- this is unsustainable for the long-term, Kevin Cha points out.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 Plan for sustainable development could help to change this picture in dramatic terms. New technologies and new products are being introduced to the kingdom -- among them (curtain raised) is (of course) LG air conditioning products. The conditions in Saudi Arabia make for a challenging testing ground for A/C technology. (The local environment is dust-laden, corrosive, with high temperatures and humidity.) And so the LG Electronics products are being “battle-tested” in Saudi Arabia. Good for the company and the A/C industry: As the world’s demand for electric power (including Saudi Arabia’s needs to be met with continued economic growth), the kingdom is providing a test bed for the LC’s technologies and products.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 calls for reducing reliance on oil and boosting state investment in the private sector. There are important elements of the program that call for growth of entertainment and tourism (ala, Gulf Emirates-style), and reforms of the education system. It is being formulated in “Our Vision” – Saudi Arabia…the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, the investment powerhouse, and the hub connecting three continents…”
And with lower-cost, abundant air conditioning to cool your hot days through more sustainable means!
This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view the full issue.