Prince Fahad Bin Jalawi signed the UN Sports for Climate Change Framework for the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee ©SOPC

The Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SOPC) has signed the United Nations (UN) Sports for Climate Action Framework at the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) in the Egyptian city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Prince Fahad Bin Jalawi signed up to the protocol on behalf of Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, who is the SOPC President and Saudi Arabia's Sports Minister.

The Sports for Climate Action Framework was co-created by UN Climate Change and the International Olympic Committee in 2018 aiming to support sports organisations in their pursuit of climate-change goals.

The SGI forum was held under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference, better known as COP27, and aimed to address climate challenges in the country.

Saudi Arabia is the world leader in exports of crude oil - a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions - and state-owned Aramco is the biggest corporate polluter in the world.

Climate activists have questioned its commitment to cutting carbon emissions.

Prince Fahad claimed that the SOPC was committed to using sport to help address climate change.

"The climate crisis is a call of action for all of us to combat climate change through all levels," he said.

"SOPC is working on expanding the scope of climate actions in the kingdom to be extended to the sport level to contribute to finding solutions for the climate crisis in and through sports at the international, regional, and national levels."

The Saudi Green Initiative forum was held alongside COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh ©SOPC
The Saudi Green Initiative forum was held alongside COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh ©SOPC

He added: "It is our responsibility to spread awareness about the climate issues and address them through sport as well as join the forces of all sports organisations in the kingdom to play a vital role that helps achieve the goals of SGI and 2030 vision."

Saudi Arabia is seeking to increase its already considerable influence within sport.

It is has held numerous professional boxing fights, is a Formula 1 Grand Prix host and is a significant player within esports.

Events awarded to Saudi Arabia include the 2034 Asian Games, next year's World Combat Games, the 2025 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and the 2029 Asian Winter Games.

Organisers of the 2029 Asian Winter Games in the planned resort of Trojena claim that it will be powered by renewable energy, but organisations including Greenpeace have branded the plans as "dangerous".

Bids for the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup have also been mooted.

However, critics have accused the Saudi regime of sportswashing and seeking to distract from its record on human rights, including the state-ordered assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, its role in the bombing in Yemen, harsh restrictions in place on women's rights and its use of the death penalty.