Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 24, 2018.
Leather Bender | Reuters
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said on Saturday that the world’s largest oil exporter aims to reach net zero emissions by 2060 and more than double its annual target to cut carbon emissions to nearly 280 million metric tons.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was speaking in recorded remarks at the Saudi Green Initiative, which comes ahead of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12, and which it hopes to agree on deeper. Reducing emissions to tackle global warming.
Prince Mohammed said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aims to reach net zero emissions by 2060 within the framework of its circular program for the carbon economy in accordance with the Kingdom’s development plan … while preserving the Kingdom’s leading role in enhancing the security and stability of global oil markets.” She said.
Riyadh, a signatory to the Paris climate agreement, on Saturday detailed its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – targets for individual countries as part of a global effort to prevent average global temperatures from rising to more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The United States and the European Union want Saudi Arabia to join a global initiative to cut methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is scheduled to attend a broader green summit in the Middle East hosted by Riyadh on Monday.
Prince Mohammed said the Saudi Green Initiative aims to eliminate 278 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually, up from the previous target of 130 million metric tons.
Saudi Arabia pledged in March to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4% from global contributions through initiatives that include generating 50% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2030 and planting billions of trees in the desert state.
Its fellow Gulf producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), earlier this month, announced a plan for net zero emissions by 2050.
Saudi Arabia has been criticized for being too slow, with the Climate Action Tracker giving it the lowest possible rating of “seriously inadequate”.
The kingdom’s economy remains highly dependent on oil income, with economic diversification behind the ambitions outlined by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi officials have argued that the world will still need Saudi crude for decades to come.
Experts say it is too early to know the impact of emerging solar and wind projects in Saudi Arabia. The first renewable energy plant opened in April and the first wind farm began generating power in August.
Mega projects, such as the futuristic city of NEOM, have green energy plans including a $5 billion hydrogen plant, and entities associated with the Saudi state are working to focus on raising green money.
Some investors have expressed concerns about the kingdom’s carbon footprint. Others say Saudi Arabia exports the least amount of carbon per barrel of oil, and that de facto ruler Prince Mohammed is serious about economic diversification.
“The carbon footprint is clearly an issue. However, we would like to highlight that carbon will actually be slow to phase out, and that oil has been around for some time now,” said Tim Ash of BlueBay Asset Management in comments via email.