Oil Giant Sets Net-Zero Target

Saudi Arabia makes announcement ahead of global climate summit
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 24, 2021 10:10 AM CDT
Oil Giant Sets Net-Zero Target
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a virtual G-20 summit held over video conferencing in November 2020.   (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP, File)

Saudi Arabia, one of the world's largest oil producers, has announced it aims to reach "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, joining more than 100 countries in a global effort to curb man-made climate change. Although the kingdom will aim to reduce emissions within its own borders, there is no indication Saudi Arabia will slow down investments in oil and gas or relinquish sway over energy markets by moving away from the production of fossil fuels, the AP reports. Energy exports form the backbone of Saudi Arabia's economy, despite efforts to diversify revenue as the world increasingly looks to transition away from reliance on fossil fuels. The country is forecast to collect $150 billion in revenue this year from oil alone.

The announcement Saturday by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the start of the kingdom's first-ever Saudi Green Initiative Forum, was timed to make a splash before the start of the global COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. The prince committed Saudi Arabia to planting 450 million trees and rehabilitating huge swaths of land by 2030, reducing more than 270 million tons of carbon emissions a year and attempting to turn the landlocked city of Riyadh into a more sustainable capital. The kingdom joins Russia and China on their net-zero target date of 2060. The US and the European Union have aimed for 2050.

The announcement ensures the kingdom keeps a seat at the table in global climate change talks, analysts said. Saudi Arabia has pushed back against urgently phasing out fossil fuels, warning that a premature switch could lead to price volatility and shortages. Recently leaked documents show how the kingdom and other nations are lobbying behind the scenes ahead of the summit on emissions. Saudi Arabia said it will reach net-zero through a circular carbon economy approach, which advocates "reduce, reuse, recycle, and remove." It is an unpopular strategy among climate change activists because it touts still-unreliable carbon capture and storage technologies rather than honing in on the phasing out of fossil fuels.

(Read more climate change stories.)

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