Saudi Arabia sets new green objectives pledging to reach net-zero by 2060

Ahead of the UN COP26 summit in Glasgow, one of the world’s major oil producers and exporters, Saudi Arabia, disclosed its aim to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060.

The announcement regarding Saudi Arabia’s new green initiatives and ambition to reach net-zero for Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2060 was made on Saturday at the first sustainability-oriented Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Forum by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The transition to net-zero carbon emissions will be delivered in a manner that preserves the kingdom’s leading role in enhancing the security and stability of global energy markets, particularly considering the maturity and availability of technologies necessary to manage and reduce emissions,” explained Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.

Saudi Arabia
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; Source: Saudi Press Agency

The aim to reduce emissions will be reached through a so-called ‘Carbon Circular Economy’ approach, which refers to carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies.

As oil and gas exports represent the backbone of Saudi Arabia’s  economy, the Crown Prince explained: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aims to reach zero-net emissions by 2060 under its circular carbon economy programme, while maintaining the kingdom’s leading role in strengthening security and stability of global oil markets.”

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia intends to invest more than $186.63 billion in its green future and has pledged to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by more than 4 per cent by 2030. The de facto leader also confirmed Saudi Arabia’s accession to the Global Methane Pledge, aiming to reduce global methane emissions by 30 per cent.

Several leaders and organisations have applauded and welcomed Saudi Arabia’s net-zero pledge.

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, expressed his views on Twitter“I welcome Saudi Arabia’s announcement of a net-zero target. Countries will get to Net Zero via different paths, but the threat of climate change is universal. Pledges from major fossil-fuel producers, and their implementation, are vital to reach international climate goals.”

Alok Sharma, who will lead the upcoming 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, praised the move in a Twitter post: “I welcome Saudi Arabia’s 🇸🇦 announcement that it will reach net zero by 2060. I hope this landmark announcement at SGI Forum will galvanise ambition from others ahead of COP26. Look forward to the detail of Saudi Arabia’s revised NDC and working together to keep 1.5C in reach.”

The International Energy Agency (IEA) published in May 2021 a comprehensive study regarding the net-zero by 2050 pledge. This included more than 400 milestones to guide the global journey to net-zero by 2050, which specified no further investment in new fossil fuel supply projects and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants.

After OPEC ministers met to affirm production levels through July, the Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman did not express a favourable view of this report and instead his exact words were: “I would have to express my view that I believe it is a sequel of ‘La La Land’ movie.”

At this point, Saudi Arabia had not set a net-zero target, however, the country has now rectified this, albeit the target puts the country ten behind the recommended 2050 deadline, which was set by the International Energy Agency.

More than 130 countries have committed to reaching net-zero emissions. Several of them, including the UK,  the United Arab Emirates, the European Union, and the United States have vowed to achieve this monumental feat by 2050.

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