How Saudi Arabia, the largest oil exporter, plans to reach ‘zero’ emissions by 2060 – El Financiero
Kingdom Saudi ArabiaThe world’s largest oil exporter has pledged to end global warming emissions by 2060, but has made clear the new plan will not work if the country is prevented from pumping millions of barrels per day for decades.
It is “a goal that allows us to say to the world: We are with you. We share the same concern. We want to develop,” Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman said, adding that the country will adopt a “holistic and technological” approach to achieve the goal.
Advertising will prove to be an enhancement to Climate Summit COP26 kicks off in Glasgow, Scotland, on October 31, even as experts ask questions about the credibility of the targets set by the fossil fuel giant.
“The world cannot function without fossil fuels, without hydrocarbons, without renewable energy…None of these things will be a lifesaver,” Prince Abdulaziz told the Saudi Green Initiative Forum. It must be a comprehensive solution.”
In global talks, such as G-20 meetings or COP summits, Saudi Arabia often pushes to ensure that fossil fuels play a more permanent role in the energy transition. Just a few months ago, Prince Abdulaziz said on a special occasion that “every molecule of hydrocarbons will come out”.
The energy supply crisis the world is facing has given the country and its allies in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) one more reason to redouble the message, even though the underlying reasons for the shortages are not about green policies and more. Rapid increase in energy demand after pandemic lockdowns.
“The world has slept in a supply crisis,” Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates and CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil, said during a panel discussion at the forum. We cannot underestimate the importance of oil and gas in meeting global energy demand.
As developing countries seek about $100 billion annually to help finance the energy transition and build resilience against climate change, Saudi Arabia will not seek to tap into these sources. “We are not looking for grants,” Prince Abdulaziz said. We are not looking for financing. We are not looking for any monetary support.”
Saudi Arabia, which relies on fossil fuel exports for most of its gross domestic product, has struggled to diversify its economy. Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant, has also set a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, but only for emissions from its own operations. More than 80 percent of the company’s total emissions come from customers who burn fossil fuels, which are not covered by the obligation.
The Minister of Energy warned that without continuing to export oil, the country may not have the ability to achieve those goals. The country has the highest per capita emissions among the G20 countries.
So what is the emissions reduction plan? “We believe that carbon capture, use and storage, direct air capture, hydrogen and low carbon fuels are the things that will develop the necessary components,” Prince Abdulaziz said. This will require “international cooperation in research and technological development and, most importantly, the diffusion of these technologies.”
Although scientists have been warning about the effects of climate change for more than 30 years, it is only in the past few years that countries have come out and set net zero goals that are necessary to stabilize global temperatures. The Green technologies will play an essential role To help the world achieve climate goals, however, scientists agree that these goals will not be achievable without reducing the extraction and use of fossil fuels.
“Why 2060? Because most of these technologies may not mature before 2040,” said the Minister of Energy.
The target year 2060 matches the ambitions set by Russia and China, but lags behind those set by other major economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union. Even among petro-states, the UAE earlier this month set a goal of achieving net zero by 2050.
“It’s an ambitious goal,” said Karen Young, Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute. “In a way, it’s more of a branding process than a real long-term political commitment.”
The energy minister reiterated a goal that the kingdom plans to increase the share of renewables to 50 percent of the mix, with natural gas covering the other half by 2030. That would require significant change in less than nine years in a country where solar energy is operating. Energy is hardly recorded today. The country has pledged to invest about $187 billion in the green economy, without specifying how long those funds will be spent.
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