World’s top oil exporter Saudi Arabia pledges to net zero by 2060

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has announced a target to reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2060, albeit while stressing the continued importance of hydrocarbons to the global economy.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his energy minister revealed the plans for Saudi Arabia to ostensibly tackle climate change at the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) on Saturday, ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next week.

Salman also said the world’s top oil exporter would double the emissions cuts it plans to achieve by 2030. The SGI now aims to eliminate 278 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year by 2030 from investments of over US$190 billion during that time period.

In recorded remarks, Salman said the climate targets would be achieved via a ‘carbon circular economy’, which harks to the use of carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies. This would allow for continued burning of fossil fuels, which he said would preserve and reinforce ‘the kingdom’s leading role in the security and stability of global energy markets’.

Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the world needed fossil fuels as well as renewables: “It has to be a comprehensive solution,” he said. “We need to be inclusive, and inclusivity requires being open to accept others’ efforts as long as they are going to reduce emissions.”

The non-profit Climate Action Tracker consortium gives Saudi Arabia its lowest possible ranking: ‘Critically insufficient’.