Environmental protection: Saudi Arabia wants to be climate neutral by 2060

As of: 23.10.2021 2:39 p.m.

As the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia is also one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters. So far, climate protection has been on the back burner. That should change: the country wants to be climate neutral by 2060.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is striving for climate neutrality in almost 40 years. The Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declared that his country did not want to produce any additional greenhouse gases “by 2060”. This should be possible through the “approach of a circular economy for carbon”. The Crown Prince made the announcement a few days before the world climate summit begins.

The target for 2060 would “enable a smooth and practicable transition without risking economic or social impact,” said Energy Minister Prince Abdulasis bin Salman at an environmental conference.

Investors threaten to exit because of climate footprint

Saudi Arabia is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world. However, the country is under pressure because investors are threatening to turn away from the oil company Saudi Aramco, which is one of the desert state’s most important sources of income, because of its high climate footprint.

According to the UN, more than 130 countries have set themselves the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Germany wants to be climate neutral by 2045.

More than 450 million trees are to be planted

Crown Prince bin Salman also announced new “initiatives in the energy sector” which should reduce CO2 emissions by 278 million tons annually by 2030. With this, Saudi Arabia “doubles” its contribution to climate protection, he explained.

It was only in March that the Crown Prince presented a climate protection plan which, among other things, provides for the planting of billions of trees in the coming decades. The oil country wants to reduce its emissions by generating half of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, he said at the time.

In the first phase, more than 450 million trees will be planted and eight million hectares of damaged land will be restored. Saudi Arabia also said it would designate new “protected areas”. With this move, the proportion of protected areas in the kingdom increases to more than 20 percent of its total area, said bin Salman, adding that the first phase of the climate protection initiative will cost more than 700 billion riyals (160 billion euros).

“One-way street into disaster”

Saudi Arabia also wants to join an EU and US initiative to reduce methane emissions. The participating countries promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. In the meantime, more than 30 countries have declared their support for this.

From October 31st, the governments will be negotiating at the world climate conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, how they can actually meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. This provides for a limitation of global warming to well below two and if possible to 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial age.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently described the current climate situation as a “one-way street into disaster”. There should be no “failure” of the conference in Glasgow.


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