Saudi Arabia, a global hub for oil production, has this week unveiled its plans to achieve net–zero by 2060, in an announcement made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud at an environment summit.
At the speech, Salman laid out a roadmap to achieving this goal, highlighting a number of new schemes that will be rolled out under the Saudi Green Initiative. These upcoming projects are intended to boost the Kingdom’s environmental status and achieve carbon emission reductions of more than 278 Mtpa by 2030.
The new pledge marks a doubling down on targets initially laid out in the Green Initiative – announced in March this year. The initiative committed the nation to reducing its global contribution to carbon emissions by more than 4%, and establish a renewable energy program that will allow half of the Kingdom’s power to come from renewable sources by 2030.
Under the new climate plan, the Kingdom is also set to plant 450 million trees and rehabilitate eight million hectares of degraded land by 2030, with these measures estimated to provide carbon emissions savings of 200 million tonnes. The Kingdom has also joined a global methane pledge, working alongside more than 30 countries to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
According to the Crown Prince, this first round of initiatives is estimated to provide over $186.6bn in support of the nation’s burgeoning green economy.
“The Saudi Green Initiative will provide huge investment opportunities for the private sector, quality job opportunities for the next generation of leaders in the Kingdom, and enhanced international relationships that will have a positive impact on the region and the world,” he said.
The announcement has not, however, been met with universal approval, as the emission-cutting targets do not include those produced from oil exported to other countries. Given the nation’s status as a top producer of the resource, environmentalists will have their eye on a total phase-out of oil before commending the Kingdom’s environmental efforts.
Greenpeace Middle East and North Africa campaigns manager Ahmad El Droubi said in a statement: “We question the seriousness of this announcement, as it comes in parallel with plans for the Kingdom to increase its oil production to 13 million barrels per day…[It] seems to simply be a strategic move to alleviate political pressure ahead of COP26.”