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Saudi sticks to green energy goals despite pressures

Saudi Arabia's minister of energy Abdulaziz bin Salman Reuters
Saudi Arabia's minister of energy Abdulaziz bin Salman says the kingdom is 'challenging everybody to make sure they can do what we are doing' in pursuit of energy transition
  • Aiming for 50% renewable energy by 2030
  • Net zero by 2060
  • Minister says kingdom is ‘model’

Saudi Arabia aims to be a model for green energy transition despite being home to the world’s largest oil production company, its minister of energy said in Riyadh this week. 

Abdulaziz bin Salman added that it will not let regional turmoil slow its progress.

“We will be challenging everybody to ensure they can do what we are doing and compete with us if they can,” Bin Salman told a Saudi-European Union investment forum.

“We assure you, no one will compete with us in the transition phase because we are embarking on a journey that makes us not only competitive but a model for all energy producers, for all those aspiring to build a modern energy system.”

He said the global upheavals such as the Covid-19 pandemic and war in Gaza would not derail this.

“We should maintain our focus,” he said. “We still have a steady compass that is giving us the direction which is Vision 2030.”

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, has launched a series of mammoth development projects as part of its effort to diversify away from oil.

It aims to expand the private sector, increase Saudi home ownership, become a major global tourist destination, and attract foreign businesses into new high-tech cities such as Neom

The total value of real estate and infrastructure projects is $1.25 trillion, in addition to $250 billion of commissioned projects, real estate consultancy Knight Frank said last month.

The Saudi economy has rebounded from the pandemic but analysts see it contracting this year as a result of Opec+ output cuts. These have driven prices higher, giving the government extra cash to spend on the giga-projects.

The government said this month it had put normalisation talks with Israel on hold because of the ongoing Gaza crisis. 

Leading the way

Saudi Arabia is trying to put itself at the forefront of green energy and industries such as rechargeable lithium batteries, hydrogen fuel and carbon capture. 

The minister said Saudi Arabia was aiming for 50 percent renewable energy usage by 2030, compared with the EU goal of 45 percent.

Saudi Arabia and other Global South countries have committed to 2060 as a net zero target, while Western countries have pushed for 2050. The next UN climate summit begins in Abu Dhabi next month. 

The minister said the advanced industrialised economies need to understand the situation of poorer countries in facing climate change and reduction of emissions. 

“We need to address climate change in a proper, collective, comprehensive way that takes into account national circumstances and goes through all the sectors using all different technologies,” he said. 

“We’re here to demonstrate that this can be done here and if it can be done here, the incubator of the biggest hydrocarbon resource country, then I think it can happen elsewhere because there they don’t have the choices that we have.”