Saudi Arabia is making a commitment to reduce its impact on the environment, although the timeframe won't please critics. Reuters reports Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman now expect Saudi Arabia to achieve net zero emissions by 2060. That's behind the 2050 target for the EU, United Arab Emirates, US and other countries.
The kingdom hoped to reach net zero through a circular carbon economy program while trying to bolster the "security and stability" of the world's oil markets. While the princes said Saudi Arabia would more than double CO2 emissions reductions by 2030, they maintained that the country needed time to "properly" conduct a transition.
The Crown Prince said there was a chance Saudi Arabia would hit its target before 2060, and state oil producer Saudi Aramco hopes to reach net zero by 2050. However, the country has been moving relatively slowly. It only opened its first renewable energy plant in April, and its first wind farm in August. It's still planning its first hydrogen fuel plant.
The conservative schedule isn't surprising. Although Saudi Arabia has been diversifying its economy, oil and gas represent about 50 percent of the country's gross domestic product and 70 percent of its exports. Aggressive emissions reductions could affect the kingdom's core business.
That dependence might also create problems, however. The UK and some US states are among those banning sales of new combustion engine passenger vehicles within the next 10 to 15 years, and others might not be far behind. Oil exporters like Saudi Arabia may have to adjust their emissions targets if electric vehicle sales grow quicker than expected.