Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, sees an opportunity in the current climate crisis.


Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, sees an opportunity in the current climate crisis.

Although the climate issue appears to be bad news for the oil sector, Saudi Arabia is spotting an opportunity that might help it maintain its energy dominance for decades.

Not only is the world’s largest oil exporter increasing output, but it’s also pursuing the trillion-dollar developing sectors that have been hailed as a path to cleaner air.

Such a move by one of the world’s worst polluters has angered environmentalists, with Greenpeace accusing the company of “greenwashing.”

However, after earning G20 approval during Saudi Arabia’s chairmanship of the UN last year, a push for the kingdom’s vaunted “circular carbon economy” is set to appear during the UN’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, which begin on Sunday.

At this week’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh, the message was loud and clear: the Saudis are staying with oil, and they want it to be part of the answer.

“I’m sure people have seen that we’ve been reinventing ourselves,” Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman addressed the tens of thousands of people who attended the “Davos in the desert” event, which featured business superstars.

Prince Abdulaziz was speaking after Saudi Arabia pledged to go carbon-neutral by 2060 and pledged more than $1 billion for circular carbon economy programs and the production of “clean” fuel for the world’s poor, casting doubt on projections of declining oil demand.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, often known as MBS, the de facto ruler who made a brief appearance at the Riyadh conference, has described the country as entering a “green age,” as it works to increase oil production to 13 million barrels per day by 2027.

On the huge screen, Prince Abdulaziz displayed a chart emphasizing Saudi goals for “global energy preeminence” through leadership in oil and gas, petrochemicals, renewables, hydrogen, and carbon, in that order.

Even with substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the UN has warned that by 2030, average global temperatures will have risen 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, hastening a disastrous trend of drought, floods, and excessive heat around the planet.

Experts suggest that circular carbon activities, such as capturing carbon from the air and emissions and repurposing it for cleaner fuels and fertilisers, are needed to reduce pollution even more.

“Those advocating for a strong break with hydrocarbons may not like the circular carbon economy, but it is the logical approach to manufacture a multitude of low- or zero-emission products.” The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.


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