The largest oil exporter in the world, Saudi Arabia, is committed to reducing its carbon emissions to zero by 2060.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the Gulf state will invest more than $ 180 billion (£ 130 billion) to achieve the goal.
But he said the kingdom will continue to produce oil for decades to come.
The announcement comes just days before the COP26 climate change summit, during which world leaders will be urged on their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thereby reduce global warming.
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Saudi Arabia now joins more than 100 countries that are committed to achieving net zero emissions.
Net zero means not increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
It is achieved by combining as much as possible the reduction of emissions – mainly by reducing gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), which are released in the use of fossil fuels – and the so-called compensation measures, such as tree planting and capture of the carbon technology.
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While China and Russia have plans to hit net zero by 2060, other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, another major oil producer, they aim to reach the goal 10 years earlier.
Saudi Arabia’s move marks a change for the 10th largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world. It has long resisted calls to cut its fossil fuel investments.
This week, documents leaked to the BBC revealed that Saudi officials have called on the United Nations to downplay the need to quickly move away from fossil fuels, ahead of the COP26 meeting, which begins in Glasgow on 31 October.
At the launch of a climate conference in Riyadh, Prince Mohammed – the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia – said he would achieve the goal without affecting the “stability of global energy markets”.
He said the country will also reduce its methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
The plans would be based on the “availability of the technologies necessary to manage and reduce emissions,” the prince said.
Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman said the country will use carbon capture, a technology that extracts CO2 from the air, to help it achieve the goal.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia said it would cut carbon emissions by switching to renewable energy and planting billions of trees.
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a UK-based think tank, described Saudi Arabia’s net zero goal as “very welcome”, but said the kingdom had to publish a plan on how it would be achieved.
“There is a lack of clarity … it would be really nice to see things cleared up,” he said, adding that the carbon capture commitments were “very speculative.”
Since the net zero target only applies to domestic emissions, it could mean Saudi Arabia won’t need to cut its oil and gas production. Carbon emissions from fossil fuels burned by other nations once the kingdom ships them overseas will not be counted.
“There are a lot of people who will be cynical about this unless Saudi Arabia plans to cut its oil and gas production, which it has no plans to do,” Black said.
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