Saudi Arabia submits climate pledge to UN deal

Petropower offers conditional emissions cuts of up to 130Mt CO2e by 2030, becoming last G20 member to submit plan before Paris summit

(Pic: Hamza82/Flickr)

(Pic: Hamza82/Flickr)

By Alex Pashley

Saudi Arabia made its contribution to a climate rescue pact on Tuesday, calling it a “significant deviation” for the emissions of the oil-reliant economy.

The world’s largest crude oil producer pledged to achieve “mitigation co-benefits” of up to 130 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year by 2030, in an opaque submission with numerous caveats.

It was the last G20 country to submit its offer to the UN, ahead of a meeting of those wealthy economies this weekend – and next month’s critical climate summit in Paris.

The 14th largest polluter emitted 527Mt in 2012, and didn’t give figures for forecasts of future emissions growth.

Plans to deploy renewable power and target energy efficiency depend on strong economic growth from oil revenues, it said, which make up 90% of GDP.

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To lessen the dominance of its oil industry by growing its petrochemical and mining sectors among others, it would need financial assistance to compensate for slower economic growth.

“These measures focus on harnessing the mitigation potential in a way that prevents ‘lock in’ of high-GHG infrastructure,” the submission said.

The “intended nationally determined contribution” (INDC) to a UN deal sees a staunch climate laggard endorse efforts to limit climate change after months of speculation.

Over 150 countries covering 90% of greenhouse gas emissions have now contributed to a new global warming accord expected to be struck in Paris in December.

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Saudi Arabia, which is weathering a collapse in global energy prices, highlighted its drive to diversify its economy.

Riyadh said it had “ambitious programs for renewable energy to increase its contribution to the energy mix,” such as solar and wind power. It declined to put any target in terms of installed capacity, however.

It also outlined unquantified targets for carbon capture and storage, gas production, and reductions in methane leaks and flaring.

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