Saudi Arabia set to reveal vision for post-oil future

CRIB NOTES 25-29 April: Top petropower plans major reforms, momentum gathers behind Paris ratification drive, France aims to raise carbon prices

Riyadh is primed for reform (Pic: Hamza82/Flickr)


Saudi Arabia has traditionally depended on the oil sector for 90% of its budget, but that won’t last forever.

On Monday, reforming deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to unveil his “Vision for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” according to a fascinating profile by Bloomberg.

In an 8-hour interview, the 30-year-old prince outlined how he plans to make the economy resilient against commodity fluctuations. “We don’t care about oil prices—$30 or $70, they are all the same to us,” he said, with remarkable nonchalance.

As we previously reported, he is planning to start selling shares in national oil firm Saudi Aramco, ultimately building up a US$2 trillion sovereign wealth fund. By 2035, he expects those diversified investments to be the state’s main source of income.

Meanwhile, a phase-out of consumer subsidies at home will discourage wasteful consumption. Here’s what it means for climate change.

Watch this space for further details and reaction.

Paris to New York…

Last Friday, an unprecedented 175 world leaders showed up in New York to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change. Fifteen brought their instruments of ratification.

China upped the ante by announcing plans to ratify by September, when it hosts the next G20 summit. The US, Canada and Australia also promised to complete the formalities swiftly.

Remember, 55 countries representing 55% of global emissions must formally join the deal to bring it into force. According to the World Resources Institute, Friday’s pledges get us up to 25 and 45% respectively.

John Silk, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, said: “It is in all of our interests to bring the Paris Agreement into force this year. We can, and we must do everything to make this a top political priority.

“Even in countries where these processes take time, there must be a concerted effort to go through the necessary steps as quickly as possible – this is what the science demands and what the people of the world rightly expect.”

…and back again

France was among six countries urging governments to expand carbon pricing. President Francois Hollande promised to reveal details on Monday of a path to €100 a tonne.

With the price on Europe’s emissions trading scheme languishing at €5/t, it will be interesting to see whether he is pushing EU-wide reform or supplemental domestic measures.

Dirk Forrister, president of the International Emissions Trading Association, said countries should link their carbon markets “to stimulate innovation and accelerate action”

Climate funds seek good home

Hela Cheikhrouhou, executive director of the Green Climate Fund, has put out a call for projects and programmes to invest its US$10 billion starting capital in.

“We need developing countries and our partner institutions to bring forward project proposals that meet the ambition of Paris, that unlock innovation, and that will truly drive low-emission, climate-resilient development,” she said.

Marathon man

A shout out to our editor Ed King, who ran the London Marathon on Sunday in a respectable three hours and 28 minutes, hitting his target time. He has raised more than £1,800 for Save the Children. You can sponsor him on JustGiving.

Ed is taking a well earned holiday, so any mistakes you spot this week are my own. Please point them out to me gently.

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