Spotlight Activity: Saudi Arabia’s Climate Data Reporting System Is out of Date and Relies on Outside Sources
The Saudi Arabia data on climate change emissions can be extracted from three sources: The World Bank (WB), The International Energy Agency (IEA), and the United Nations (UN) statistics on CO2 emissions. The WB data covers a wide period from 1960 to 2014, while the IEA data provides information from 1990 up to 2016, and The UN data has information on CO2 emissions and Greenhouse gas emissions per sector up to 2011. All the datasets are reliable, as they use scientific formulas, which analyze data gathered over long periods of time. For example, the WB data comes from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, United States.
The Saudi level of emissions has increased alarmingly over the last 40 years, rising from 2,676.9 kt (kilotonnes) in 1970 to 601,047.0 kt in 2014. This means that Saudi Arabia’s CO2 emissions level has increased by more than 22, 350 percent, or more than 224 times in that time period. Most of this CO2 emission is from liquid fuel consumption from the burning and processing of fossil fuels, such as crude oil and natural gas.
The Kingdom’s CO2 emissions slowly started to come down, as it decreased from 531.55 Mt (megatonnes) of CO2 in 2015 to 527.23 Mt of CO2 in 2016, or a 0.8 percent decrease in CO2. This is the culmination of joint efforts between Saudi Aramco’s Carbon Management and the Saudi Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, both of whom implemented plans to reduce CO2 emissions by capturing 45 mio (million) tonnes of CO2 per day, processing and transferring it through 85-km pipelines to oil fields to be re-injected into the oil reservoirs.
Status: Right Direction
The reliability of data cited concerning Saudi Arabia’s greenhouse gas emissions is good, as it comes from reputable sources such as the World Bank and the International Energy Agency (IEA). Seeing that both of these organizations are based outside of Saudi Arabia, they are more likely to be unbiased when reporting greenhouse gas emissions numbers. The last year the WB data reports on, 2014, indicates 601.0 Mt of total CO2 emissions for the year, while the IEA data indicates 506.7 Mt of total CO2 emissions for that same year.
This indicates that although this data is useful in detecting overall trends in greenhouse gas emission patterns, there exists a discrepancy between the two in total reported emissions, which must be taken into consideration when interpreting the data. Also, the WB data only reports up to 2014, while the IEA data reports up to 2016, so both datasets are not useful when trying to interpret CO2 emission patterns of the last few years.
We encourage the Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Natural Resources, as well as the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture, to continue providing data to outside agencies that are able to compile greenhouse gas emission data and keep track of how well the country is doing in regard to its commitment to curb carbon emissions, so that we might have more up-to-date data. We also encourage the ministries to clarify any discrepancies found in official agency reports around the world, to ensure that only accurate data is reported.
Send Action Alert Message to:
Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources
Abdurrahman Abdul Mohsen Al-Fadli
Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture
Toll Free 800 247 2220
- World Bank Data, https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.KT?end=2011&locations=SA&start=1970,
- International Energy Agency Data: https://www.iea.org/countries/Saudipercent20Arabia/
- The UN Statistics Division, environmental Indicator tables. https://unstats.un.org/unsd/envstats/qindicators.cshtml
- “Saudi Arabia touts its crude oil CO2 edge”. Axios. September 6, 2018. https://www.axios.com/saudi-arabia-touts-low-crude-oil-carbon-emissions-505c2c58-e776-48f8-9dd1-1020efed08fa.html