Saudi Arabia Greenhouse Gas Emissions Have Increased by 225% Since 1990

Saudi Arabia Greenhouse Gas Emissions Have Increased by 225% Since 1990

Recently Reported Greenhouse Gas Emissions Levels: 491.66 Metric Tons in 2018, an Increase of 225.37% and Increase from 1990 Levels (Source: IEA)

The latest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions figures indicate that in 2018 Saudi Arabia produced 491.66 million Metric Tons of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e), this figure is primarily driven by due oil and gas production. On an international scale, Saudi Arabia was responsible for 1.47% of global annual CO2 emissions.[1]

At 92.9%, CO2 emissions make up the lion’s share of Saudi Arabia’s GHG emissions. Total emissions have been on the rise since the 1970s when the oil boom propelled the country into one of the world’s leading oil producers. With a peak of 527.8 million Mt in 2016, emissions trending downward and should continue due to reduced oil demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Investing in renewable energy is a significant part of Saudi’s “Vision 2030” plan. In 2019, Saudi Arabia increased its commitment to renewable energy by increasing the renewable energy target to 27.3 GW by 2023 and 57.8 GW by 2030. As of 2019, however, only 0.4 GW of renewable energy has been installed. Since these projects only emerged recently, there is no significant evidence that renewable energy has taken effect on curbing Saudi’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Activity Ratings:

Emission Rates: ** / 4 stars

Saudi Arabia’s GHG emissions have been consistently increasing since the boom in oil production in the 1970s. Indeed, Saudi Arabia was responsible for 1.47% of global annual CO2 emissions. However, the Kingdom’s emissions are expected to decrease by 3-6% lower than its 2019 levels as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the overall decline in demand for oil. Nevertheless, Saudi inability to remove fossil fuel subsidies and include measures to address climate change in the economic stimulus package are concerning.

Existing Policies: ** / 4 stars

The status of Saudi Arabia’s emission policies over the past 10 years is highly unclear due to the fact that renewable energy projects are relatively new and no enough evidence to assess the impact of installing such projects on curbing greenhouse gas emissions exists yet.

Combined Activity Rating: **** / 8 stars

The decrease in the Kingdom’s GHG emissions is a relatively small achievement. What is most disappointing is the continued subsidies for an electricity system powered almost exclusively by fossil fuels coupled with the slow implementation of the renewable energy projects.


Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, Saudi Aramco

P.O. Box 5000
Dhahran 31311, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

[1] Data is from

This post was submitted by Saudi Arabia Country Managers Abeer Abdulkareem and Amgad Ellaboudy.

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