Saudi Arabia will not meet its goal of reducing emissions by 50% over 1990 levels by 2030

Saudi Arabia is at risk of not meeting its goal of reducing emissions to 50% over 1990 by 2030. Key factors, such as fossil fuel reliance, government policies, and private sector engagement, are becoming hurdles to enabling the country to reach this goal.

Saudi Arabia’s high dependence on fossil fuels and its young solar and wind projects may impede its transition to renewable energy. The nation must confront additional hurdles, including infrastructure development, financing, and grid integration. Accelerating the shift to renewables is crucial for achieving the country’s emissions reduction target.

Although Vision 2030 outlines plans to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix, Saudi Arabia needs to implement more concrete policies and regulations to facilitate this transition. Financial incentives for renewable projects, stricter emission regulations, and investments in research, development, workforce training, and infrastructure are vital to promoting the adoption of renewable technologies.

The state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco’s dominance in the energy sector may limit private investments in renewables. However, the government can be essential in fostering private sector participation by establishing a clear regulatory framework and offering incentives to attract investments. Moreover, public-private collaboration, including partnerships with international companies, can accelerate the growth of the renewable energy sector.

Saudi Arabia must immediately make a sharp cut in its GHG emissions by setting up a plan to phase out the production of fossil fuel entirely in order to reduce its emissions to below 389 MtCO2e by 2030 and to below 263 MtCO2e by 2050 to be within its emissions allowances under a ‘fair-share’ range compatible with global 1.5°C. Currently, the country’s 2030 NDC range of 1,105-861 MtCO2e by 2030 is critically insufficient. The country’s NDC is based on the so-called Carbon Circular Economy approach, which aims to “reduce, reuse, recycle, and remove” that only addresses a fraction of relevant emissions in Saudi Arabia stemming from extraction and processing. In contrast, most fossil fuel emissions come from fuel combustion. The kingdom’s plan also aims to reduce oil and gas domestic demand and allocate it as more lucrative exports to Asian oil buyers like China and India, thereby contributing to global emissions. Moreover, the 2060 net zero target aims to generate 50% of its electricity from renewable energy but doesn’t specify the mechanisms and timeline to scale up its renewable electricity generation capacity.  The Saudi Green Initiative Forum aims to plant 450 million trees and rehabilitate huge swaths of degraded lands by 2030, reducing 200 million tons of carbon emissions and attempting to turn the landlocked city of Riyadh into a more sustainable capital is a step in the right direction, but insufficient for Saudi Arabia to meet the 2030 goal of reducing their GHG emissions by 50%.


This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Saudi Arabia Country Managers Abeer Abdulkareem and Amgad Ellaboudy.


Climate change is real, and what governments do matters.

Help us work with key stakeholders globally to ensure continued support of the The Paris Agreement.