Saudi Arabian Emissions Rise Again After COVID


Rating D (Falling Behind)


Saudi Arabia’s emissions have been increasing in the last two years, bouncing back from their relatively low levels during the pandemic period despite several ambitious policies, including investing in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies and planning to achieve a 50% share of renewable energy in the energy mix by 2023. The latest data shows that CO2 emissions increased to 586398.24 KT in 2021 from 547915.95 KT in 2020. In 2022, the net emissions from CO2 reached 593550 KT. After converting CH4 and N2O emissions to CO2eq, the emissions from the three gases added up to 663800 KT of CO2eq, as the graph below shows:

(Source: Climate Transparency)

Based on the data available, Saudi progress in reducing emissions has been too negligible to put the country on track for Paris Agreement 1.5 ºC temperature limit. The Kingdom needs to adjust its energy policies to completely phase out fossil fuel consumption and production and expand investments in and speed up the implementation of renewable energy projects.

Despite being one of the world’s largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia has shown an increased interest in reducing its carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy and CCUS technologies. The country has been pursuing these goals through various policies and programs:

  1. Renewable Energy: The Saudi Vision 2030, introduced in 2016, aimed to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil. As part of this plan, the country aimed to produce 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Its primary renewable energy sources are solar and wind power.
  2. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCUS): Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, has invested in CCS technologies as part of its carbon management strategy. They have undertaken projects such as the Uthmaniyah CO2-EOR Demonstration Project, which captures carbon from their operations and injects it into oil fields to enhance oil recovery, thereby storing the carbon underground.

As for the specific costs and sustainability/ replicability of these initiatives, we can expect the following:

Costs: The costs associated with these initiatives are significant. Renewable energy projects require substantial capital investment, although the long-term operational costs can be lower than traditional energy sources. CCUS technologies are also expensive to develop, install, and operate. As of current estimates, the estimates of capturing CO2 vary widely, from $20 to $200 per ton, depending on the source and technology used.

Sustainability and Replicability: The sustainability of these initiatives will depend on their economic viability and the extent to which they can be integrated into the existing energy infrastructure. However, if successful, these initiatives could serve as a model for other oil-producing nations looking to reduce carbon emissions.

The long-term impact of emission reduction on these projects has yet to be observed.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Saudi Arabia Country Managers Abeer Aubdulkareem 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.