Saudi Arabia is taking several steps to reduce its dependence on oil and mitigate the negative consequences of climate change, according to a new state news agency report. The kingdom’s energy minister announced a 30 percent reduction in energy use over the next 15 years, which will reduce by $20 billion the country’s current fuel bills and carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the kingdom is reducing petroleum exports by 7 percent per year and is aiming to achieve a “carbon neutral economy” by 2060, reported the Associated Press.
King Salman announced the goals, which include the elimination of all diesel and gasoline subsidies, an ongoing effort to increase energy efficiency, and allowing residential units to run on renewable energy. That plan was recently included in the kingdom’s five-year national energy development plan. The plan was published by the Saudi Press Agency on Sunday, which appeared on the same day Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman addressed a conference in New York on climate change and renewable energy.
“We know that every move we make will not be easy but this decision will be better for Saudi Arabia and all mankind and we will be the first in the region and in the world to make these efforts,” the crown prince said.
The plan has received some criticism from environmentalists, who say the climate plan is still too shortsighted. The UN recently released an analysis of the energy plan’s long-term goals, and said that it only targets 2030, much further out than many would like.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s biggest oil producers, but it has struggled to diversify its economy. Officials in the country have said the surge in oil prices is slowing in the years ahead, which could impact how the plan is implemented.
Saudi Arabia hopes it will be better positioned in the world as the global debate over climate change continues.
Statements from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in New York at the UN climate change conference
The ongoing power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Qatar