Saudi Arabia says aiming for zero carbon emissions by 2060

Top crude exporter Saudi Arabia will aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060, its de facto ruler said Saturday, days before the COP26 global climate summit.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman delivers a speech at the opening of the "Saudi Green Initiative" forum in Riyadh. (Photo: AFP)

The kingdom, one of the world's biggest polluters, said it would also join a global effort to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

"I announce today Saudi Arabia's target to reach net zero emissions by 2060 through its circular carbon economy approach," said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a recorded statement at the "Saudi Green Initiative" forum.

"I am pleased to launch initiatives in the energy sector that will reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes annually by 2030, thus voluntarily more than doubling the target announced, estimated at 130 million tonnes annually," said Prince Mohammed.

"We also announce the kingdom's accession to the Global Methane Pledge," he added.

A statement said Saudi Arabia would "contribute to cutting global methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030, as part of its commitment to deliver a cleaner, greener future".

The announcements come a day after UN chief Antonio Guterres said the current climate situation was "a one-way ticket for disaster", stressing the need to "avoid a failure" at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Held between October 31 and November 12, the gathering in the Scottish city is seen as a crucial step in setting worldwide emission targets to slow global warming.

In March, Saudi Arabia unveiled a sweeping campaign to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions, including a plan to plant billions of trees in the coming decades.

The OPEC kingpin aims to reduce emissions by generating half of its energy from renewables by 2030, Prince Mohammed said at the time.

Saudi Arabia currently draws on oil and natural gas to both meet its own fast-growing power demand and desalinate its water -- which consumes huge quantities of oil daily.

The initiatives come as energy giant Saudi Aramco, the kingdom's cash cow, faces scrutiny from investors over its emissions.