Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks at the G20 Riyadh Summit last year. The country's leader announced on Saturday that it would have net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. File Photo courtesy of EPA
Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia will reduce its carbon emissions to net-zero by 2060, the crown prince of the oil-exporting country said Saturday.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the country's long-term climate ambitions at the official launch of the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, the Saudi Gazette reported.
"We announce in this Forum, Saudi Arabia's road map for protecting the environment and confronting climate change," he said. "This annual forum will serve as a platform to launch our new environmental initiatives and monitor the impact of the previously announced ones."
As part of the initiative, he said the kingdom would change its energy mix and increase efficiency, while investing in new sources, such as hydrogen power.
Additionally, the kingdom will plant more than 450 million trees, rehabilitate 8 million hectares of degraded land and join a number of global initiatives intended to reduce pollution in oceans, he said.
Mohammed, the country's de facto ruler, said the initiative would reduce 278 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually, an increase from a previous target of 130 million metric tons.
Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman said the country would meet its goal by using carbon capture, technology that pulls the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, the BBC reported.
The announcement comes ahead of the COP26 meeting, a major climate conference that will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, next week. Documents leaked to the BBC show Saudi officials asked the United Nations to downplay the urgency to move away from fossil fuels.
Petroleum makes up about 87% of the kingdom's budget revenues, 42% of its GDP and 90% of export earnings, according to a 2018 report from Forbes. Saudi Arabia produced nearly 11 million barrels a day of oil in 2020, making it the world's second-largest exporter of oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
More than 100 countries have committed to the net-zero target. However, the BBC reported that the target only applies to domestic emissions, meaning Saudi Arabia will not need to reduce its oil and gas production.
Richard Black, senior associate at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, told the BBC that the kingdom would need to publish more details on how it would achieve its goals
"There's a lack of clarity ... it would be really good to see that stuff made clear," he said. He called the country's carbon-capture commitments "really speculative."