The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) will take place this November in Glasgow, with efforts already starting on ramping up the global transition to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Though Saudi Arabia is the largest oil exporter, it has launched the Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative, taking a proactive step in accelerating climate action ahead of COP26, which has been acknowledged and welcomed by the organizers.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 aims to create a more diverse and sustainable economy. During its presidency of the G20 last year, the Kingdom was a staunch advocate for technology, stressing the role innovation can play in reducing and eliminating emissions.
And Saudi Arabia is already focusing on the use of clean hydrocarbons and renewable energy, committing to generating half of its energy capacity from renewable sources by 2030, with the remainder coming from gas.
This goal has helped raise the level of environmental awareness in the Kingdom and has led to increased international cooperation, all key solutions in reaching the country’s climate change objectives.
One of Saudi Arabia’s key goals and strategies as part of Vision 2030 is for the Kingdom to develop an effective and cost-efficient energy mix. The Kingdom is not expecting to use renewable energy as a competitor with fossil fuels such as oil and gas, but rather to complement them.
The question remains, how will COP26 respond to the International Energy Agency after its controversial 200-page report stating that there is no need for any future investments in fossil fuels to move towards carbon zero by 2050?
Can the world survive without fossil fuels in the long-term? Will this minimal change in the energy mix in a decade drive us to a net zero emissions in 2050?
The answer is clear: The vast majority of energy consumption comes from fossil fuels — and not much has changed in the last 10 years — so the world will not reach the net zero emissions from fossil fuels without a rapid scale-up of renewables. This is still too challenging to reach in the short-term.
Faisal Faeq is an energy and oil marketing adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco.