COP26 Climate Change Conference: is Saudi Arabia’s net zero pledge a breakthrough, or just a mirage?

COP26 Climate Change Conference: is Saudi Arabia’s net zero pledge a breakthrough, or just a mirage?

Water is sprayed over Muslim pilgrims to cool them down during the afternoon heat as they walk outside the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. With a climate that is already among the hottest on earth, Saudi Arabia has reason to fight global heating. Photo: AP

There is probably no country on Earth where the economy is more tied up with hydrocarbons than Saudi Arabia.

About 42 per cent of the Gulf state’s GDP is linked to oil and gas, according to a research centre linked to the authorities (the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre), while petroleum accounts for more than two-thirds of its exports.

So, amid a flurry of announcements ahead of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Saudi Arabia’s pledge to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2060 was particularly notable.

As the world grapples with the challenge of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the pledge from Saudi Arabia, which matches the 2060 commitments of China and Russia, could be seen as another milestone.

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