Saudi Arabia’s CO2 emissions plunge 4.4%

Saudi CO2

RIYADH — Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Saudi Arabia have dramatically dropped in 2018, falling by 4.4% or 26 million tons (MtCO2) to 553 MtCO2 in 2018 from 579 MtCO2 in 2017, the most recent update by Enerdata revealed. The previous estimate was a 2.4% reduction (15 MtCO2).

Researchers at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) published an analysis based on the updated estimates, noting that Saudi Arabia moved up from being fourth to the third fastest reducer of emissions from fuel consumption among the G20 group of countries, behind Brazil and France and in front of Germany and Japan, which round out the top five.

“This new data shows that the impact of energy efficiency and energy price reforms in reducing wasteful energy use has been even greater than expected,” said Dr. Nicholas Howarth.

“Prior to 2016, CO2 emissions grew at over 5% each year. Seeing emissions now fall so strongly may come as a surprise to many.”

“It also comes as Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 where climate change is an important agenda item. It sets the stage well for the Kingdom to show leadership on the issue.

KAPSARC’s analysis shows that the rate of improvement in the energy intensity of Saudi Arabia’s economy was 5.5% in 2018, well above the global average of 1.2%.

According to Dr. Alessandro Lanza, “falling energy intensity was responsible for 81% of the emissions reductions, meaning more value is being created for every unit of energy consumed locally,” Dr Lanza said.

Thamir Alshehri said that a sharp fall in diesel consumption was the main reason for the additional fall in emissions.

“Emissions from the transport sector fell by an extra 10 MtCO2 than what was previously expected. This was due to diesel emissions falling by 19 MtCO2, or 43%, from 43.5 MtCO2 in 2017 to 24.5 MtCO2 in 2018.”

“In addition to lower fuel use from consumers, part of the explanation for this large drop may be a lower payoff due to higher local diesel prices for those who would buy the fuel in Saudi Arabia to illegally export to other countries,” KAPSARC’s analysis noted.

The industrial sector in Saudi Arabia consumes 2.1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, around 44% of the Kingdom’s total energy consumption (SEECa 2018). Enerdata’s updated figures for 2018 suggest industrial emissions in the manufacturing and construction sector from fuel combustion accounted for 238 MtCO2. Enerdata sources information on industrial emissions from chemical processes that release CO2 from UNIDO.

These emissions stood at 27 MtCO2 in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The three main industrial sectors, petrochemicals, cement and steel production, account for around 38%, 21% and 11% of total industrial energy consumption, respectively.

Buildings are the second largest consumer of energy in the Kingdom, accounting for around 29% of all energy consumed, or 1.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. Power demand is dominated by electricity demand from buildings, with residential buildings accounting for around 51% of the Kingdom’s total final electricity demand, followed by 35% for buildings in the commercial and service sectors. — SG