Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Boris Johnson Urges Saudi Crown Prince to Make Net-Zero Pledge

(Bloomberg) — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pressed Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader to follow neighboring petrostate the United Arab Emirates in pledging to eliminate its emissions.

“The prime minister hoped to see a net-zero commitment,” his office said Monday following a phone call between Johnson and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The U.K. is also seeking an “ambitious nationally determined contribution from Saudi Arabia,” it said, referring to pledges under the Paris climate agreement.

The UAE this month become the first of the Persian Gulf petrostates to commit to zeroing out emissions within its borders, and said it would invest almost $165 billion in clean energy by 2050. Johnson is now pushing Saudi Arabia to make a similar move ahead of key UN climate talks starting later this month.

The world’s biggest oil exporter has faced criticism that it’s acting too slowly on emissions, with research group Climate Action Tracker rating its policies as “critically insufficient.” The kingdom has pledged to stop burning oil in its local power plants by 2030 and instead use solar, wind and gas for the grid. But it also argues that the world will need oil for decades to come.

Saudi neighbor Qatar, the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, on Monday criticized nations that make net-zero pledges without having a proper plan in place to bring them to fruition. It also said that gas, a cleaner fuel than oil or coal, would remain crucial to the global economy for decades. 

Also see: U.K. Starts Trade Deal Process With Saudi Arabia, Gulf

Momentum is growing for international climate agreements ahead of the UN COP26 talks beginning Oct. 31 in Glasgow, Scotland. The U.S. and the European Union announced Monday that two dozen more countries have joined a global pact to pare methane output, meaning nations backing the pledge now represent about 30% of global emissions of the polluting gas.

The U.K.’s Johnson and the Saudi crown prince “agreed on the importance of G-20 countries making substantive progress on climate change and reducing emissions ahead of the COP26 Summit,” the prime minister’s office said. They also discussed opportunities for further trade and investment.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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