RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has become the third-fastest reducer of emissions from fuel consumption among G20 countries, according to latest figures.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the Kingdom fell by almost double the predicted amount during 2018, the most up-to-date statistics from Enerdata have revealed.
Data for the year showed a 4.4 percent or 26 million tons (MtCO2) fall in emissions in the country, down from 579 MtCO2 in 2017 to 553 MtCO2 in 2018. Previous estimates had put the reduction at 2.4 percent (15 MtCO2).
The results moved Saudi Arabia up from being fourth to the third-fastest reducer of emissions from fuel consumption among the top-five G20 group of countries, behind Brazil and France and in front of Germany and Japan.
Researchers at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) have published an analysis based on the updated estimates.
“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, a researcher at KAPSARC.
“Prior to 2016, CO2 emissions grew at over 5 percent each year. Seeing emissions now fall so strongly may come as a surprise to many.
“It also comes as Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit, where climate change is an important agenda item. It sets the stage well for the Kingdom to show leadership on the issue,” he added.
KAPSARC’s study findings showed that the rate of improvement in the energy intensity of Saudi Arabia’s economy was 5.5 percent in 2018, well above the global average of 1.2 percent.
Dr. Alessandro Lanza, another KAPSARC researcher, said: “Falling energy intensity was responsible for 81 percent of the emissions reductions, meaning more value is being created for every unit of energy consumed locally.”
According to researcher Thamir Al-Shehri, a sharp fall in diesel consumption was the main reason for the additional drop in emission levels.
“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 percent, 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,” added Al-Shehri.