Saudi Arabia 3rd-fastest reducer of fuel emissions among G20 nations

Carbon dioxide emissions in Saudi Arabia fell by almost double the predicted amount during 2018, the most up-to-date statistics from Enerdata have revealed. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 04 February 2020

Saudi Arabia 3rd-fastest reducer of fuel emissions among G20 nations

  • CO2 emissions in the Kingdom fell by almost double the predicted amount during 2018

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.


IMF slashes Middle East and Central Asia growth forecasts

Updated 13 July 2020

IMF slashes Middle East and Central Asia growth forecasts

  • The region will see real gross domestic product fall by 4.7 percent this year
  • Overall growth revision was led by subdued activity among oil exporters

DUBAI: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised downwards its growth projections for the Middle East and Central Asia as economies were hurt worse than expected by the double blow of lower oil prices and the coronavirus crisis.
The region, which includes around 30 countries spanning from Mauritania to Kazakhstan, will see real, or inflation-adjusted, gross domestic product (GDP) fall by 4.7 percent this year, 2 percentage points lower than IMF forecasts in April, the fund said in a report on Monday.
The pandemic has hit sectors such as tourism and trade, while low oil prices and crude production cuts have strained the finances of regional oil exporters and impacted remittances.
“These factors have led to a stronger-than-anticipated impact on activity in the first half of 2020, and the recovery is expected to be more gradual than previously forecast, in line with a weaker global recovery,” the IMF said.
After portfolio outflows estimated at between $6 billion and $8 billion in March alone, uncertainty around the length of the pandemic could expose the region to further market volatility and curb governments’ ability to refinance some $21 billion in debt due in the second half of this year, said the fund.
Worsening inequality and rising unemployment could trigger social unrest and political instability, while a potential decline in expatriate workers — often the large majority of the workforce in oil-exporting countries — could dampen recovery.
The overall growth revision was led by subdued activity among oil exporters in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, and Afghanistan region, with oil export receipts expected to decline by over $270 billion this year compared with 2019.
Growth in the Caucasus and Central Asia was revised to a smaller extent, partly because of lower oil production cuts.
Energy producers in the Gulf will see real GDP fall by 7.1 percent this year, down from April forecasts of a drop of nearly 3 percent, the fund estimates, but slightly less than the 7.6 percent contraction the IMF had predicted at the end of June.
“Some of the high-frequency indicators that came showed a better second quarter for certain countries and therefore we have adjusted upward our projections. This is because of some improvement in the non-oil sector,” Jihad Azour, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, said.