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Saudi works to boost oil demand despite climate pledges: Report

BI Desk || BusinessInsider

Published: 00:23, 29 November 2023  
Saudi works to boost oil demand despite climate pledges: Report

Photo: Collected

Saudi Arabia is working "to artificially stimulate oil demand" even as it publicly backs a transition away from fossil fuels, a report said ahead of COP28 climate talks in Dubai.

The report, published Monday by the Centre for Climate Reporting and Britain's Channel 4 News, focuses on the Gulf kingdom's Oil Sustainability Program (OSP), launched in 2020 to ensure hydrocarbons "remain part of the global energy mix in the most efficient and sustainable way", according to its website.

The report paints a different picture, contending the OSP -- which in Arabic is known as the Oil Demand Sustainability Program -- works to maximise use of oil-consuming vehicles in Asia and Africa, reports BSS/AFP.

Authorities from the world's biggest oil exporter are also, according to the report, backing fuel-intensive supersonic air travel, lobbying against government subsidies for electric vehicles and promoting energy infrastructure in developing countries that would run on Saudi oil.

The report was published days before COP28 talks kick off on Thursday in Dubai, where major oil producers will be under pressure to adopt clear language backing a move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The OSP "aims to boost oil consumption across Asia and Africa, with the ultimate goal of protecting Saudi oil revenues from efforts to phase out fossil fuels", the report said.

In a call with undercover reporters included in the report, an official from the OSP, asked whether its goal is to "artificially stimulate demand in some key markets", responds that this is "one of the main objectives that we are trying to accomplish".

Saudi authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

De facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 reform agenda is intended to diversify the economy away from fossil fuels, and Riyadh announced in 2021 it was targeting net zero emissions by 2060.

However, Saudi officials also argue that continued new investments in hydrocarbons are necessary for energy stability.

Speaking this month at a Saudi-hosted conference on economic cooperation with Africa, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said policies to address climate change should not "crush the bones" of countries grappling with energy poverty.

He argued that more should be done to help the estimated 800 million people globally who don't have steady access to electricity.

The conference featured signing ceremonies on energy agreements with Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal and Chad, though no details were provided.