Saudi Net Zero 2060: Action plan for innovation and growth opportunity

By: Katarina Uherova Hasbani

Date Published: March 18, 2022

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2060 might seem far away from 2022. Yet, 38 years is short to change the course of a country or an economy and to make it net zero carbon. The Decarbonisation roadmap for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)  will entail initiatives to create frameworks and ecosystems that encourage carbon reduction. The building blocks of this transformation can start as of now, while the country still continues valorisation of its oil and gas resources in the most efficient manner as described recently by Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman, Saudi Energy Minister.

Our team at AESG has come up with a five point action plan of immediate priorities that companies and government entities in KSA can address right now.

1. Map out carbon footprint to educate and identify hotspots

You can’t manage what you can’t measure so identifying carbon footprint is the first stop on a net zero carbon journey of every organization. Starting early, the mapping does not require perfection. It requires a baseline and roadmap with recommendations for improvements. These recommendations are based on carbon hotspots or areas of the organizations’ operations that generate the most carbon emissions and offer the largest percentage of carbon reduction. For example, electricity procurement is one of these hotspots that can be targeted via procurement of renewable, zero carbon electricity. Petrol fueled vehicles can be switched to electric. In processes, carbon reduction can be achieved via efficiency, etc. For example Saudi Aramco reports on Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions from wholly owned by and operated assets and gas identified several initiatives to manage its carbon footprint which are listed on its website.

2. Use financing as a route to better understanding of carbon footprint and implementing specific carbon reduction actions

For organizations in the finance industry, with the mandate to make award decisions, integrating a requirement to report and reduce carbon emissions offers an opportunity to take actions. Banks, funds and various financial vehicles may introduce requirements in their application process. They may also offer support via training and capacity building to upgrade skills and resources for carbon management with the recipients of their financing. In this way, the financiers play the role of a multiplier. Those that are government owned and run directly implement the government announced 2060 net zero target. As an example that could have local relevance, the European Investment Bank is implementing sustainability due diligence which included environmental and social appraisal of projects and economic appraisal that evaluate benefits and costs to the society as a whole.

3. Improve and implement standards on buildings, infrastructure and equipment that impact carbon emissions

Managing and reporting carbon footprint might be a new theme and it is anchored in several decades of practice in the area of energy efficiency. Improvements of standards for new buildings, infrastructure and equipment yields carbon reduction. Standards impact both embedded and operational emissions and can be a powerful tool to progressively shift the market in the direction of lower carbon footprint. In addition, for existing buildings, infrastructure and equipment, upgrades and retrofits can drive decarbonisation efforts. Tarshid, Saudi National Energy Services Company, The Saudi Building Code and The Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization are some examples of government bodies involved in these efforts which can be taken forward under the Saudi Net Zero 2060 initiative.

4. Design and implement tools and business process that create a breeding ground for decarbonisation

In order to integrate decarbonisation, organizations in private and public sectors require specific processes, tools and training to build up carbon knowledge and capability. AESG is assisting them by reviewing their current set-up, developing and integrating carbon reduction in their core business. Some examples of what organizations require are

  • Carbon footprint and tracking tools
  • Carbon reduction decision making tools
  • Sustainable procurement systems
  • Carbon reduction guidelines and
  • Carbon reduction awareness and training roadmaps

As an example of sustainable procurement, UAE’s Aldar has embedded sustainability in their business process and screens suppliers’ social and environmental performance.

5. Encourage innovation via government and startup accelerators and programmes

Reaching net zero by 2060 will require identification and implementation of innovative moonshot projects that offer substantial carbon reduction opportunities. The International Energy Agency identified a number of these opportunities for the energy value chain including hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, direct air capture. Others are related to the embedded carbon, including zero carbon cement, steel and other materials used for our buildings, assets and major industrial equipment. There are areas that we haven’t identified because we don’t know, we haven’t discovered them yet and those can emerge from persistent and systematic innovation activity. Moreover, innovation activity can also contribute to improving the already existing solutions: Renewables, energy efficiency, energy storage, design and construction processes for built and infrastructure environments. KSA is already a member of Mission Innovation started in 2015 following the Paris Agreement, which pursues number of initiatives with KSA relevance such as “IC7 is a global ‘innovation community’ focused on low carbon affordable heating and cooling of buildings”. Now, with its own Net Zero announcement, KSA has an opportunity to pursue a Mission Innovation of its own to instigate local solutions to its decarbonisation challenge.

Saudi Arabia’s sustainability journey and related announcements, sorted from oldest news to most recent news:

·       Saudi vision 2030

·       Saudi Arabia launches renewable energy initiative – 2017

·       Launch of Green Riyadh project

·       World’s Largest Green Hydrogen Project Unveiled in Saudi Arabia

·       Air Products, Acwa Power and Neom Sign Agreement for Global Green Hydrogen facility

·       Saudi Arabia to Ship Gas to South Korea and Take Back the Co2

·       Saudi Arabia aims for 50% renewable energy by 2030

·       Saudi Arabia is set to be a major player in hydrogen

·       Saudi Arabia to launch regional carbon trading platform

·       PIF-owned SIRC targets zero-waste ‘Circular Economy’ by 2035

·       Saudi Arabia UNFCC 2021 submission

·       Saudi Arabia to start electric-vehicle push in Riyadh

·       Saudi Aramco aims to achieve net-zero emissions from operations by 2050: CEO

·       Saudi Arabia’s methane pledge is a big step forward in fight against climate change

·       Saudi Arabia’s Green Initiative plan for net zero emissions explained

·       Saudi Arabia wants to be top supplier of hydrogen – energy minister

·       Saudi Arabia pledges net zero by 2060

·       Saudi Arabia outlines plans under Mideast Green Initiative

·       The Saudi Green Initiative

·       Saudi Arabia to establish investment fund to combat climate change in the region

·       Saudi Arabia poised to tap $110bn Jafurah gas project for blue hydrogen

·       Saudi Aramco plans new green hydrogen, ammonia project

·       Saudi Arabia’s Hydrogen Industrial Strategy

·       Saudi Aramco sets out plan to produce hydrogen-powered vehicles

·       Saudi Arabia to consider producing nuclear-powered hydrogen: energy minister

·       Saudi Arabia to develop hydrogen fuel cell-based transport, sustainable jet fuel

How can AESG help?

AESG is a specialist consultancy, engineering and advisory firm headquartered in London, Dubai, Riyadh and Singapore working on projects throughout Europe, Asia and Middle East. We pride ourselves as industry leaders in each of the services that we offer. We have one of the largest dedicated teams with decades of cumulative experience in sustainable design, fire and life safety, façade engineering, commissioning, data management for the built environment, waste management, environmental consultancy, acoustics, strategy and advisory and carbon management.

Katarina Uherova Hasbani 

Partner and Global Director of Strategy and Advisory, AESG

Katarina Uherova Hasbani is AESG’s Partner and Global Director of our Strategy and Advisory division.

Katarina is an energy transition and sustainability professional with comprehensive experience in leadership positions across the value chain of the energy industry, encompassing utilities, oil and gas and renewables and large energy users. She has proven experience as an effective leader of global cross-functional teams and has spent 18 years designing strategies, public policies and implementing transformation projects across more than 30 countries in the Middle East, South-East Asia and Europe. Katarina covered cross-cutting themes shaping energy transition, including net zero, climate change, environmental protection, and sustainability.

She is an active public speaker and has authored a variety of studies on energy transition and decarbonisation. She is active in industry associations and is also currently a member of the Global Executive Committee for Insead Energy Alumni Club and local UAE Insead Alumni Association. Katarina mentors actively to promote balanced leadership among her industry peers and young professionals.

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