Saudi Arabia Checkup

Saudi Arabia—Falling Behind

The 2016 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) report concludes that Saudi Arabia has made no improvement in its overall ranking in the CCPI and places the country at the bottom of the ranking for lack of significant progress in the country’s exploiting its high potential for renewable energy instead of relying on its oil reserves. However, the report notes that the Kingdom has not blocked the Paris climate agreement.

Climate Action Tracker evaluates Saudi Arabia’s abatement target of reducing emissions by up to 130 MtCO2e in 2030 as stated in its Paris Agreement Pledge and rates this abatement target as  inadequate to make a fair contribution to keep global warming to below a  2 degree Celsius increase. It explains that this pledged abatement rate will result in an 840–1042 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF by 2030, a 70–110% increase above 2010 levels, or a 350–450% increase above 1990 levels which is insufficient to meet a minimum fair contribution to controlling global warming to 2 Celsius let alone the stronger Paris Agreement goal to 1.5 Celsius. It bases this conclusion on the uncertainty around Saudi Arabia’s targeted emissions level and the significant scaling down of its planned policies aimed at diversifying the energy mix and investments in renewable energy resources from 54 GW of renewable and 17 GW of nuclear energy by 2032 to 9.5 GW in 2023 and omitting the reference to nuclear power.

It seems that the extent to which Saudi Arabia is able to implement its proposed domestic emission reduction programs is dependent on the revenues it receives from its oil production. However, increased oil revenues means increased oil exports that will result in increased CO2 emissions in other countries.

Learn More

Burck, Jan, Franziska Marten, and Christoph Bals. 2016. Climate Change Performance Index, 2017 results. Germanwatch and Climate Action Network (CAN).
The Intended Nationally Determined Contribution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the UNFCCC
Climate Action Tracker

Saudi Arabia Emission Reduction Policy

Green Saudi Company for Carbon Services

In late February 2017, Saudi Arabia established the Green Saudi Company for Carbon Services. The mission of this organization is to develop and manage carbon emission reduction programs and sustainable development mechanism projects. It also will assist in the fight against environmental pollution in accordance with regional and international agreements and protocols and local regulations. The Company, a partnership between Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) and Petroleum, Chemicals & Mining Company Limited, a subsidiary of Saudi Binladen Group, represents a step forward for Saudi Arabia in its efforts to reduce emissions and control pollution. The Company seeks to help the government achieve its goals imbedded in the Kingdom Vision 2030 Plan and the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020.

The establishment of a Company solely focused on GHG emissions is significant for several reasons.  Top senior level policy leaders represented by the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, and other agencies concerned with clean energy support this initiative. Secondly, it shows the Saudi government is intent on implementing its commitment to the Paris Agreement.

The Green Saudi Company will develop clean energy and carbon reduction projects within the framework of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It also issues and markets renewable energy certificates (RECs) for national companies with clean energy projects.

Learn More

Green Saudi Company for Carbon Services Established. 2017. Zawya. February 20. Accessed from

Green Saudi Company for Carbon Services to Focus on Emissions Reduction. 2017. Gulf News Journal. March 2. Accessed from

Taha. Sharif. 2017. Saudi Electricity Company Signs a Pact with PCMC to Reduce Carbon Emissions. Arab News. February 22. Accessed from

Saudi Arabia Extreme Weather Event

Extreme Rainfall and Flash Flooding in Jeddah City

In 2009 and 2011, Jeddah City in the middle of the western region of Saudi Arabia experienced short, but intense rainfall events with rainfall precipitation values of 70 mml and 110 mml that led to flash floods. The World Bank climate adaptation expert, Balgis Osman-Elasha, defines an extreme rainfall event as one with “an intense rainfall and high quantities of rain (more than 90 millimeters) over a short span of time (four hours) over an area that normally receives 45 millimeters per year.” These flash floods had catastrophic consequences resulting in the death of 113 people in 2009 and damage to 10,000 houses and to 17,000 vehicles.

When analyzing the factors that led to the flash floods, rainfall and climate change factors played a major role contributing to the worsening of the flood disaster. Youssef et al.’s study in 2015 indicates a direct correlation between the magnitude and frequency of intense rainfall events and climate change. This result was reached by conducting a frequency analysis in which the maximum daily rainfall amount corresponding to a set of return periods of 25, 50, 100, and 200 years were calculated for the Jeddah city to determine the temporal effect of climate change on rainfall characteristics. These effects can include an increase or decrease in precipitation. A study using time-series data and descriptive statistics were used to determine the temporal trend in rainfall data and found a trend slope of 0.35, with a Pearson’s correlation coefficient (r) of 0.16, with a p-value of 0.36. These results indicate a moderate positive correlation of the annual maximum rainfall with increasing time. Based on this result, the precipitation was increased by about 27.8%. Thus, the study showed that the rainfall values changes and the increasing number of rainfall events are consequences of climatic changes. Many of the policy changes are in the form of recommendations such as conducting a detailed hydrological study of the recently-constructed human settlements that are along watercourses and at outlets downstream of wadis (valleys), and establishing a flash flood warning system for all areas that are subjected to flash floods.

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Climate Change to hit Saudi’s Agriculture, Water

Ahmed M. Youssef, Saleh A. Sefry, Biswajeet Pradhan & Emad Abu Alfadail (2016) Analysis on causes of flash flood in Jeddah city (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) of 2009 and 2011 using multi-sensor remote sensing data and GIS, Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk, 7:3, 1018-1042, DOI:

Saudi Arabia Media Organizations

Media organizations in Saudi Arabia don’t take a specific perspective towards climate change. Rather, they cover news of climate change activities in Saudi Arabia or other countries or publish scientific research on the impact of climate change on certain climate and geographical aspects (for example water shortage in Saudi Arabia) or specific climate change-related issues.

Broadcast Media

AlArabiya Television News channel is owned by Saudi Arabia. The current General Manager of Al Arabiya Television News channel is Turki Aldakhi who is a Saudi journalist and media figure.

Content Sample:

The title of an article published on Al Arabiya Television News channel on May 21, 2016 is, “Middle East could become “uninhabitable” due to climate change.”

The article warns that future climate change may destroy parts of the Middle East making it too hot for people to live in. Based on a study published by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia, the change in temperature levels in the region could increase more than twofold with deterioration in living conditions that would force people in the Middle East, where over 500 million people reside, to leave the area. This would lead to a dramatic increase in the numbers of climate refugees.

Contact: Al Arabiya News Channel, PO Box 72627,Dubai Media City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 4 391 9999

Print Media

King Abdul Aziz University, Center of Excellence in Climate Change Research (CECCR)

Content Sample:

King Abdulaziz University Magazine is issued by Saudi King Abdulaziz University, Meteorology, Environment, and Dry Areas Plantation, Center of Excellence in Climate Change Research.

Contact: Center of Excellence in Climate Change Researches (CECCR), PO Box 80208, Jeddah, 21589, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tel: + 966 2 6952690

Dr. Iqbal Ismail is the director of Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King AbdulAziz University, Email:, Tel (mobile): + 966 (2) 505644138

Online Media

Kawn (Universe): Abdullah al-Misnid’s website on geography and climate change

Kawn (Universe) website is owned by Abdullah al-Misnid who is an associate professor at the Department of Geography, al-Qasim University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There is no mailing address, but an online form to fill and submit.

Saudi Arabia Leaders and Opponents

Government Official
Khalid Al-Falih
Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

As the minister of energy, industry, and mineral resources, Mr. Al-Falih’s role is important in setting or influencing Saudi Arabia’s climate change policies.  He leads the Saudi Arabian delegation to COP 22 that comprises negotiators and subject matter experts that participate in various discussions and GCC Pavilion Side Events.


Climate Program Advocate
Khalid Abuleif
Saudi Arabia’s Chief Climate Negotiator for the Climate Agreements

Since 1991, Khalid Abduleif has been  a member of the country’s delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Currently, he is the Chief Adviser to the Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Minerals on Sustainability and Climate Policy. Mr. Abuleif is an expert on climate change policy and science. He has participated in the assessment work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), since 1990 and is highly knowledgeable on carbon management and carbon capture as he is leading the Kingdom’s team in the meetings of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum.

Contact: Mr. Abuleif’s Linkedin account

Climate Program Opponent
Dr. Khalid Abdulkader
Senior Consultant within the Environmental Protection Department of Aramco

Dr. Abdulkader has expertise in fishery resource enhancement. He represented Saudi Aramco’s interests at the COP22 negotiations and might have played a role in blocking certain language or aspects in the Saudi document that represented the official government position during the climate change negotiations held in Marrakech.


Saudi Arabia Leading Research Study

Research Study: “Implications of Climate Change on Water Resources in Saudi Arabia,” King Faisal University School of Petroleum and Minerals, Volume 18, Issue #8

The study examines the impact of climate change on climatic input parameters such as temperature, wind speed, precipitation, relative humidity, net radiation, and evapotranpiration, and their potential impact on water resources, agriculture, and water quality. The study predicts that climate change will lead to an average temperature increase of 1.8—4.1 Celsius between 2011 to 2050. The highest temperature change is expected to be in the northern part of the country due to the small bodies of water in this area. Average wind rates and range is predicted to show little change for the period from 2011 to 2050. The study predicts a regional and temporal variation in the rainfall levels across the country. The northern region will suffer from lower precipitation levels by 10mm/year (average) exacerbating the drought levels in that part of the country. Overall, relative humidity has decreased in Saudi Arabia and is projected to keep that pattern till 2050. The net radiation, which is the difference between incoming radiation toward the Earth and outgoing radiation from the Earth, was calculated for Saudi Arabia to be in the range of 7.4-9.4 h/day. The study predicts an increase in evapotranspiration (ET) by 10.3-27.4% throughout the country from 2011 to 2050. The southern parts of the country will experience the maximum increase ET. Surface water may become more vulnerable because of the increased ET by 2050.

The increased ET and consequent agricultural water demands along with the low rates of precipitation may increase the vulnerability of water resources in Saudi Arabia. The agricultural land accounts for 1% of the total area of the country and the main crops include winter wheat, dates, vegetables, and citrus fruits. Winter wheat crop production satisfies the total consumption demands of the country. Any negative effect on water resources due to climate change may threaten winter wheat production and reduce crop yields per acreage of land. Climate change appears to have only a minimal effect on deep aquifer water resources. Desalinated seawater satisfies most of the drinking water needs in the main cities of the Kingdom.

Summary of the main findings of the study:

1. Temperatures may increase by 1.8 – 4.1 Celsius across Saudi Arabia by the end of 2050
2. Evapotranspiration (ET) may increase from 0.245 m/year in 2011 to 0.368 m/year by 2050
3. Rainfall levels are inadequate to compensate for the lost water due to increased ET
4. There will be a loss of soil moisture due to the shortfall between precipitation and ET
5. An increase in agricultural water demands accompanied with the deep aquifer recharge and surface runoff may lead to lower agricultural productivity and quantity of production
6. High frequencies of longer summer periods may give rise to changes in soil organic matter

The recommendations of the study are:

1. Careful assessment of the increase in agricultural water demands plays an important role in understanding the water balance and designing better water resources management policy.
2. Incorporation of uncertainty can improve predictions on climate change implications for water resources and their quality that can inform future water management policy in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia faces a high degree of vulnerability exacerbated by climate change due to extremely low rainfalls, high evapotranspiration, and water scarcity. Saudi Arabia’s recognition of the national circumstances led to identifying water as a key to adaptation in their national climate action plans or Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted for the Paris Climate Agreement. Two types of policies and programs were included in their INDCs: Adaption with mitigation co-benefits and adaptation undertakings. Adaptation with mitigation co-benefits focus on increasing the reduction, recycling, and reuse of water and wastewater in the municipal, industrial, and commercial sectors in such a way that will significantly decrease energy consumption, desalinated water production and underground leakage. Adaptation undertakings would include new plans that will capture new sources of freshwater, construct additional dams for collection of drinking water and recharging of aquifers.

Learn More

Shakhawat Chowdhury and Muhammad Al-Zahrani. August 2013. “Implications of Climate Change on Water Resources in Saudi Arabia”. Research article, civil engineering, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Journal: Arabian Journal for Science and Technology, vol. 38, issue no. 8, pp. 1959- 1971.

Saudi Arabia Emissions Reduction Policy

Saudi Arabia: Fuel Economy Standards for Imported Vehicles; Insulation Standards for New Buildings; and Minimum Energy Standards for Air-Conditioners

The current Saudi Arabia national policy is focused on energy efficiency and a reduction in domestic oil consumption. The three pillars of the energy efficiency policy are fuel economy standards for imported vehicles by 2020, insulation standards for new buildings, and tightened minimum energy performance standards for air conditioners (IEA, 2014)

Fuel Economy Standards for Imported Vehicles

The beginning phase of introducing the fuel efficiency standards for new and used LDV gradually took effect in January 2016 and will be fully in effect on December 31, 2020. Overall, it is too early to evaluate its success. Tentatively, the plan and its targets will be reviewed by December 2018.

The Saudi Energy Efficiency Center (SEEC) has advocated for applying this policy and got the approval and commitment of more than 80 companies that represent 99% of vehicle sales in the Kingdom to implement Saudi fuel economy standards for LDV. Currently, this policy is being applied only to a used vehicle. It could be increased in capacity in the future to expand its scope of enforcement to apply to new cars.

Insulation standards for new buildings

The Kingdom has introduced industrial standards for buildings to be implemented voluntarily by stores and commercial buildings.

The insulation standards face some obstacles because the Saudi Building Code of 2007 is quite complicated, long and outdated. Currently, the Saudi Code is written in accordance with international standards on insulation of walls, roofs and floors that mostly suit EU and US weather conditions. The Saudi Code needs to be amended to accommodate the high heat index in the Kingdom.

The Insulation standards for new buildings policy was established by  the Saudi Energy Efficiency Centre (SEEC) at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), which is part of the Riyadh government’s efforts  to work on demand-side energy efficiency programs.
Tightened minimum energy performance standards for air conditioners (IEA, 2014

In September 2013 the Saudi government began to implement new appliance standards for air-conditioning units, both imported and locally produced. At the beginning of January 2014 these standards began to be implemented on appliance showrooms.

The new appliance standards for air-conditioning units, both imported and locally produced have been successful. As of 2014, 50,000 air conditioners that did not meet the country’s energy saving requirements had been removed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The tightened minimum energy performance standards for air conditioners are based on International Energy Agency policy that emphasizes sustainable energy practices to limit the energy consumption by introducing new technologies in ventilation and HVAC units.

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Saudi Arabia Ratification Status

Possibility of Ratification by 2018: Medium

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the largest producers and exporters of oil resources to the world. At the same time, Saudi Arabia consumes 490 million tons of carbon dioxide, 50% of the total consumption in the Arab World and 1.28% of the world consumption of fossil fuels. As for the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Kingdom has submitted a conditional pledge in November 2015 to cut down carbon dioxide emissions by 130 million tons. The Kingdom has not yet signed the document nor ratified it as of this date, but announced plans to sign the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) or what’s known as Paris Agreement before the Marrakesh COP22 climate summit that will take place in November 2016, as stated by the Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih.
In reference to Article 70 of the constitution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, “the King approves and signs international treaties.” Yet the King makes a decision based on recommendations submitted by the Bureau of Experts at the Council of Ministers, the regulatory authority in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that examines the international treaty body in consultation with Majlis al-Shura, the legislative part in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Abeer Abdulkareem


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