Saudi Arabia names senior diplomat as 1st climate envoy

AFP , Sunday 29 May 2022

Saudi Arabia announced Sunday it had named a senior diplomat as its first climate envoy, as officials vow to ramp up oil production while pursuing ambitious goals for emission cuts.

 Adel al-Jubeir
Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir. AP


The appointment of Adel al-Jubeir, the minister of state for foreign affairs, to the envoy role was announced as part of a series of royal orders decreed by King Salman.

The announcement did not include details about the envoy's mandate.

Jubeir, who previously served as foreign minister and ambassador to Washington, will continue in his role at the foreign ministry.

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, has been cashing in on the spike in energy prices resulting from Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

In early May, the kingdom announced that economic growth in the first quarter had risen 9.6 percent compared to the same period in 2021, which the statistics authority said represented "the highest growth rate in (the) last 10 years".

It has resisted US entreaties to raise oil output in an attempt to bring prices down in the wake of the Ukraine war, instead stressing its commitment to the OPEC+ oil alliance, which Riyadh and Moscow lead.

Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said earlier this month that the country expected to ramp up its daily oil production capacity by more than one million barrels to exceed 13 million barrels by 2027.

Yet last year, Saudi Arabia pledged ahead of the COP26 climate change summit to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060, sparking scepticism from environmental campaign group Greenpeace.

With increasing urgency to limit global warming, experts warn of the need to reduce fossil fuel use.

Speaking on a panel last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Saudi economy minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim disputed the notion that his country's policies were in conflict.

"We will continue to advocate increased capacity. We will also continue to advocate... reducing emissions," he said.

"These two points do not contradict each other. The last thing we want is focusing on climate change without focusing on energy security."

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