Saudi Arabia

Overall rating
Highly insufficient

Policies and action
against modelled domestic pathways

< 3°C World

NDC target
against modelled domestic pathways

Highly insufficient
< 4°C World

NDC target
against fair share

Critically insufficient
4°C+ World
Climate finance
Not assessed
Net zero target



Comprehensiveness not rated as

Information incomplete
Land use & forestry
Not significant

Historical emissions

Saudi Arabia’s historical emissions data (excluding LULUCF) is now based on the PRIMAP dataset, which provides data until 2019. In comparison, national inventory data from the UNFCCC only extends to 2012.

For the years 2020, we have used the following approach to estimate CO2 and non-CO2 emissions:

  • CO2 emissions are estimated using growth rates from the Global Carbon Budget data (Global Carbon Project, 2020), applying these to 2019 historical data.
  • For non-CO2 emissions in the energy sector, we have assumed the same growth rates as for CO2 data.
  • For non-CO2 emissions in other sectors, we extrapolate the last 5-year average from historical emissions, as we assume the impact of the pandemic to be smaller in non-energy sectors.

LULUCF values for 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2012 are still taken from the UNFCCC emissions inventory (2018), as in previous updates.

NDC and other targets

Updated NDC

As Saudi Arabia has not yet communicated the business as usual (BAU) range for its NDC target, we quantified the target based on a business as usual scenario developed by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC). The lower end of the BAU range reflects the KAPSARC BAU scenario, excluding land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). For the upper end of the range, we have assumed that LULUCF measures would contribute 200 MtCO2e of the total 278 MtCO2e emissions reductions in the NDC. This number is based on the announcements made at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum (SGI, 2021). In 2012, the latest year for which national data is available, the land use and forestry sink stood at just 9 MtCO2e, with forests covering a mere 0.5% of Saudi Arabia’s total land area in 2020.

The Global Warming Potential (GWP) values used for the NDC have not been communicated. We have assumed these to be expressed in either AR4 or SAR, and have included both calculations in our range.

Current policy projections

We use a business-as-usual (BAU) emissions scenario developed by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) as the basis for our current policy projections (KAPSARC, 2021), adjusted to our latest historical data. Given the slow progress on renewable energy deployment, we estimate the BAU scenario to best reflect current developments. The BAU scenario assumes 11 TWh of electricity generated with solar PV by 2030, which we estimate would translate to around 5–6 GW of solar PV capacity by 2030. Given that only 0.4 GW of renewable energy capacity had been installed by end of 2020, and that only few projects have been tendered since then, 5–6 GW of renewable capacity by 2030 is broadly in line with the current pace of deployment.

Planned policy projections

We use KAPSARC’s renewable energy scenario (“2030 MEIM RE target”) scenario for the upper end of our planned policies scenario (KAPSARC, 2021), adjusted to our latest historical data point. This scenario translates to about a 30% share of renewable energy in total electricity production by 2030, which we considered to be in line with the former Vision 2030 target to reach a 50% share of natural gas and renewable energy in electricity generation by 2030. We estimate a 30% share of renewable energy to be roughly in line with the 2019 Vision 2030 target of installing 57.8 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

The lower end of our planned policy projections reflects the 50% renewable energy and 50% natural gas in electricity production by 2030, as foreseen in the updated NDC and the Vision 2030 targets from October 2021. To do so, we calculate the difference in electricity sector emissions resulting from KAPSARC’s renewable energy scenario and the new NDC target of 50% natural gas and renewable energy, and subtract it from the upper end of our planned policies range.

COVID-19 impact

We applied a novel method to estimate the COVID-19 related dip in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 and the impacts through to 2030. We use our current and planned policy projections from 2020 to 2030, distil the emission intensity (GHG emissions/GDP) using GDP values from before the COVID-19 pandemic and apply to it most recent GDP projections from the IMF’s July 2021 World Economic Outlook Update for the year 2021 and the April 2021 Update for the years 2022–2026. For the years 2027–2030, we use the OECD’s pre COVID-19 long-term GDP growth projections.

Global Warming Potentials values

The CAT uses Global Warming Potential (GWP) values from the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) for all its figures and time series. Assessments completed prior to December 2018 (COP24) used GWP values from the Second Assessment Report (SAR).

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