January 16, 2019: Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia called Tuesday for a “fair” and gradual global energy transition as it unveiled an ambitious domestic renewable energy programme.
Experts say energy output from renewables, especially solar and wind, is growing faster than anticipated, threatening to displace oil, gas and coal as the world's main sources of power.
But Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told a clean energy conference in Abu Dhabi that the transition must take place gradually in order to avoid “chaos”.
“Balancing greenhouse gas emissions will take decades,” he said at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
“It's not going to be done overnight. In the interim, ample and reliable energy sources like oil and gas will need to be made available or (the world will) risk chaos.”
Unveiling Saudi Arabia's clean energy programme, he said the kingdom plans to create “a global hub of renewable energy capability” over the coming decades, producing upward of 200 gigawatts of power.
Falih proposed a strategy of gradually improving the quality of fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time as increasing renewable energy consumption.
“We urgently need consensus around an energy transition strategy that is realistic, fair and pragmatic, driven by economics and technology, not a blind ideology,” he said.