On Wednesday, Saudi oil and gas company Aramco unveiled a $ 1.5 billion fund for sustainable investments, part of efforts to strengthen the state-owned company’s green credentials in an announcement ahead of the UN climate conference next month. in Egypt.
Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said at an investment conference in Saudi Arabia that the fund will focus on “breakthrough technologies that are important and startups that will help us tackle climate change.”
Nasser ranked the fund as one of the largest sustainability-focused venture capital funds in the world and said it will invest globally and launch immediately. He spoke at the meeting of Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative, sometimes known as “Davos in the Desert,” a confrontation with the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting of bigwigs and world leaders in the Swiss Alps.
Aramco is one of the largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters. Environmentalists have long accused oil and gas companies of using climate-friendly commitments to “wash the green” of their polluting businesses.
One area that Aramco’s bottom will focus on is carbon capture and storage, which involves sucking up heat-trapping carbon dioxide from factory chimneys and storing it underground.
Climate experts, however, warn that the technology is risky, unproven and expensive and could be used to delay the phasing out of fossil fuels. Others argue that all untested solutions should be pursued given the little time left to meet the UN emissions reduction targets.
Other investment themes addressed by the fund include greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, nature-based climate solutions, digital sustainability, hydrogen, ammonia and synthetic fuels.
Aramco is committed to achieving zero net operational emissions by 2050, but this represents only a fraction of the company’s total emissions. It does not include the carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels that the company produces.
Oil companies have used “‘net zero by 2050’ green promises” to justify technological solutions that will allow them to “continue to mine and sell oil and gas,” said Pascoe Sabido, an energy and climate researcher at the Corporate Europe Observatory, which investigates the commercial lobbies of the European Union.
“Aramco’s sustainability fund has nothing to do with fighting climate change and has everything to do with extending the life of its fossil fuel business,” he said.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has tried to diversify the economy away from oil revenues, although the government continues to rely heavily on crude exports.
The UN climate conference, known as COP27, will hold negotiations aimed at limiting global temperature rise next month in Egypt’s Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
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