A dozen companies from Saudi Arabia bought more than 2.2 million tonnes of carbon credits on Wednesday as the Kenyan capital hosted what organizers have billed as the world’s largest sale. Demand for carbon offsets, generated through projects such as tree planting or using cleaner cooking fuel, is expected to grow as companies seek to use them to help meet net-zero emissions goals.
The auction was hosted by the Regional Voluntary Carbon Market Company, a firm established by the Public Investment Fund and Saudi Tadawul Group. The company chose to hold the auction in Nairobi because although the East African nation is a small polluter, it has been hit by climate change in recent years with devastating droughts that killed crops and livestock.
RVCMC’s auctions offer high-quality, CORSIA-eligible, and Verra-registered carbon credits that can be used by buyers from a broad range of industries to reduce their emissions. The auctions have a crucial role in PIF’s broader efforts to support investments and innovation to help Saudi Arabia reach its ambitious net zero emissions goal by 2060, it said.
“Saudi Arabia’s decision to aim for net zero emissions is a significant step, and we welcome the commitment as part of a global effort to curb man-made climate change,” the firm said in a statement. “We are confident that the UAE and other countries in the region will follow suit,” it added, referring to the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged to cut their greenhouse gases by between 90 and 95% below 1990 levels by 2040. The UAE also plans to target 100% renewable energy by 2050.
But the UAE’s plan to increase its power generation from renewable sources may make it more challenging to achieve its goal. Most of the UAE’s electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels such as oil and gas. The country will need to significantly reduce its oil and gas production if it wants to switch entirely to renewables, which will take time and money.
The UAE’s plan to reduce its emissions could be complicated because it has many untapped fossil fuel reserves. Unless it can quickly ramp up its renewable energy capacity, it could run out of oil and gas by 2040, limiting its ability to switch over to alternative energies.