Saudi Aramco, the world's largest energy company, is also one of the world's biggest contributors to greenhouse gases in the world.
In a report published by The Guardian on Wednesday, the state-owned oil giant ranked among the top 20 oil companies contributing to climate change. Of the total number of companies, six are owned by countries in the Middle East. Together, the 20 companies have contributed to 35 percent of all energy-related carbon dioxide and methane worldwide, as highlighted by the British daily, since 1965.
The report is based on an analysis conducted by Richard Heede at the U.S.-based Climate Accountability Institute, a leading authority on oil companies' adverse effects on the climate. In his analysis, Heede looked at what the corporations extracted from the ground and the subsequent emissions the fossil fuels were responsible for over a period of time.
The companies on the list include both investor-owned and state-owned firms. Saudi Aramco topped the list. It was described as the "leading state-owned polluter," responsible for 4.38 percent of the total emissions reported in the period studied. The oil giant generated a revenue of $355.9 billion last year by producing the equivalent of 13.6m barrels of oil a day in greenhouse gases. Other companies include Chevron, Exxon, BP, and Shell.
"These companies and their products are substantially responsible for the climate emergency, have collectively delayed national and global action for decades, and can no longer hide behind the smokescreen that consumers are the responsible parties," Heede said, according to The Guardian.
Explaining why 1965 was chosen as the starting point for the analysis, Heede said research revealed that it was the year when industry leaders and politicians became aware of the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.
Currently, less than 1 percent of Saudi Arabia's energy is renewable and nearly all of the kingdom's domestic power currently comes from crude, refined oil, or natural gas. The country continues to be one of the major CO2 emitters per capita with numbers equivalent to "15.94 tons per person."
Earlier this year, the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) - which breaks down the efforts of 60 different countries in the fight against climate change - ranked Saudi Arabia at the bottom of its list. The kingdom scored 8 out of 100 on the index.
Saudi Arabia has been putting effort into changing this. It aims to produce 10 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. However, it has not adopted emission reduction targets, according to the CCPI report.
In 2017, the kingdom's energy minister Khaled al-Falih revealed the kingdom's plans to invest tens of billions in renewable energy sources. Al-Falih explained that the kingdom is seeking to "become a nation that develops, manufactures and exports the advanced technologies of renewable energy production."
Several initiatives have materialized in the renewable space. Associate Professor Peng Wang and a team of scientists at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) actually developed a three-stage membrane distillation device that would allow them to harness the heat waste from solar panels. This device could then distill and purify saltwater, producing a high fresh water rate.