Saudi Arabia’s Contribution to Climate Change


Saudi Arabia mainly emits carbon dioxide through the burning of liquids and gases.  Most likely petroleum and natural gas.  Solids and cement have never really risen too much throughout its history but flaring has had a wild ride.  In the mid to late 1960’s it had a sudden rise and then fell to its normal level in the mid 1980’s.  According to flaring is the burning off of unwanted gas or flammable gas/liquids released by pressure relief valves in oil wells, oil rigs, and refineries.  My prediction as to why flaring had this sudden rise and fall is probably due to old oil refineries that were not so environmentally friendly.  Another thing I noticed is that they didn’t emit significant levels of carbon dioxide until the mid 1960’s.  Vast oil reserves were discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938 so it makes sense that in the coming few years CO2 levels would begin to increase.


Saudi Arabia’s per capita carbon dioxide emissions estimate for 2008 is 4.7 compared to the U.S. which sits at 4.9 metric tons of carbon.  If you take Saudi Arabia’s value and divide that by the U.S.’s you will note that the percentage of emissions compared to the U.S. is 0.96 percent (4.7/4.9).  As you might already noticed the U.S. has a slightly higher per capita emissions than Saudi Arabia.  This is probably due to the fact the United States has a population 11 times bigger than that of Saudi Arabia (Population: Saudi Arabia 26,534,504; U.S. 307,006,550).  Both countries are well-developed and have a some what good economy compared to the rest of the world so it doesn’t surprise me to see that their per capita emissions are very similar.

Saudi Arabia ranks 13 based on per capita CO2 emissions for the world’s countries.  The United States ranks 12.  This shocks me a little but when you think about it it makes total sense because Saudi Arabia is an oil-based economy and is the worlds largest exporter of petroleum.  On the other hand this sort of comes to me as a surprise because I used to think that Saudi Arabia was an impoverished country but now I know that’s not true.  These revealing fact just makes me mad that the United State and the world in general are not pushing for more renewable, clean energy.  We need to reduce our dependency on oil and start developing new ways to reduce CO2 emissions fast before things get out hand.


Saudi Arabia does not contribute to as much carbon emissions compared to the United States and China.  Its total fossil fuel emissions for 2008 is less than 250,000 thousand metric tons of carbon while the U.S. and China, two of the biggest emitters of CO2, are reaching emission levels of more than 1,500,000 tmt.  India is beginning to increase their emissions count as are all other countries but at a much faster rate.  One thing that is very surprising to me is that Italy’s carbon emissions is slightly higher than Saudi Arabia.  Italy does have a bigger population than Saudi Arabia but they do drive smaller, more fuel-efficient cars over there so the fact that their emissions is higher doesn’t make sense to me.

The United States has a populations of 312,000,000 while China has 1,338,000,000 people living in its country.  On a per capita basis, China is more at fault for emitting CO2 than the U.S. (China: 1.43 per capita CO2 * 1,338,000,000= 1,913,340,000; U.S.: 4.90 per capita CO2 * 312,000,000= 1,528,800,000).  But if you take into account a country’s cumulative contribution to climate change from 1900 thru 2008 however, the United States is responsible for the most CO2 emissions than any other nation (91,229,888 thousand metric tons of carbon).  China has emitted 31,793,558 tmt, India 9,151,461 tmt, Italy 5,364,817 tmt, Kenya 80,124 tmt, and Saudi Arabia 2,371,055 tmt.  As you can see Saudi Arabia is one of the least responsible cumulative CO2 emiters out of these countries.

China’s percentage of cumulative emissions compared to the U.S. is 0.35 percent (31,793,558 tmt/91,229,888 tmt).  India’s percentage of cumulative emissions compared to the U.S. is 0.10 percent (9,151,461 tmt/91,229,888 tmt).


It is important to note the difference between carbon emissions and carbon dioxide concentrations.  Carbon emissions is the amount of greenhouse gases discharged into the atmosphere while carbon dioxide concentrations is the amount of CO2 discharged in the atmosphere.  The keeling curve graph and global emissions of carbon graph both have similar upward sloped curves.  This is due to the fact that as time passes by the amount of greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, increase in our atmosphere.

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2 Responses to Saudi Arabia’s Contribution to Climate Change

  1. jmill258 says:

    You’re information was very clear and well thought out! . I Thought that it was interesting that the united states and Saudi Arabia have similar emission realease values but the United States is 11x bigger. It was also interesting that Saudia Arabia was on the lower end of CO2 emissions compared to the other countries. Where you said that Italy has a higher emission rate than Saudia Arabia was a good questionable fact. It makes me wonder why that is too. Great work!

  2. tfittje says:

    Compared to most other countries this one is not too great of an emitter, but it does produce a lot of fossil fuels and contributes to others emitting levels.

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