* Doubles target to reduce carbon emissions
* Saudi initiative to see investment of $187 bln
* To tackle climate change while ensuring oil market
* Could hit target before 2060, energy minister says
RIYADH, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's crown prince said
on Saturday that the world's top oil exporter aims to reach "net
zero" emissions of greenhouse gases, mostly produced by burning
fossil fuels, by 2060 - 10 years later than the United States.
He also said it would double the emissions cuts it plans to
achieve by 2030.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his energy minister
said Saudi Arabia would tackle climate change, but also stressed
the continued importance of hydrocarbons and said it would
continue to ensure oil market stability.
They were speaking at the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) ahead
of COP26, the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow at
the end of the month, which hopes to agree deeper global
emissions cuts to tackle global warming.
The United States, the world's second-biggest emitter, is
committed to achieving net zero, meaning that it emits no more
greenhouse gases than it can capture or absorb, by 2050. But
China and India, the world's biggest and third-biggest emitters,
have not committed to this timeline.
Amin Nasser, chief executive of the state oil giant Saudi
Aramco, said it was counterproductive to "demonise"
hydrocarbons. He said Aramco aimed to expand its oil and gas
production capacity while also achieving net zero emissions from
its own operations by 2050.
He called for more global investment to ensure adequate
crude oil supplies.
Prince Mohammed said in recorded remarks that the kingdom
aimed to reach net zero by 2060 under its circular carbon
economy programme, "while maintaining its leading role in
strengthening security and stability of global oil markets".
He said Saudi Arabia would join a global initiative on
slashing emissions of methane by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030,
which both the United States and the EU have been pressing.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in a phone call
with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, welcomed the kingdom's
initiatives to reduce emissions, state media said.
'HYDROCARBONS STILL NEEDED'
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is due to attend a wider
Middle East green summit in Riyadh on Monday.
The SGI aims to eliminate 278 million tonnes of carbon
dioxide emissions per year by 2030, up from a previous target of
130 million tonnes. The crown prince said the SGI initiative
would involve investments of over 700 billion riyals ($190
billion) in that time period.
Saudi Arabia's economy remains heavily reliant on oil,
although the crown prince is trying to promote diversification.
Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the world
needed fossil fuels as well as renewables.
"It has to be a comprehensive solution," he said. "We need
to be inclusive, and inclusivity requires being open to accept
others' efforts as long as they are going to reduce emissions."
He said the kingdom's younger generation "will not wait for
us to change their future".
He said net zero might be achieved before 2060 but the
kingdom needed time to do things "properly".
Another Gulf oil producer, the United Arab Emirates, this
month announced a plan for net zero emissions by 2050.
The non-profit Climate Action Tracker consortium gives Saudi
Arabia its lowest possible ranking, "Critically insufficient".
Saudi Arabia's first renewable energy plant opened in April
and its first wind farm began generating in August.
It does, however, have plans to build a $5 billion plant to
produce hydrogen, a clean fuel, and state-linked entities are
pivoting to green fundraising.
($1 = 3.7507 riyals)
(Reporting by Yousef Saba and Saeed Azhar in Riyadh, Marwa
Rashad in London and Maher Chmaytelli in Dubai; Additional
reporting by Raya Jalbi in Dubai; writing by Ghaida Ghantous;
Editing by Jason Neely, Kevin Liffey and William Mallard)