The effort to control global warming has in the recent past been directed to greatest polluters with calls for them to reduce their carbon emission. Several sectors including private companies and education are being called upon to assist in the controlling of carbon emissions. In Saudi Arabia, the largest oil exporter in the world, carbon emission debate has for a long time been left in political doldrums as officials refute claims that carbon emission rather than human activities cause global warming. However, this has changed in the recent past as the government has continuously shown much willingness to support programs that promote carbon emission reduction. This paper investigates measures that are being implemented to lower carbon emission in Saudi Arabia and the role that the education sector plays in the lowering carbon footprint in the country.
Key words: Saudi Arabia, carbon emission, education, research, students, policies, programs
Saudi Arabia contributes a substantial amount of carbon emission owing to its large activities in the oil industry. The country is currently ranked at number 14 as the largest contributor to carbon emission with over 120 million metric tons of carbon produced annually. As the world’s largest exporter of oil, the consumption of petroleum products represents the largest bulk of fossil fuel with emissions from these products accounting for over 70% of emissions in 2008 (Mcevers, 2009). Most of these carbon gases come from the flaring oil fields. Technology deployment managed to reduce the emission of carbon gases from the country. However, the increased activities in the oil field driven by high demand of petroleum products has seen a sharp increase in the emission of carbon gases by the country. As such, the country has always been at loggerheads with environmental crusaders by refuting the claim that industrial activities like oil mining cause environmental effects (Mcevers, 2009). It has been arguing that this assertion is not scientifically proven. In this paper, I investigate measures that are being implemented to lower carbon emission in Saudi Arabia and compares and contrasts these measures with those in Australia. I also describe how these measures are reflected in the education industry as my profession.
Compare and Contrast between Saudi Arabia and Australia
The per capita emissions of carbon gases in Saudi Arabia are above the global average since 1950s standing at 4.69 metric tons per person (Ramanathan, 2005). This is a high rate compared to some countries that do not produce carbon emissions and who inadvertently suffer the consequences of global warming. Many environmentalists have accused Saudi Arabia of non corporation when it comes to issues of cutting down on carbon emissions as a result of its heavy industrial activities in the mine fields. However, like many other countries around the world, the Kingdom has tested the effects of environmental changes with a wave of drought which was described as the worst in 30 years. As such, the country’s leadership has taken a more active role in enacting local policies that were aimed at reducing the emission of carbon and creating a lower-carbon economy. Just like in Australia where the government has been on the forefront with Clean Energy Future, the Saudi Arabian authority has put in place the National Energy Efficiency Program to develop and apply clean energy technologies in the country. These technologies are anticipated to provide a great reduction in the country’s dependence on the domestic economy driven by huge oil consumptions. Both the two countries have put timelines upon which they should reduce their carbon footprint and establish themselves as world leaders in clean energy technologies (Ramanathan, 2005).
Equally, in both the two countries, the private-public partnerships have been touted as a great step in supporting clean energy and promote low carbon emission policies that will establish a new measure for energy efficiencies. Additionally, Australia and Saudi Arabia are focusing on efficient energy spending that will help address local and global climate change and energy security challenges. The government of Saudi Arabia and that of Australia have also partnered with UNDP in major projects like the City of Science and Technology and with partners like Saudi Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation to call for side energy efficient practices in the essential sectors of the economy (Dhulka, 2012).
In the education sector, both the Kingdom and Australia governments have invested in developing curriculums in environmental science that seek to produce environmental experts from universities. The hope of the countries is that the experts will help in managing environmental programs that are meant at reducing the carbon footprint in the two countries. In contrast, as much as Saudi Arabia is taking steps, amid increased pressure, to check its carbon footprints, Australia has been concerned with climatic changes for a longer period of time and therefore has more vibrant programs that seek to promote the use of clean energy technologies used in the provision of energy to the country as compared to the case Saudi Arabia (Smith, 2013).
Carbon Reduction Strategies in Education
Education in any country plays an important role in the implementation of policies that enhance social, economic, and environmental development. As a teacher in a country that is so much exposed to carbon emission, I have noticed the role that education is playing in anchoring carbon reduction strategies in the national policies of my country. For instance, teachers are involved in drawing up policies that govern industrial actions and which are aimed at reducing the emission of carbon from the country’s numerous industries. The government is directly working with schools to bring programs that promote environmental conservation to the very core of the nation; young students who are still in schools.
Furthermore, educational institutions are actively involved in enforcing the policies that are formulated to cut down on the emission of carbon in the country. For instance, emphasis is put on the use of solar energy in schools to cut down on sources of energy that contribute to the emission of carbon. Schools, just like many other institutions in the Kingdom, are required to comply with the environmental law by getting certificates of evaluation and environmental rehabilitation. Positive results have continued to be realized in the performance of schools and other institutions in terms of carbon emission around the country (Dhulka, 2012).
Moreover, teachers and students are both required to adhere to programs that emphasize the sustainable improvement in the energy use both in schools and homes as a way of boosting environmental protection. Government inspectors from the presidency normally go around the institutions to see that they are complying with the required standards in the reduction of carbon emission in their institutions. The essence of it all is that schools in the country are being encouraged to adapt initiatives that will promote the use of renewable energy sources as a way of cutting down on the carbon footprint in the country. Furthermore, the government is investing millions of money in the area of research and teachers in universities play a crucial role in the success of these research programs, especially in the area of green energy. The purpose is to develop the field of solar energy as well as encourage the concept of carbon capture and storage (Smith, 2013).
Analysis and Evaluation of Carbon Reduction Strategies
The effort to reduce carbon emission is on course in Saudi Arabia with increased efforts from government agencies to crack down on institutions that do not comply with clean energy policies. The education sector has been recognized as a crucial partner in the achievement of a clean energy in the country by offering support to individual researchers in schools and universities. However, much still needs to be done in terms of introducing the young Saudis on environmental conservation principles while still in lower schools so that even as they grow into adults, they shall already be having the sense of environmental conservation and reduction of carbon emission (Beder, 2006).
There needs to be a departure from the current perception that the government of Saudi Arabia is not keen to support clean energy as has been the case in the past. Moreover, the country also needs to integrate international experts from countries that have managed to control their carbon emission to a large extent such as Australia. There is also need for it to develop curriculums that will introduce students to environmental conservation and the need to cut down on carbon footprint. Even at the country continues to occupy the first position in the world as a producer of oil; the oil fields can be a source for controlling environmental degradation through carbon emission. It can do this by support programs like solar energy in schools which have the potential to reduce carbon emission rather than be a cause of carbon emissions as has been the case (Ramanathan, 2005).
The effectiveness of any policies that are put in place depends on the willingness of the largest stakeholder to comply with such policies. In Saudi Arabia, the government has for a long time engaged in dismissal activities arguing that the issue of carbon emission as a result of human activities was not scientifically proven. Though the National Energy Efficiency Program was launched in 2003, it was only until recently that it received the full support of the government. This happened after a devastating drought that threatened to affect the wildlife of the country. As a result of the big stake that the government of Saudi Arabia has in the oil industry and which contributes to more than three thirds of the country’s carbon footprint, it is doubtful that the government will implement policies that are put in place to the latter. This is because doing so will also affect its operations in the oil industry (Mcevers, 2009).
Although the government and other institutions like schools and universities have shown the willingness to support the renewable energy resources, much still need to be done in terms of getting resources to the locals and ensuring that they are empowered to support clean technologies. The private sector, which consists of large companies, must also be brought on board to ensure that they play their rightful role in promoting the use of clean energy in the country. Recent reports in the media indicate the government of Saudi Arabia urged its national carrier not to comply with European Union directive with regards to carbon emission from aircrafts and from the aviation industry as a whole. This action points to the loophole that still exists with the country’s commitment to support clean energy in the country in particular and the world in general.
- Beder, S. (2006). Environmental principles and policies: an interdisciplinary introduction. Earthscan
- This highly researched book illustrates the policies that different countries have put in place to control carbon emission and the role that education plays in promoting these policies. The source also highlights the challenges that face implementation of environmental conservation policies.
- Dhulka, L. (2012). Kingdom committed to reducing carbon emissions: PME chief. Arab News. Available at: http://www.arabnews.com/kingdom-committed-reducing-carbon-emissions-pme-chief
- This is a highly informative newspaper interview with the PME chief that discusses the recent efforts that the government of Saudi Arabia has put in place to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and the challenges that stand on the way of implementing these policies. Research in education is brought out as an important element in the controlling of carbon emission.
- Mcevers, K. (2009). Saudi Arabia tries to stall global emissions limits. Environment. Available at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121282056
- This is a research article that discusses the steps that Saudi Arabia has taken to control global emissions. It dwells on the political and scientific objections that the country has been highlighting when it is called upon to control its carbon emission by the international community. Much of the information in the article represent the opinion of the writer but contains facts drawn from other sources.
- Ramanathan, R. (2005). An analysis of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Journal of Energy, 30(15), 2831–2842
- This is a scholarly article that compares energy consumption and carbon dioxide emission in countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Among the 17 countries reviewed, Saudi Arabia is found to be the most inefficient in terms of carbon emission. Further analysis reveals progress in the efforts to reduce carbon emission in all countries.
- Smith, A. (2013).The climate bonus: co-benefits of climate policy. London: Routledge.
In this book, Smith highlights the link between low carbon policies and the benefits which can be attained when they are implemented to the latter. Among the benefits include clean air and water, conserved environment, sustainable agriculture, as well as a stable and strong economy. The author also discusses the role that each sector, including education, can play in enhancing carbon emission policies.