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Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia targets net zero emissions by 2060

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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 U.N. 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.

‘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 and Kevin Liffey)

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Russia may sue NASA astronaut over claims of drilling hole in spacecraft – WION

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US-Russia spat seems to have reached space now. In a new development, Russian space agency Roscosmos has threatened to sue a NASA astronaut.   

The agency claims the astronaut drilled a two-mm hole in a Soyuz MS-09 vehicle, which was docked with the International Space Station (ISS) in 2018.  

After completing its investigation recently, the agency deemed the action as a sabotage. It cited Serena Auñón-Chancellor, an ISS crew member during the incident, as the culprit.  

Also Read: Watch | NASA mission to test out Armageddon scenario blasts off

As the allegations were handed over to law enforcement of the Russia, Roscosmos announced the possibility of criminal charges.   

With the hope of returning home early, Auñón-Chancellor purposefully made the hole, reported the Izvestia newspaper while citing sources on Friday.  

Auñón-Chancellor seems to have wanted to leave due to a blood clot or a fight with her boyfriend onboard the ISS, Russian news outlet said citing sources.  

Also Read: NASA postpones ISS spacewalk because of space debris

When Auñón-Chancellor was in space, she got married to Jeff Chancellor. The couple is still married to this day. It is unclear who is the ‘boyfriend’ as stated by sources.  

After a pressure drop was identified due to an air leak, the hole was spotted on August 30, 2018.  

(With inputs from agencies) 

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NASA aims to replace ISS with a commercial space station by 2030 – The Tribune

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Washington, Dec 1

The US space agency is planning to replace the International Space Station (ISS) with one or more commercial space stations by 2030.

NASA’s auditing body, the Office of Audits, has produced a report detailing the agency’s commitment to replace the orbiting lab with commercial space stations.

Astronauts have lived and worked onboard the ISS orbiting roughly 250 miles above the Earth’s surface for more than 20 years.

“The ISS costs about $3 billion a year, roughly a third of NASA’s annual human space flight budget, and while current plans call for the Station’s retirement in 2024, an extension to 2030 is likely,” the US space agency said in the audit report.

Anticipating its retirement, NASA has committed to replacing the ISS with one or more commercially owned and operated space destinations.

“In the fiscal year (FY) that ended September 30, 2021, Congress authorised $17 million to that end — a fraction of the $150 million the Agency said it needed. NASA’s plans for long-term, deep space human exploration missions depend on continuous access to a research laboratory in low-Earth orbit,” it added.

The Artemis mission, aimed at returning humans to the Moon and ultimately landing astronauts on Mars, is not feasible without continued human health research and technology demonstrations being conducted on the ISS and its eventual replacement.

“As long as humans intend to travel in space, NASA expects research and testing will be needed in the microgravity environment of low-Earth orbit,” the audio report mentioned.

While overall ISS operations and maintenance costs remained steady at about $1.1 billion a year from FY2016 through FY2020, systems maintenance and upgrade costs trended upward 35 per cent in the same 5-year period, rising to approximately $169 million in FY2020 due primarily to upgrades.

Meanwhile, NASA and Roscosmos are investigating the cause and long-term impacts of cracks and leaks that were recently discovered in the Station’s Service Module Transfer Tunnel, which connects the Service Module to one of eight docking ports on the Station.

“Causes being explored include structural fatigue, internal damage, external damage, and material defects. Notably, based on the models NASA used to assess the structure, the cracks should not have occurred, suggesting the possibility of an earlier-than-projected obsolescence for at least one element of the Station,” the US space agency noted. IANS

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Arctic rainfall could dominate snowfall earlier than expected: study – Global Times

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A view of Arctic Photo: VCG

Rainfall could start replacing snowfall in the Arctic decades sooner than previously thought, a study found Tuesday, warning the change caused by global warming could have effects beyond the region.

The Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the planet, melting sea ice and adding moisture to the air that is likely to increase precipitation.

Comparing the latest projections to previous climate models, the study published in the scientific journal Nature Communications estimates the switch from snowfall-dominated annual precipitation to one dominated by rain will come about “one or two decades earlier.”

“Changes are going to be more severe and occur much earlier than projected and so will have huge implications for life in and beyond the Arctic,” the study’s main author Michelle McCrystall told AFP.

“In autumn, for example, when the greatest changes occur, the central Arctic may transition around 2070 in the latest set of models compared to 2090 in the previous set,” added McCrystall, a researcher at Canada’s University of Manitoba.

But everything depends on the degree of global warming.

At the current rate of warming rain could dominate snow in the Arctic before the end of the century, the study says. But it says limiting warming to 1.5 C could mean the Arctic stays dominated by snow.

Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said the results “imply that the worst impacts can be avoided if countries match their stated intentions to cut emissions in line with the Paris agreement.”

But Schmidt added that he felt the study did not prove the change would come sooner than expected.

Whenever it comes, the switch from snow to rain is likely to have major effects on the Arctic ecosystem. 

More rainfall on top of current snow cover could lead to increased surface ice that would make it impossible for caribou and reindeer to forage for food.

Less snow cover also means the Arctic will lose some of its capacity to deflect solar heat and light away from the Earth’s surface and thus contribute to warming.

AFP

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