Saudi Arabia Is Home to the World’s Largest Oil Field. Can They Wean Off It?

The site hosts the government's fossil fuel giant Saudi Aramco, but it is also one of the most climate vulnerable regions in the world.



If you had an oil field, what would you do with it?

A few months ago, The Guardian did a five-month investigation into “carbon bombs,” or fossil fuel projects that would, over the course of their life, emit over one billion tons of carbon. They found that there are 195 planned oil and gas carbon bombs around the world, and if they proceed as planned, these projects alone would blow past internationally agreed upon climate targets. Six of those projects are at the Ghawar Oil Field: a site in Saudi Arabia that is considered the largest oil field in the world. This region is home to the government-owned fossil fuel giant Saudi Aramco, but it is also one of the most climate vulnerable regions in the world. Saudi Arabia is now grappling with the question of how to stay relevant in global energy markets as the world transitions toward clean energy and their country is on track to be too hot to inhabit by 2070. Today, we explore what makes the Ghawar Oil Field so lucrative, what environmental and economic challenges face the region, and some possibilities for Saudi Arabia’s energy future. With special guest Dr. Dan Rabinowitz: Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University.

The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at

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Writers: Isabel Plower, Maddy Schmidt, Ethan Brown

Editor: Will Andronico

Producers: Ethan Brown, Shannon Damiano

Ad Voiceover: Maxwell Pociask

Music: Brett Sawka

The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.


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The Sweaty Penguin
The Sweaty Penguin is a digital news source and podcast aiming to make environmental issues less overwhelming and politicized and more accessible and fun.


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