On Tuesday, it was claimed that Saudi Arabia are trying to undermine international efforts to reach an agreement on climate change. The country is one of the largest exporters of oil in the world and many have claimed that it is because of this that they are attempting to block an international agreement to move away from carbon-producing fossil fuels.
With the negotiations now in their final week, many campaigners and delegates are beginning to complain about the way in which Saudi Arabia are attempting to block a strong deal being reached.
The director of Climate Action Network, Wael Hmaidan, said:
“They are seeing the writing on the wall. The world is changing and it’s making them very nervous.”
Many people at the climate talks have pointed that they fear for their country’s economy because it is almost completely fuelled by oil sales.
“Anything that would increase ambition or fast forward this energy transition that is already taking place is something that they try to block,”
Saudi Arabia was previously the world’s largest exporter of oil but was then overtaken by the United States of America. According to Enerdata, it is currently the world’s 10th largest producer of carbon emissions.
The country has long cut a difficult figure at annual climate change meetings, and they have often been charged with the accusation of attempting to disrupt international efforts to confront the issue.
However, many people were pleased to note that it had taken up a more helpful stance. It published a plan to tackle the issue of climate change and promised a “significant deviation”. However, it was also the last of the G20 nations to submit its proposal to the United Nations and many experts have said that the targets that are set out within it are “opaque”.
Back in May 2014, Ali al-Naimi admitted that the world was beginning to move away from carbon producing fossil fuels, and he said that Saudi Arabia was ready to embrace this change.
“In Saudi Arabia, we recognise that eventually, one of these days, we are not going to need fossil fuels. I don’t know when, in 2040, 2050 or thereafter.”
However, it is believed that within the negotiation rooms that Saudis are not making much of an effort to enable an agreement. They were vocally opposed to the mention of a lower target of 1.5C.
They have also said that they do not want to forced into carrying out periodic reviews into their climate plans. They believe that it was hard enough to create a climate plan to submit to the Paris summit.
Saudi delegates reportedly said:
“It is unacceptable for developing countries, like my own, to be asked to participate in this so called ratchet mechanism.”
Another representative was reported to have said:
“It was tough, we had to go to every ministry, every part of government. We developing countries don’t have the capacity to do this every five years. We are too poor, we have too many other priorities. It’s unacceptable.”
Campaign groups have said that the other Arab nations are also beginning to get fed up with Saudi Arabia’s objection, and many believe that the state is leaning on the rest of these nations to comply with them.
“We feel Saudi Arabia is playing a bully role in undermining the position of other Arab countries. It is unfortunate that the Arab group is the only group opposing 1.5C.”