Saudi Arabia denies playing climate saboteur at Glasgow

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Saudi Arabia’s energy minister is dismissing complaints that the oil kingdom is working behind the scenes to undermine global climate talks

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“We are doing a good job” with the head of UN climate talks and others, Prince Abdulaziz said.

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries are coming up against a weekend deadline to find a consensus on next steps to cut the world’s fossil fuel emissions and otherwise tackle climate change.

Saudi Arabia’s participation in climate talks itself may seem inconsequential – a kingdom that has become rich and powerful because of the oil it engages in talks that reduce consumption of oil and other fossil fuels. Pledging to join efforts to cut emissions at home, Saudi leaders have made clear that they intend to pump and sell their oil as long as demand remains.

The Saudi Arabian team in Glasgow has presented proposals ranging from a call to leave the talks – they often spread into the early morning hours – every day until 6 pm. The factions are complicated efforts to play against each other. Agreement on tough measures to move the world away from coal, gas and oil.

Well, that’s what Saudi proposes. They’re like, ‘Let’s not just work at night and just accept that it’s not going to be ambitious'” when it comes to sharp cuts in fossil fuel pollution that The climate is ruining it, said Jennifer Tolman, an analyst at E3G, a European climate think tank.

And then “if other countries want to agree with Saudi, they can blame Saudi Arabia,” Tolman said.

Mary Robinson, Ireland’s former president and head of a group of senior political leaders on climate, told the Associated Press on Thursday that Russia and Saudi Arabia are “backing hard” to block any mention in Glasgow’s final deal to work. phasing out coal, or reducing government subsidies on fossil fuels.

Saudi Arabia has long been accused of spoiling climate talks, and this year it is by far the main country to speak publicly by negotiators, privately speaking, and observers. Russia and Australia have also joined Saudi Arabia in talks as countries that see their future dependent on coal, natural gas or oil and are working for a Glasgow climate agreement that is not a threat.

Despite efforts to diversify the economy, oil, which accounts for more than half of Saudi Arabia’s revenue, keeps the kingdom and the royal family afloat and stable. About half of Saudi workers still work for the public sector, with their salaries paid in large part by oil.

and China, whose reliance on coal makes it the world’s biggest climate polluter. It argues that it cannot switch to clean energy as fast as the West says, although the United States and China have jointly pledged to speed up their efforts to cut emissions.

A key issue in the talks: The world has less than a decade to cut its fossil fuel and agricultural emissions, say scientists and the United Nations, if it wants to avoid more catastrophic scenarios of global warming.

Not surprisingly, island nations that would disappear under rising oceans at high levels of warming, the bloc in Glasgow are trying their hardest to secure the tightest deal from this summit.

Meanwhile, climate advocates have accused the United States and the European Union of failing to put their weight behind the island nations’ demands so far, although the US and EU often debate issues until the last few days of climate talks. Wait till you take a hard line. ,

The United States – historically the world’s worst climate polluter and a major oil and gas producer – receives a lot of criticism in its own right. The Climate Action Network humiliated the Biden administration with its “Fossil of the Day” award to President Joe Biden for coming to Glasgow last week with ambitious climate talks, but not moving his country away from coal or reining in US oil production. failed to attend the pledge. ,

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of the Greenpeace environmental group, said other governments need to “isolate the Saudi delegation” if they want the climate conference to be successful.

Saudi Arabia was fine with governments engaging in climate-pledge fever ahead of the talks. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced in Glasgow that the kingdom will reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2060.

But Saudi leaders have vowed for years to pump the last molecule of oil out of their kingdom before world demand ends – a purpose that will frustrate a rapid global switch from fossil fuels.

“Naked and cynical,” says Alden Meyer, a senior colleague at the E3G climate research group, about Saudi Arabia’s role in global climate discussions.


Associated Press writers Frank Jordan, Anirudh Ghoshal and Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.


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