Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, is seeking compensation from the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund as climate rules may lead to a loss in oil income, the kingdom’s envoy to UN talks in South Africa said.
“Those developing countries who are going to be adversely impacted as a result of climate policies should be assisted by the Fund to adapt to such impacts including helping us in achieving economic diversification and reduce our dependency on the exportation of crude oil,” Mohammad al-Sabban, the chief Saudi climate negotiator, said today in an e-mailed response to questions.
The Green Climate Fund, central to agreements reached last year by UN treaty negotiators in Cancun, Mexico, is being discussed at talks in Durban, which began this week. The world’s richest countries pledged to channel $100 billion annually by 2020, part of it through the fund, to help poorer nations reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from energy production and adapt to effects of global warming such as rising sea levels.
Saudi Arabia “will never contribute” to the Fund, which should be financed by the governments of developed nations, al-Sabban said.
Developed Countries’ Responsibility
“It is not acceptable to ask developing countries to contribute to the fund, because and as stated in the Climate Convention, it is the responsibility of the developed countries,” he wrote, referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC. “We are very strong on this point along with other developing countries.”
There should be funding to support carbon capture and storage projects in developing countries, in particular fossil fuel exporters such as Saudi Arabia, and the UNFCCC should have full authority over the Green Fund rather than the World Bank, al-Sabban said.
“We are fully aware of the economic crisis that the EU and other Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development countries are facing, but that should not lead us to change their commitments,” he said.
The U.S. wants to make changes to the final draft of the Green Climate Fund, which raised substantive concerns and included errors and inconsistencies, Jonathan Pershing, the State Department’s lead envoy at the negotiations, said today. The U.S. hopes that work can be finished by the end of the talks on Dec. 9.
South Africa’s envoy presiding over the climate talks, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said she’d consult delegates informally over how to handle concerns about the fund, raising the chance that delegates may reopen debate on the issue.
“The Saudis want funding for response measures to be included,” Steve Herz, a spokesman on climate finance for the San Francisco-based environmental organization the Sierra Club, said in an interview yesterday. “The response to climate change has economic costs and they want to be compensated for the adverse impacts of the global response, for example on oil revenue. It’s a poisonous concept.”