Saudi Arabia to Seek Financial Aid if World Reduces Oil Dependence


Mohammad S. Al Sabban - Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia may join the list of countries seeking financial aid over the UN climate deal. According to a Forbes.com report, during the UN’s recent greenhouse gas talks in Bangkok, Saudi Arabia campaigned quietly for financial compensation should a climate deal substantially reduce the world’s use of fossil fuels. The country appears to be motivated not by a need for assistance adapting to the impact of global warming but rather by a desire for compensation for decreased oil profits. Will the Saudis’ stipulation impact the development of an international climate treaty?

The Saudis’ campaign comes despite a recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report, which demonstrated that oil-rich nations would likely still profit with emissions regulations (sufficient for curbing climate change) in place. (According to the report, OPEC revenues would increase by $23 trillion between 2008 and 2030. This would be a fourfold increase in OPEC revenues’ growth rate between 1985 and 2007.)

Saudi delegation head Mohammad S. Al Sabban reportedly claimed that the IEA figures were biased and conflicted with OPEC’s own calculations (which he said showed a potential $19 billion-per-year loss [starting in 2012] for Saudi Arabia under a new climate deal.) Al Sabban also emphasized the nation’s dependence on oil (emphasizing a lack of other resources) and accused Western nations of working against oil producers under the pretext of climate change negotiations.

While Saudi Arabia’s economy has suffered from the global recession, some analysts believe it is better equipped than many other nations to cope with the crisis and with a climate deal’s requirements. Moreover, several environmental groups have criticized Saudi Arabia’s apparent prioritization of oil profit over climate change. Most countries, rich and poor, have agreed that a new climate deal should be implemented in order to decrease temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions to safe levels.

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.