2001 News Story

Oil minister at climate change talks in Marrakesh

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi today addressed the seventh conference of signatories of the United Nations treaty on climate change. The four-day conference, which opened yesterday in Marrakesh, Morocco, is discussing issues on environment, development, and energy sources such as oil.

In his speech, Minister Al-Naimi stated that Saudi Arabia takes pride in pioneering environmental protection in the developing world. He referred to the recent report concerning the economies of oil-exporting developing countries being negatively affected by the policies and measures adopted by industrial nations to meet their obligations under the climatic change agreement and the Kyoto protocol. This report, he said, confirmed what Saudi Arabia has been demanding for a long time, namely, that industrial nations amend their policies in order to alleviate the expected negative effects on oil-producing countries. He went on to explain that the Kingdom has also stressed the need for industrial nations to restructure their tax systems to reflect the carbonic content of greenhouse gas emission sources, especially since the currently-imposed taxes on these sources discriminate against petroleum products over sources that pollute the environment more, such as coal and nuclear power, whose producers enjoy subsidies, either directly or indirectly.
Minister Al-Naimi urged industrial nations to begin now to adopt policies and measures for reducing negative effects on developing nations that depend on petroleum exports, and not wait until the Kyoto protocol is enforced. He noted that developing nations are not willing to shoulder a burden that is larger than their fair share under the principles of the treaty and the Kyoto protocol, and suggested that among the measures the industrial countries could adopt is the encouragement of investment in these countries to enable them to forge the economic diversification needed to reduce absolute dependence on raw oil revenues, help realize regular economic growth rates that could assist in confronting the increasing rates of population growth to provide a reasonable standard of living for their citizens, and eliminate any tax obstacles on their exports, both oil and non-oil, which would help realize their economic stability.
Saudi Arabia, he said, shares the disappointment of developing countries concerning the indifference and lack of seriousness of the industrial countries to keep their obligations as regards the reduction of emissions of thermal occlusion gas, or to honor their commitments to provide financial and technological assistance to developing countries. The Kingdom is also dismayed that certain industrial countries have called on some of the developing countries to shoulder, either voluntarily or enforced, commitments that are not stated in the protocol or the agreement. Minister Al-Naimi reminded the industrial countries that the current priorities of developing countries are to eradicate poverty and improve their citizens' standard of living. The global summit on sustainable development scheduled for next year in South Africa, he said, will provide an opportunity to assess international performance as regards the resolutions issued to protect the environment, and to underscore the importance of realizing economical and social development while preserving the environment.