COP21 The Paris Climate Conference and what it means for Saudi Arabia, the world

(MENAFNEditorial) Next month Ministers from around the world will gather in the French capital Paris for COP21 or the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

COP21 takes place between November 30 and December 11 and carries huge weight regarding climate change and the management of GHG on the planet we live on.

The magnitude of the impacts of climate change is not just matter for scientists; it also could have impacts financially and economically. For example, in the case of Saudi Arabia, rising temperatures would prove a harsh burden and would impact on living conditions, water resources and the need for energy to sustain life under such conditions.

Climate challenges

A landmark declaration was made in Paris in October by a group of oil and gas companies that account for 10 per cent of the world's oil/energy supply. The move was unprecedented in the oil and gas industry and saw Saudi Aramco and nine global oil and gas companies declare their support for an effective climate change agreement ahead of COP21.

Alongside Saudi Aramco CEO, Amin H. Nasser, the CEOs from Total, BP, BG Group, Eni, Repsol and Pemex launched the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative's (OGCI) collaborative declaration that will boost cooperation over a range of areas to strengthen actions to reduce greenhouse gas.

At a press conference, Nasser said: "As our track record shows, Saudi Aramco is committed to playing its part. Energy efficiency has been, and will continue to be, a top priority in everything we do to both benefit the Kingdom and to maintain our position as the world's largest, most reliable oil and gas producer."

In this context, COP21 is labeled as "crucial" by its organizers and will see global Ministers, scientists, pressure groups and United Nations agencies try to reach an effective global climate agreement.

Every nation involved has a different set of priorities to bring to the table in Paris.

For Saudi Arabia, as the leading energy supplier to the world, it recognizes the responsibilities that come with that.

Greenhouse gas management

Back in April, HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman, The Vice Minister of Petroleum and Mineral resources speaking at an Expert Workshop on Carbon management and the Global Methane Initiative (GMI), spelled out the Kingdom's efforts.

"The Kingdom is cognizant of the fact that economic development needs to take place while taking into consideration climate change. Therefore carbon management has been a corner-stone of the Kingdom's energy strategy.

"At a holistic level, the Kingdom has been an active and responsible member of the international community in all climate change initiatives over the past decades. We have been proactive in joining both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, and we have implemented all our commitments under them. We did not stop here; as a responsible oil producer, the Kingdom, in addition, joined several other carbon management initiatives outside the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

"We have submitted our Intended National Determined Contribution (INDC) ahead of Paris. The CDM Designated National Authority, created in 2009 was given this task and it took the necessary steps towards this commitment with an intensive interagency consultation and data collection effort."

According to experts climate change has already made its stamp, is a reality and the current level of pledges is not enough.


At the core of Saudi Arabia and other developing countries concern, is that any agreement reached collaboratively in Paris is fair and does not allow for the transfer of the burden of addressing climate change caused by developed countries to developing countries. The context in the developing world is a lot different and any mandatory framework designed to work for developed nations will not be effective for developing nations.

Saudi Arabia needs a strong, fair and balanced agreement coming out of Paris and one that takes into account national circumstances and challenges.

While developing countries recognize the role they have to play and the need to make contributions to climate change mitigation, simplistic transfer of burden to them is not an option. That could potentially stifle much-needed development. Not only have most of emissions in the past came from Developed Countries, but also such a transfer would stifle much needed sustainable development and the development of required frameworks that help foster a future ability to act for developing countries.

A one-cap fits all solution, in short, will not be effective. At the heart of Saudi Arabia, and state owned energy giant Saudi Aramco is the development and dissemination of technology that addresses climate and environmental challenges.

The role of hydrocarbons

HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman added: "For over a century, the world economy and our quality of life has been fueled by hydrocarbons. There are irrefutable indicators that hydrocarbons will remain an essential component of the global energy mix in the foreseeable future. Ignoring this fact is denying economic realities; especially in the case of developing nations that will require hydrocarbons to realize their ambitious socio-economic development plans.

"The Kingdom is the leading energy supplier to the world and serves as the largest exporter of oil. This mantle comes with responsibilities towards the environment and the adverse effects of climate change."

Renewables are also an area of focus as the Kingdom works towards a balanced energy mix.

HRH Prince Abdulaziz said: "On the supply side, the Kingdom has been working on complementing its current hydrocarbon based energy mix. For that purpose, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) was established in 2010 with the mandate to serve as a catalyst for the swift development of renewable energies such as solar and wind."

So, there are multifaceted challenges for Saudi Arabia and what the Kingdom will be seeking in Paris is a balanced and fair agreement that takes into the account the special status of developing nations while allowing them their aspirations to develop and prosper in a sustainable way.

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