Opec’s Copenhagen soliloquy

Opec has made clear its views on climate change in a blog posted today on the Copenhagen summit website.

The blog was written by Abdalla Salem El-Badri, the group’s secretary-general, and is the most comprehensive opinion piece the group’s biggest oil producers have come up with.

Opec has two main points. One, that developing countries should not have to bear the main burden of mitigating climate change. Indeed , the group very much sees itself as a champion of developing countries, and despite its oil wealth, generally feels it fits into that club far better than the other. But there is another good reason developing countries are important to Opec.

It is their economic growth that will drive the future global demand for oil, as the rich countries’ needs begin to diminish.

Here is what El-Badri says:

For developing countries, poverty alleviation, economic development and social progress are the overriding priorities and it is clear that people in such nations will need more energy, not less, to meet these needs. Climate change is providing these countries with yet more challenges and additional vulnerabilities, although they have contributed little to the current situation.

The second point Opec makes is that carbon capture and storage – paid for by rich nations – is the best way forward:

Perhaps the single best available technology to reduce net CO 2 emissions in this respect is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The IPCC has stressed that CCS has the potential to meet up to 55 per cent of the global cumulative mitigation effort by 2100.

It’s not really a surprise that oil producers like the idea of CCS. CCS captures carbon emitted by oil (and gas) rather than competing with them, as other alternatives – particularly biofuels – do.

Talking of which, Opec is also quick to point out that CO2 is not the only culprit.

From the perspective of reducing emissions, it is crucial to be “comprehensive” and take into account all green-house gases. It should be remembered that 43 per cent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions stem from gases other than carbon dioxide (CO 2 ).

Related links:

Opec tackles the environment… sort of (FT Energy Source, 10/09/09)
Saudi Arabia’s oil capacity and Copenhagen (FT Energy Source, 29/07/09)

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