Saudi: “We are the 1%!”

ECO thinks that we might have witnessed the potential beginnings of a copyright infringement dispute yesterday in the ADP when Saudi Arabia appeared to be freely utilising the current Canadian government’s talking points on climate change. The Saudi delegate insisted that being responsible for only 1% of global emissions is an excuse for inaction on mitigation; a line of reasoning with which Canada’s Prime Minister Harper and his ministers have long tried to justify how their expansion of dirty tar sands isn't reckless nor is Canada’s general failure to deliver on Kyoto or Copenhagen commitments: Canada isn’t excused from acting on climate change just because its fraction of the global emissions total is small.

In case you, Dear Reader, missed it, Saudi Arabia suggested that its “minuscule” contribution of a mere 1% to global GHG emissions justifies that it can limit its INDC to adaptation action while only the top 20 of the world’s emitters should focus on mitigation. To suggest that countries with “only” 1% of global emissions should get a free pass on mitigation doesn’t make sense on two fronts. It doesn’t fit with a long term need to completely phase-out fossil fuel emissions by 2050 and phase-in renewable energy access for all, and it also contradicts the very purpose of the ADP, tasked with “ensuring the highest possible mitigation efforts by all Parties”.

If Parties would follow Saudi Arabia’s reasoning, 83% of Annex I countries would also not have to contribute to mitigation, since countries like the Netherlands (0.5%) or France (1.1%) contribute the same amount or less than Saudi Arabia (1.2%) to the global GHG total. Following a similar logic, only about 70% of global emissions would be covered by mitigation action as the 172 countries with emissions equally “minuscule” as Saudi Arabia’s or lower emit about 30% of the total (calculated by ECO using 2011 GHG Data from the CAIT 2.0 database).

Saudi Arabia, climate change requires “the widest possible cooperation by all countries”, and such ambitious action is only possible if everybody is pulling their weight. A country that has both the high capacity to act (like yours) and, as a fossil fuel extractor, a high level of responsibility for the climate problem (like yours) will need to contribute its fair share to mitigation. While there might be a degree of disagreement on how high exactly your fair contribution to mitigation would be, ECO is quite certain it’s more than nothing. Just saying. 

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