In Search of An Honest Response

10 April 2010

As usual, ECO has a lot of questions about what Saudi Arabia is really after.  Just yesterday, they gave a free lesson to the chair of the LCA. She is not supposed to prepare new text, so it was said, but only facilitate discussions, since this is a Party-driven process and only Parties can work out texts. Well, ECO would like to offer a friendly amendment. Preparing a new text based on Party submissions is still a Party-driven process, and the reorganization of the text is in the mode of facilitation. So, let the chair do her job. Then there is a puzzle. What is it about Saudi Arabia and the Copenhagen Accord?  They helped draft it, they supported it in one session in Copenhagen but retracted their support in another. Later they did not associate with it, and finally now they say it is not important. The Accord falls well short of the mark, we agree, but why did they approve it in the first place and then retract their support? After all, they got response measures linked to adaptation in the Accord text, reversing the agreement to separate them in the Bali Action Plan.  One theory is that ‘no deal’ is better than a ‘bad deal’ (even though a ‘bad deal’ is a good deal for the Saudis).  Although they always have suggested that ‘response measures in adaptation’ is a placeholder, they have never indicated what they want in order to drop this issue. Naturally, the question arises whether the position on response measures is just a tactic to stall negotiations, more than achieving an agreed outcome.  And all this seems to confirm that Saudi Arabia remains in the obstructionist camp. If Saudi Arabia is eager to prove other-wise , perhaps they should approach other Parties and indicate what they want in place of the response measures/adaptation ‘place- holder’. Maybe, for example, something under the technology track to help diversify the economy, such as renewable energy industrial development – that might get ‘response measures’ out of their system. But it doesn’t seem likely, since they also success-fully blocked the bunkers discussion (as we said at the time, ‘never underestimate the Saudis’). For the adaptation discussion to move forward, Saudi Arabia must drop their ‘response measures’ argument. It is not morally right to receive compensation if oil demand goes down, for two main reasons. First, they have already benefited by trillions from selling oil, which has significantly contributed to the climate change problem. Second, they provided no compensation to the affected poor when the demand on oil went up and so did price.  Why then should Saudi Arabia be compensated when the demand goes down?

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