Saudi Arabia wants more study of global warming

Saudi negotiator accuses some countries of trying to shift the focus away from emissions targets toward phasing out of fossil fuels.
Wednesday 12/12/2018
Negotiators at a UN climate summit take photos of snow that fell in Katowice, Poland, on December 11. (AP)
Negotiators at a UN climate summit take photos of snow that fell in Katowice, Poland, on December 11. (AP)

KATOWICE, Poland — Saudi Arabia’s negotiators at the UN climate summit want scientists to spend more time examining global warming before countries decide on policies to tackle it.

A senior Saudi negotiator told reporters that his country wants to wait for a UN-appointed panel to complete a further review in 2022 before countries decide whether to endorse the science.

The negotiator briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to be identified by name.

Saudi Arabia -- joined by Kuwait the United States and Russia -- blocked endorsement of a special report on the Paris climate agreement’s target of keeping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

The Saudi negotiator said his country supports the Paris agreement, despite recent comments by a former Saudi climate envoy calling it “dead.”

The negotiator accused some countries at the talks in Poland of trying to shift the focus away from emissions targets toward the phasing out of fossil fuels. 

The oil-rich kingdom is pushing for technology it hopes can remove carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions.

The United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said countries must increase their contributions to international funds to help poor nations to tackle climate change.

Guterres told ministers and senior officials gathered in Poland on Wednesday that failing to agree on financial support “would send a disastrous message.”

He also called for a strong framework to ensure transparency among countries’ efforts to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris accord.

Guterres said scientists say the world has the ability to reach the target. He added: “What we need is the political will to move forward.”

(AW and agencies)