UK newspaper The Guardian reports complaints that Saudi Arabia is trying to obstruct agreement at the COP21 summit, offering only implausible objections, according to delegates and campaigners, in order to protect its future as one of the world’s largest oil producers. Those concerns about the future for an economy almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels was reflected in the negotiations, other observers said. Until it was overtaken by the USA, Saudi Arabia was the world’s largest oil producer and currently ranks as the 10th largest polluter, according to Enerdata .
Although the kingdom has a long history of obstructing climate change deals, in the run-up to the Paris summit, it has adopted a more friendly amenable posture. It has offered its own climate change plan to the UN, although analysts described the targets as ‘opaque’. And last May, Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi minister for petroleum and mineral resources, acknowledged that the global economy was moving away from fossil fuels and announced that Saudi Arabia was prepared to move with it.
But in the background, say observers and delegates, the Saudis have strenuously resisted efforts to enshrine ambitious goals into the text of a Paris agreement, including an objection to the "1.5°C" target, which has now been endorsed by over 100 countries including low lying pacific states and large polluters such as the EU and the USA, and it has also objected to the 2050 decarbonisation goal and to clauses that include periodic reviews of climate plans.
Among its justifications Saudi Arabia has offered its relative poverty (it is ranked the world’s 15th largest economy), the suggestion that it does not have the capacity to reprocess the climate change mechanism at regular intervals, and a demanded that if small islands (such as Kiribati) can be compensated for climate change, they should also be protected from loss of future oil income.