If you thought the executives at Goldman Sachs were the kings of backroom finance, think again.
Goldman Sachs, meet Saudi King Abdullah.
A new gambit by the oil-dealing kingdom would have Western oil guzzlers paying for using less oil. Sounds like the opposite of reality, you say? The Saudis say it’s the only way they’ll be able to afford helping the fight against global warming.
The New York Times frames the Saudi idea as, “if wealthy countries reduce their oil consumption to combat global warming, they should pay compensation to oil producers.”
Saudi climate negotiator, Mohammad al-Sabban, described the position as a “make or break” measure for the oil-heavy kingdom in the lead-up to global climate negotiations in Copenhagen. In an email exchange with the times, al-Sabban said wealthy Western countries like the United States should help the Saudis with “economic diversification” by paying for oil they don’t even use.
“Assisting us as oil-exporting countries in achieving economic diversification is very crucial for us through foreign direct investments, technology transfer, insurance and funding,” Sabban said in an e-mail.
“It is a very serious trend that we need to follow and influence if we want to minimize its adverse impacts on our economies and our people,” Sabban said in another e-mail to OPEC officials. “That does not mean we would like to obstruct any progress or that we do not want to join any international agreement. We will do that if the deal is fair and equitable and does not transfer the burden to us.”
The Saudi position isn’t new, but the shock over its position in the wake of record high oil prices and a global recession is.
Environmentalists say the idea is ludicrous.
“It is like the tobacco industry asking for compensation for lost revenues as a part of a settlement to address the health risks of smoking,” Jake Schmidt, the international climate policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the Times. “The worst of this racket is that they have held up progress on supporting adaptation funding for the most vulnerable for years because of this demand.”