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Matthew Wilkinson
Saudi Arabia
Committee 6.4: Balancing National Sovereignty with Climate Change
Saudi Arabia’s position on climate change efforts
As they always have, the people of Saudi Arabia believe firmly in international
cooperation on efforts to combat climate change. Climate change poses an especially significant
threat to our country due to its geographical location. Without global campaigns against climate
change, the Arabian Peninsula will be among the first regions to become uninhabitable. While
our support for comprehensive progress on the issue is unflagging, we feel that certain facets of
the current movement to limit emissions could compromise our national sovereignty. On the
subject of fossil fuels, Saudi Arabia’s minister of petroleum and energy resources, Ali bin
Ibrahim Al-Naimi, put it best; “the problem is not with fossil fuels, the problem is with emissions
from fossil fuels. We should focus on how we can use fossil fuels and eliminate emissions from
fossil fuels.” Saudi Arabia derives 85% of its export income from petroleum. The Kingdom is,
therefore, alarmed at the growing number of nations advocating for discrimination against all
fossil fuels. To hastily label petroleum as “dirty” threatens the KSA’s 28 million people with
grinding poverty. Especially for less developed countries without the luxury of a diversified
economy, resolutions that may be easy for other nations to comply with may represent an
existential threat- beyond the threat of climate change itself. In short, the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia is more vulnerable than most countries to both climate change itself and misguided
climate change combat efforts.
In addition to our international efforts with the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum,
as well as the Global Methane Initiative, the KSA has taken significant domestic action towards
emission reduction. Our Kingdom is pushing renewable energy sources, harnessing the desert
sun. We have moved towards a diversified economy with a variety of industries and are pouring
resources towards the research and development of new, cleaner technologies. Saudi Arabia has
a serious commitment towards reasonable climate efforts.
For the United Nations to succeed in fighting climate change, it must allow for different
countries in different economic and political situations to all contribute what they are realistically
able to. Expecting developing countries to meet the same standard as their fully developed
counterparts will result in either failure or entirely lowered standards. Saudi Arabia simply
cannot, in its economic situation, cut fossil fuel production and consumption as much as others
can, because its economy depends entirely on petroleum. The House of Saud will not allow
international agreement to take precedent over the well-being of its people, even if it
wholeheartedly agrees with the intentions of the agreement. Our fellow Arab state of Egypt
shares a similar predicament, and shares our concerns on this matter. Like Saudi Arabia, Egypt
supports climate change solutions, but wants to insure that countries be assigned standards based
on their, in the words of the Kyoto Protocol, “Common but Differentiated Responsibilities.”
Each nation bears a mutual obligation to assist in fighting climate change, but not all nations
share the same capacity for action. Capacity for action, therefore, should be what determines a
nation’s individual responsibility. Saudi Arabia hopes that, with the collaborative efforts of the
United Nations, the world will overcome the challenge that climate change represents without
undermining the national sovereignty of any member states