'Not From Here,' stories by Nathan Deuel

Who's up to old tricks in Copenhagen? The Saudis

Mohammad Al-Sabban has led Saudi's climate change team for years.

Mohammad Al-Sabban has led Saudi's climate change team for years. (Courtesy of IndyACT/Brianna)

For years, Saudi climate change teams had one move: They denied the science. Then, as world leaders began to accept the fact that people cause climate change, the Saudi strategy shifted. If the world is going to move away from oil AND require that we reduce our emissions, they reasoned, then top countries should pay us to go green.

It was an astounding gambit — the idea that one of the wealthiest countries in the world should get billions of dollars to reduce carbon emissions. But it was just that: a gambit.

The Saudi climate team — led for years by Mohammad Al-Sabban — has only one real strategy: do anything to stymie reform. Like U.S. senators who demand that 1,000-page bills be read aloud, the Saudi strategy has been one of obstruction, delay, and obfuscation.

And the so-called “climategate” release of emails, suggesting that some scientists suppressed research that humans don’t cause climate change, certainly hasn’t helped. Now the Saudis can mostly ditch the pay-up routine and are back to the old deny-the-science game.

But as my wife reported on NPR yesterday, the game might be up. With heavyweights China and India — part of the “G-77 plus China” group of developing nations — signing on for genuine reform, it looks at last like Saudi is no longer in a position of power.

There will be more fancy footwork ahead, but no matter how deep into overtime we go, the final score has at last become clear.

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Filed under: Climate Change, Saudi Arabia, , , ,

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