Archive for April, 2010


The book “Arab Economies in the Twenty-First Century” illustrates where Saudi Arabia receives most of its income stating, “In 2006, Saudi oil production was estimated at 10.7 million barrels a day of which about 7 million barrels a day was exported, earning some $162 billion.” Basically, Saudi Arabia received $100 billion a day from its oil sales. This quote demonstrates how dependent the Saudis are on its oil reserves because its economy consists of about 90 percent of its oil earnings. Illustrating how much Saudi Arabia receives from exporting oil also shows how much Saudi Arabia would lose if other countries reduced its oil consumption in the fight against global warming. Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil also illustrates its poorly diversified economy, which would be greatly damaged without its oil exports.

The article “Striving for No: Saudi Arabia in the Climate Change Regime” states, “… Minister Al Naimi predicted that, by 2010, Saudi Arabia would lose at least $19 billion a year as a result of the policies the industrialized nations will adopt to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.” Saudi Arabia’s main source of income, oil, is causing damage to the environment. Climate change mitigation policies require countries to take action and minimize sources that effect global warming. The quote shows the Saudis’ main concern, how much money they would lose due to the mitigation policies. It is only a prediction, but the quote shows that the Saudis mostly focus on the costs of mitigation and report studies that predict the most dramatic economic losses.

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Global warming is one of the most serious environmental problems today. Global warming is the rising of the earth’s temperature and it is causing the expected climate conditions to change rapidly. The rise in temperature is mainly caused by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels. The effects of global warming to the planet have caused rising sea levels and extreme weather. It causes a risk to people’s health and endangers the lives of many animals. To combat this problem, the entire planet needs to take a step to prevent global warming because when one country takes part in activities that cause global warming, the whole world is being affected. Even though global warming is causing dangers to the planet, not all countries are ready to make changes to fight against the rising temperature. Saudi Arabia is one of those countries. Saudi Arabia is well known for its oil reserves. It is the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil. This oil dependent country would lose a massive amount of income if other countries around the world decided to reduce their oil consumption in the fight against global warming. Knowing the damage this would cause to its economy, Saudi Arabian delegates plays the role of obstruction during climate change negotiations despite the potential damage global warming will cause to its citizens. The delegates for Saudi Arabia use a variety of tactics, such as holding out and refusing to negotiate, in order to slow down progress. Saudi Arabia considers the climate change mitigation policies as a threat to its oil trade because it is the main source of its economy, so Saudi’s delegates believe developed countries should pay compensation for the loss of its oil sales. The delegates also attempt to focus discussions on the adverse effects since Saudi Arabia is vulnerable to the potential negative impacts of climate policy.

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Terms and Concepts

My focus is Saudi Arabia’s involvement with climate change. Most of my research paper will focus on Saudi Arabia’s obstructionism in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, so one of the main terms I will need to define is obstructionism.

Obstructionism is the slowing down of progress or preventing an agreement all together because of the fear of others reaching an agreement that would have negative effects. Saudi Arabia wanted to destroy the Kyoto Protocol. Saudi fought to stop the launch of negotiations but was unsuccessful. When the Kyoto Protocol negotiations began, Saudi played the role of obstruction. Delegates for Saudi Arabia attempted to delay progress because the fear that the impacts on responding to climate change would have a big negative effect on its nation. The article “Arabs are more than Oil” sums up Saudi’s obstructionism stating:

… the current Arab position is based on protecting the oil trade more than protecting Arab citizens from the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Another term I need to define for my paper is tactics. Saudi uses a variety of tactics during climate change conferences in order to slow down progress. Tactics means strategies used in order to gain a desired result. Saudi is determined to slow down progress in the climate change regime and is more concerned about the adverse effects and the loss of income if mitigation policies follow thru. Saudi uses tactics, such as repetition and propagation and holding out, to delay progress and get its concerns addressed. What makes Saudi an obstructionist is the constant use of these tactics throughout the negotiations. The article “Striving for No: Saudi Arabia in the Climate Change Regime” discusses Saudi’s use of tactics, one of them called refusal to negotiate, stating:

The slow progress in negotiations on policies and measures over the past few years can be largely attributed to Saudi Arabia’s determination that discussions should focus overwhelmingly on adverse effects.

Another term that is important for my research paper is mitigation. Mitigation is the actions taken to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It refers to minimizing sources that effect global warming. Fossil fuel, such as oil, is the main cause of climate change. Saudi Arabia, being the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil, feels threatened by the mitigation polices because it would mean that other nations would reduce their oil consumption. Reducing their oil consumption would damage Saudi’s economy. The book Global Warming: Last Chance for Change shows how the climate change mitigation policies are a threat to Saudi stating:

At all climate talks since the Kyoto agreement was signed in 1997, the Saudi Arabian delegates have demanded compensation from developed countries for the loss of oil sales.

Obstructionism, tactics, and mitigation are important terms that need to be defined for my research paper because they all relate to Saudi’s involvement with climate change. Saudi fears the climate change mitigation polices. Therefore plays the role of obstructionist by developing tactics to slow down progress during the Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

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Synthesize Two Sources

The two sources that I think are the best sources that I have found are “Striving for No: Saudi Arabia in the Climate Change Regime,” an academic article by Joanna Depledge, and “Arabs are More than Oil, says Lebanon’s IndyACT before Copenhagen Climate Meeting,” an article by Karin Kloosterman. Both of these sources discuss Saudi Arabia’s participation in the climate change negotiations, but the article by Depledge provides more information on the subject. The article, “Striving for No,” goes in depth on Saudi’s involvement with the Kyoto Protocol negotiations. It discusses Saudi Arabia’s position on climate change and Saudi’s obstructionism tactics and its effectiveness. The article, “Arabs are More than Oil,” is a short article discussing activists protesting against Saudi Arabia’s obstructionism. The fact that both of these articles address Saudi’s fear for its economy suggests that that statement is more than an author’s belief.

“Striving for No: Saudi Arabia in the Climate Change Regime” states:

Saudi Arabia’s position on climate change is clearly founded on its fear over the potential negative impacts of climate change mitigation policies on its economy. These fears are unsurprising, given Saudi Arabia’s heavy dependence on the oil sector…

The article “Arabs are more than Oil” states:

Fossil fuel, like oil and coal, are the main cause of climate change. To solve this problem, nations must cut their dependence on oil and coal as the main source of energy and turn into renewable energy. That’s why Saudi Arabia considers the war against climate change as a threat to its oil trade, its main source of economical and political power.

Saudi Arabia receives most of its income from oil exports. If other countries decide to reduce their oil consumption, it would damage Saudi’s economy. Knowing this, Saudi Arabia plays the role of obstruction to slow down progress in the climate change negotiations.

Both of the quotes talk about Saudi’s fear for its economy and feeling threatened by the climate change mitigation policies. Both quotes express that Saudi is highly dependent on oil because it is a main source for its economy. The quote from “Arabs are more than Oil,” is the only part in the article that mentions Saudi’s opposing view on the climate change mitigation policies. The rest of the article discusses activists protesting against the Arab states for being obstructive and having little active participation during the climate change meetings. The quote from “Striving for No,” is just one small quote from a whole section discussing Saudi’s position on climate change. In that section, it basically says that Saudi feels threatened by the regime because it is vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change so Saudi sought to prevent or slow down progress.

Even though the article by Kloosterman is short, I think it provides good facts and quotes that would be useful for my research paper. Both articles focus on Saudi Arabia’s obstructionism during climate change talks because of the concern for its economy. They also state similar claims. The article, “Arabs are more than Oil,” sums up these points in just a few small paragraphs. The short statements in the article are farther explained in the article “Striving for No.” The article by Depledge is more reliable than the article my Kloosterman. The article my Deplege comes from an academic journal. There are footnotes and citing throughout the article and it provides a list of references at the end of the article. The article by Kloosterman cites it references by including links in the text and at the end of the article there is a brief description of the person that is quoted in the article.

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