OPEC Statement to the High-level Segment of the 14th Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development

Delivered by Mr. Mohammed Barkindo, Acting for the Secretary General

Energy is fundamental for sustainable development. While the use of all forms of energy is welcome, it is clear that fossil fuels will continue to satisfy the lion’s share of the world’s growing energy needs for decades to come.

Since its establishment in 1960, OPEC has committed itself to market stability and to ensuring an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers. Recently, it has accelerated its capacity expansion plans, despite significantly rising costs, to help meet future demand for its oil and offer an adequate level of spare capacity, for the benefit of the world at large.

In addition to this, OPEC and its Member States have also taken an active interest in the economic development and social progress of other developing countries for decades, as well as in environmental issues and the production of cleaner, safer oil.

The Organization established the OPEC Fund for International Development in 1976, with the mandate to “reinforce financial cooperation between OPEC Member Countries and other developing countries and promote South-South solidarity”. To date, the OPEC Fund has committed nearly US $8 billion in grants and loans. The OPEC Fund is, indeed, one of eight multilateral financial institutions that are now either exclusively or largely financed by OPEC Member Countries, and there are, in addition, many bilateral OPEC aid institutions.

Moreover, bearing in mind the need for environmental protection, OPEC considers that it is only realistic to promote cleaner fossil fuel technologies, including carbon capture and storage. It has consequently joined the IEA Greenhouse Gas Research and Development collaborative Programme as well as the Global Gas Flaring Reduction public-private partnership.

In line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, OPEC considers that industrialised countries should take the lead in the development of cleaner fossil fuel technologies, in particular in funding and executing large carbon capture and storage demonstration projects. The Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol should also be adapted to facilitate the application of cleaner fossil fuel technologies in developing countries.

OPEC welcomed the outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 and its Plan of Implementation. It is following, with keen interest, the proceedings of the 14th Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.

OPEC maintains that, in order for the session to be conducted and concluded in a fair and balanced manner, the legitimate interests of oil-exporting developing countries, which supply the world with a very valuable and non-renewable natural resource, should be considered at all times — as, indeed, should those of all other developing countries that are suppliers of raw materials to the industrialised world. Therefore, we believe that the following protocols should be observed.

First, energy for sustainable development should be viewed in the context of the effective implementation of Agenda 21 and the Joint Plan of Implementation.

Secondly, a comprehensive balance between the three pillars of sustainable development — economic development, social progress and environmental protection — should be maintained. Concurrently, the four thematic clusters — energy for sustainable development; industrial development; air pollution/atmosphere; and climate change — should be considered in an integrated manner and within the context of the three pillars.

Thirdly, the evaluation of energy sources should be undertaken in accordance with balanced criteria: reliability, affordability, economic viability, social acceptance and environmental soundness. Furthermore, access to energy and energy services should be the overriding concern for developing countries, and not the source of the energy.

The outright and emotional discrimination against oil in particular and fossil fuels in general is unrealistic. The challenges of energy security, energy poverty, climate change and sustainable development can only be overcome through a comprehensive and balanced approach.