OPEC Statement to the 6th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change - The Hague, November 2000

By Dr Rilwanu Lukman, OPEC Secretary General

High-level Segment, The Hague, Netherlands, November 13-24, 2000

Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

Permit me, on behalf of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries — a grouping of 11 developing countries — to congratulate you on your well-deserved election to the presidency of this very crucial Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. Our Organization and its Member Countries have from the inception of the climate change debate and negotiations taken active part, due to our concern for the safeguard of the global environment. Mr. President, you will also agree with us that both the UNFCCC Convention and the Kyoto Protocol are to a large degree "Energy Conventions".

OPEC shares the common desire for a cleaner and safer world, but we believe that the cost of achieving this should not be thrust on the people of the developing world nor upon any one segment of the economy of any country. The negotiations under the UNFCCC should seek to provide for a healthy planet and at the same time be comprehensive, balanced and consistent with the objectives of the convention and Kyoto Protocol.

In practice, we are faced with an issue which extends far beyond any proportional response to the risk of climate change. Decisions on so-called response measures could seriously damage the economic and social fabric of countries far and wide. Some countries may end up as net losers, yet the convention clearly warned against environmental standards that may be of "unwarranted" economic and social cost to other countries, particularly developing countries.

Especially vulnerable are the oil producing developing countries, which are mainly OPEC member countries, while these countries would themselves clearly not be immune to the claimed effects of climate change, their principal revenue-earner, petroleum, is inextricably associated with the downside of the negotiations. It is important to ensure that measures taken to combat climate change do not place an unfair burden on oil.

As it stands, the Kyoto Protocol, if fully implemented, would lead to a dramatic loss of revenue for oil-exporting countries, as a result of a heavy reduction in demand for petroleum. Independent studies estimate the loss at tens of billions of US dollars per year for OPEC's Members. This would strike a the very heart of these countries' economic and social infrastructures, causing a radical scaling down of development plans and entailing huge cutbacks in such vital services as education and health care. It would also affect the ability of these countries to invest in future production capacity.

Special consideration of the needs of fossil fuel producers is already a requirement of the Convention and the Protocol. We expect all the Parties to recognize this and to accommodate it at every appropriate level of the negotiations.

Finally it should not be forgotten that the established industrial nations bear the principal responsibility for the purported phenomenon of global warming, and not the developing countries. The onus, therefore, is upon the rich nations to minimize and finance the negative impact of their response measures on the poor countries of the south. Developing countries should not be roped into making commitments to emissions-reduction targets, which could have enormous cost implications for their fragile economies. Instead, every assistance should be given to them to develop their economies in an efficient, environmentally harmonious and sustainable manner.

Thank you.