Oil Allies Refuse to Welcome Key Scientific Report at UN Climate Talks

By Catie Keck on at

In what is likely an unsurprising but no less troubling move, the oil alliance between Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States has intercepted the adoption of a key finding from the historic Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report at the United Nations climate talks—a move that is being chastised by many of the world’s nations as well as climate scientists.

The Guardian Australia reported Sunday that the issue arose over whether the UN climate change conference currently underway in Katowice, Poland should “welcome” or “note” the IPCC’s report on limiting global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid total climate disaster, with the oil allies pushing for the latter and essentially undermining the report’s findings. The report was commissioned by the climate conference in 2015 and was released in October. The Guardian reported that two and of half hours of debate over wording ultimately led nowhere.

“The apparently minor semantic debate has significant consequences, and the deadlock ensures the debate will spill into the second critical week of negotiations, with key government ministers set to arrive in Katowice,” the Guardian reported. “Most of the world’s countries spoke out in fierce opposition to the oil allies’ position.”

If this infuriates you, you are in good company.

“We are really angry and find it atrocious that some countries dismiss the messages and the consequences that we are facing, by not accepting what is unequivocal and not acting upon it,” Yamide Dagnet, a Senior Associate with World Resources Institute’s Collective Climate Action Objective, told the BBC.

Others, like Richard Klein, a Senior Research Fellow and at the Stockholm Environment Institute and a longtime IPCC author, chastised the incident on Twitter.

The climate change talks have been embroiled in ongoing drama, not the least of which being that a conference intended to be about reducing global carbon dioxide emissions, among other things, is literally being sponsored by coal companies.

“The big challenge now is for the Polish presidency to set aside its obsession with coal, get out of the way and allow full acknowledgement [sic] of the IPCC 1.5C report, and its implications for increasing the ambition of all countries, in the conclusion of COP24 later this week,” Bill Hare, a lead author on previous IPCC reports and the managing director of Climate Analytics, told the Guardian.

As Hare noted, all four of the oil allies are already “being hit by the impacts of only one degree of warming,” making their opposition to “welcoming” the report all the more frustrating. [BBC, Guardian]

Featured photo: Alik Keplicz (AP)