Jad Mouawad and Andrew Revkin report in the New York Times on just the most darling Saudi proposal for how to help solve the global warming problem:
Saudi Arabia is trying to enlist other oil-producing countries to support a provocative idea: if wealthy countries reduce their oil consumption to combat global warming, they should pay compensation to oil producers....
The chief Saudi negotiator, Mohammad al-Sabban, described the position as a “make or break” provision for the Saudis, as nations stake out their stance before the global climate summit scheduled for the end of the year.
“Assisting us as oil-exporting countries in achieving economic diversification is very crucial for us through foreign direct investments, technology transfer, insurance and funding,” Mr. Sabban said in an e-mail message....
A recent study by the International Energy Agency, which advises industrialized nations, found that the cumulative revenue of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would drop by 16 percent from 2008 to 2030 if the world agreed to slash emissions, as opposed to the projection if there were no treaty.
But with oil projected to average $100 a barrel, the energy agency estimated that OPEC members would still earn $23 trillion over that period.
If Saudi Arabia was serious about diversifying its economy, it would open up its spigots and let the price of oil fall to the point where there were market incentives for economic diversification. Somehow, I don't see that happening.
So, this isn't really going to go anywhere -- but what I do find particularly amusing is that if one thought about compensating dirty energy producers for the costs of climate change mitigation, then oil producers would be close to the back of the line. Coal-producing economies -- like China and the United States -- would be justified in demanding much greater levels of compensation, since coal is a much dirtier energy source. Oil would be in front of natural gas producers, and that's about it.
Readers are encouraged to proffer their own proposals in the comments that would seem more outlandish than the Saudi one. Creativity counts!!
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.