In the heat of deliberations at COP 28 in Dubai regarding the critical energy future dossier, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman categorically dismissed any approval for a gradual phase-out of oil usage.
The minister reiterated in an interview conducted on Monday evening that Saudi Arabia, along with other nations, would not entertain such a step.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Prince Abdulaziz affirmed that no one, especially governments, believes in a phasedown of oil.
On another note, the energy minister dismissed Western donations to a new climate loss and damage fund as “small change.”
Prince Abdulaziz noted that Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter but not a contributor to the new UN fund, had earmarked $50 billion for climate adaptation in Africa.
The loss and damage fund for vulnerable nations, a major win at the start of the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, has attracted about $700 million so far from donors including the European Union and the US, a sum criticized as insufficient by campaigners.
“Unlike the small change offered for loss and damage from our partners in developed countries, the Kingdom through its South-South cooperation announced in the Saudi Africa Summit in Riyadh last month the allocation of up to $50 billion,” Prince Abdulaziz said in a video message to the Saudi Green Initiative forum, held on the sidelines of COP28 in Dubai.
“This will help build resilient infrastructure and strengthen climate resilience and adaptation in the African continent directly through Saudi stakeholders,” he added.
Saudi Arabia has revamped its energy sources, invested in renewables and improved energy-efficiency as it tries to decarbonise its economy by 2030, Prince Abdulaziz affirmed.
“You cannot go to undeveloped countries or developing countries and ask them to do the same measures of the transition,” Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of Saudi state oil giant Aramco, told the forum.
“Especially people who don't have access to energy,” he adde.
He said he heard an African minister say “in order for us to have growth, we have to carbonize first then to decarbonize.”
“Maybe the bottom line is we should be less idealistic and more practical,” he added.
The decisive affirmations from Saudi Arabia come at a time when tensions have infiltrated the corridors of COP 28, dominating discussions on the future of energy.
According to updated preliminary drafts of the summit’s closing statement, all perspectives appear to be on the table and evenly poised thus far.