Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Oil, A Boogeyman

One thing has become clear over the years; Western values are vague. They are adapted to agendas and interests dictated by different contexts and challenges, with what is suitable today considered criminal tomorrow and vice versa.

To give one of many examples, the West has imposed taxes on oil from the Gulf under the pretext of protecting the environment while subsidizing coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels, a decision that is beyond illogical.

It is probably ideal to introduce the discussion on the environment with these facts laid out by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Climate Envoy Adel Al-Jubeir in his interview with CNBC.

"We are one of the largest investors in solar energy and in terms of electric cars and electric car batteries. We are investors in Hydrogen, and we will become one of the world’s largest investors in Hydrogen moving forward. We have announced ambitious targets for reducing Carbon emissions in Saudi Arabia. We hope we can accelerate the target we had announced of becoming Carbon neutral by 2060," he said.

"We have made pledges with regard to Methane… We will do it. We have doubled the 2030 target we had set with regard to Methane Gas in Paris in 2015," he added.

The trend in the energy markets is turning oil into the boogeyman of everything environmental in an attempt to influence prices or production volume. Political, economic, and even media figures have called for the imposition of restrictions on the sources of energy currently being used in what are systematic and political campaigns aimed at manipulating the market.

The other aspect of these efforts to curb climate change that it is crucial to note - if we are to assume their stated intentions and motivations are genuine - is that these efforts are not limited to questions of the consumption of fossil fuels and the future of global energy security, but also the application of alternative solutions.

Both remarkable and annoyingly, all the solutions meant to "protect the environment" presented by the West involve restraints of sources of energy, disregarding the optimal solutions that create the least harm for millions of people living in various environments. Rather, and this is more precise, fighting energy sources was not mentioned in the Paris Agreement.

I will borrow from the text of the Agreement: "To tackle climate change and its negative impacts, world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris reached a breakthrough on 12 December 2015: the historic Paris Agreement... The Agreement is a legally binding international treaty. It entered into force on 4 November 2016. Today, 193 Parties (192 countries plus the European Union) have joined the Paris Agreement."

"The Agreement includes commitments from all countries to reduce their emissions and work together to adapt to the impacts of climate changes… and substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees."

We should remember: "The Paris Agreement provides a durable framework guiding the global effort for decades to come. It marks the beginning of a shift towards a net-zero emissions world. Implementation of the Agreement is also essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals." That is the goal, not regulating the global energy market!

One matter disregarded in the West is the massive repercussions that would ensue if those restrictions are imposed, whether directly through drops in employment, for example, or indirectly, with the ramifications that these restrictions would have on the economies of these countries, their billion-dollar infrastructure projects, and other things. They are thinking of how to resolve their many multifaceted economic problems and win elections for their parties, regardless of all the other implications of their actions and the alternatives on the table.

For climate solutions, refer to the beginning of this article and look into the actions taken by Saudi Arabia. Looking deeply into some of the Saudi efforts laid out in the introduction of this article… Look at what is happening in NEOM, the most cutting edge and significant environmental model available anywhere in the world today.