Greenpeace accuses Saudi Arabia of crippling COP26

Greenpeace accuses oil-rich Saudi Arabia of crippling COP26
2 min read
08 November, 2021
Environmental activists hope the COP26 will conclude with a strong cover decision outlining state commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, but lead environmental NGO Greenpeace says Saudi Arabia is dragging its feet at the conference.
Climate activist group Extinction Rebellion protest in Glasgow during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference [AFP/Getty]

International environmental NGO Greenpeace has accused Saudi Arabia on Sunday of trying to stall negotiations at the COP26 World Climate Conference in Glasgow.

"On Friday night, Saudi negotiators moved to block the negotiations taking place over the creation of the so-called 'cover decision' for the final text," Greenpeace said in a press release. "The cover decision is the top line message coming out of a COP that signals what the final outcome means for the world and is a vital part of any successful summit."

The NGO also accused Riyadh of blocking decisions to move forward on adaptation to the consequences of climate change. Better adaptation to climate change is a key issue for countries most vulnerable to climate change, who are unlikely to agree on a final cover decision if progress towards that goal is not included.

Greenpeace International's manager Jennifer Morgan called on other countries at conference to isolate the Saudi Arabian delegation. However, decisions taken at COP26 have to be adopted unanimously, which means no country can be completely sidelined.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is among the top oil exporters worldwide and has shown little interest in drastically phasing out fossil fuels, although most experts agree this is needed to keep global warming in check. Despite pledges to reach zero net carbon emissions by 2060, Saudi Arabia plans to increase the production capacity of its national oil company from 12 million to 13 million barrels a day by 2027.

"No country is immune to the catastrophic threat of rising temperatures, Saudi Arabia included," said Morgan. "Indeed, the Gulf region is warming even faster than the global average."

The name "COP26" stands for the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty that came into force in 1994.

Around 200 states who adopted the treaty attend the bi-yearly conference, whose objective is to limit global warming and prepare adaptations to climate change. This year's conference will end on November 12.

Environmental observers hope that states will reach an action plan to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celcius.