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Taylor is an oil-rich country

June 2, 2009

anna announces fossil awards

As I mentioned yesterday, the Climate Action Network gives daily Fossil-of-the-Day Awards to the “three countries judged to have done their ‘best’ to block progress in the negotiations.” All of the youth gather at 6pm in the hotel lobby, yell words to the Jurassic Park theme song, and hand out the awards to mock delegates in Oscar-style fashion in front of the crowds coming out of the UN plenary sessions. Receiving this award is supposed to be shameful. The mock recipients are booed and given trash as their trophy.Today’s awards were given to Saudi Arabia, Russia, and New Zealand. Saudi Arabia was awarded 1st place for demanding compensation for lost oil profits under a low-carbon treaty while also asking for a UN “insurance policy” to protect themselves against climate change damage. Taylor was scheduled to accept to play the mock delegate for Saudi Arabia and I was to take his picture.

However, the coordinators had accidentally started the theatrics before the Russian mock delegate arrived, so I saved the day by jumping in and accepting the award when I heard the name called. This explains the funny grin on our face, as my acceptance was obviously unplanned.


saudi arabia russia nz

5 Comments leave one →
  1. the artist formerly known as "mad dog" permalink*
    June 3, 2009 7:51 pm

    Haha excellent stories.

    How about the progress? Do you feel like our world has a chance? Especially since the waxman bill is looking like non-mandatory caps that won’t take effect for a while…

    Also what’s going on with water issues?

  2. Mike permalink
    June 4, 2009 3:06 pm

    Just to play devil’s advocate . . .

    Taylor, I wonder what your position would be if you really were a delegate from Saudi Arabia, considering:

    1. “The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings” in your country. Despite your efforts to diversify, you will be heavily dependent on fossil fuels for a long time to come.

    2. You represent a government that is very unpopular with radical Islamic leaders, who see it as a sell-out to the West. The rulers are very afraid of an Iranian-style revolution.

    3. An effective climate treaty would strike at the heart of your nation’s economy. Unemployment would likely spike, creating an angry population. This–quite honestly–could pose an existential threat to your government.

    So . . . as Saudi Arabia, would you rather risk the harmful effects of global warming somewhere down the road (which you could mitigate, to some extent, by spending your oil wealth) or would accept the likely overthrow of your government?

    Sort of like the simulation of the UN Security Council in O’Bannon’s humanitarian intervention class (Anthony and Andrew were in this, I forget if you took it as well) these types of considerations show why it is so difficult to do what is so obviously the “right thing.”


    • Mike permalink
      June 4, 2009 3:16 pm

      So anyway, to wrap things up . . .

      I doubt that Saudi Arabia loves climate change (unlike Russia, which is projected to benefit from moderate amounts of warming). Rather, if it agrees to a climate change treaty it will want to be sure that its economy won’t go down the pooper, taking the government with it. Also, if the government faces a decline in revenue–and thus has no more money for adaptation–it will want outside support to cope with the climate change that will happen anyway. Even if we stop emitting NOW, warming will continue to take place for decades. So although Saudi Arabia’s position is frustrating, it isn’t senseless. I wonder how much these mock (and mocking) awards will convince the Saudi Arabians that cooperation is the best course.

      Although I must say I love Anthony’s grin in the pic.


  3. nflores permalink
    June 5, 2009 12:54 am

    Yes Mike.

  4. abaratta permalink
    June 7, 2009 12:04 am


    water issues haven’t been discussed specifically as far as i can tell. taylor pointed out that this could be an issue the “contact group for potential consequences” deals with, but as we posted in “B.U.M.M.,” that wasn’t too impressive.

    the waxman-markey bill is going to play a very important role in copenhagen. so let’s hope it can withstand all the criticism it is getting hammered with now.

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