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OPEC Thwarts Climate Aid For Poor Nations - WWF
Mary Milliken, Reuters, (10 Dec 2004)

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: OPEC nations and Saudi Arabia in particular are standing in the way of getting financial help to developing countries to cope with global warming, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said on Thursday.

WWF, a leading environmental group, said that OPEC was blocking potential aid to developing nations until their own demands for compensation for losses in oil export revenues, caused by any cuts in the use of fossil fuels, were met.

WWF made its warning on the sidelines of the 12-day UN conference on climate change in Buenos Aires. The United Nations hopes for an aid deal to help poor countries cope with global warming, from curbing flooding to new farming methods for drought-stricken areas.

The United Nations wants to get poorer countries to be included in a new deal to curb climate change after 2012 when the Kyoto protocol expires. Aid to help poor nations adapt to climate change was seen as a carrot for them to participate.

OPEC delegates were not available to comment on WWF's report.

Despite their oil riches, Saudi Arabia and the other OPEC nations are in the same climate talks group -- the G77 -- with poor nations from Africa, Asia or Latin America.

The WWF said OPEC and Saudi Arabia have cornered G77 leadership since oil-producing nations usually have more resources than poorer nations to take on that role.

"Saudi Arabia is holding the poorest countries of the world ransom for its own self-interest," said Jennifer Morgan, director of WWF's climate change program, after publishing a report on OPEC's role in the UN effort.

"It is aggressively linking progress on its own agenda with that of the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable countries, thus blocking those countries from getting the support they need."

Most industrialized countries, with the notable exception of the United States, have signed the Kyoto protocol to cut by 5 percent their greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 compared to 1990.


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