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Saudis threatening to block key UN climate report: sources

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Saudi Arabia is reportedly trying to block a key UN report meant to address global warming over speculations that it could eventually target the kingdom’s main source of revenue – exports of oil.

The 500-page document explores the means of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Most pathways entail a sharp reduction in the use of fossil fuels — Saudi Arabia’s key export.

The report is being examined at the 195-nation meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the South Korean city of Incheon, 27 kilometers (16 miles) away from the capital Seoul. The gathering of the scientific body, which is run under the auspices of the UN, went into overtime on Saturday.

“We are very concerned that a single country is threatening to hold up adoption of the IPCC Special Report if scientific findings are not changed or deleted according to its demands,” said an informed observer who asked not to be named. The source, along with two other people with direct knowledge of the situation, identified the country as Saudi Arabia.

“This has become a battle between Saudi Arabia, a rich oil producer, and small island states threatened with extinction,” said another participant at the meeting who also requested anonymity.

Independent website Climate News Home, meanwhile, cited one source as saying that the Saudi diplomats wanted to emphasize the costs of climate action and downplay the sustainable development benefits.

“The report hangs in the balance,” Hoesung Lee, the meeting’s chair said.

The report is based on 6,000 peer reviewed studies.

Scientists and climate activists have called on countries to ratchet up their carbon-cutting pledges as soon as possible.

The chairs of an IPCC meeting can override an objection from one or a few countries if the talks lead to a deadlock, recording the objection in a footnote.

“It’s quite rare that a government will be willing to have their name on the bottom of the page with an asterisk,” Jonathan Lynn, head of communications for the IPCC, said last week. “We do everything we can to avoid it,” he added.

During the Incheon talks, “the Saudis have been running interference across the board, on main and minor issues,” a participant in the meeting said.

Riyadh has long been known for throwing tantrums at UN climate forums.

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