Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 07/2008

OPEC and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities

Tatiana Bosteels, Jacqueline Karas

November 2005

Chatham House


If the climate change negotiations are to move forward, new approaches will be needed to constructively engage with energy exporters in a transition towards a low carbon future. This in turn requires a better understanding of the position of the countries, their national interests and the interaction with wider political and economic priorities and trends.

This report examines OPEC countries in the climate negotiations; identifies key challenges and drivers in relation to wider domestic and political concerns; and examines the scope for more constructive discourse on climate change.

The focus on Algeria, Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and some Gulf states serves to represent a range of interests in the climate negotiations but also is in part a reflection of the limited information available on other OPEC members.

As we move forward into further negotiations on climate change - one of the most intractable problems of our time - there has never been a greater need for developing a common understanding of the different dimensions of the challenges and opportunities associated with it. This takes time, yet - if the scientists are right - little time is available to affect the transformation to a low carbon world. Thus, the intention of this report is to open up debate, to recognize any legitimate concerns of those engaged, and above all, to look forward to the scope for cooperation and collaboration on a goal that all have agreed: to avert a dangerous climate change.