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Saudi Arabia Sees Need to Act on Climate Change

Source: Reuters 12/6/2012, Location: Middle East

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia said scientific evidence showed the need for the world to act on climate change, although it stopped short of making any pledge to cut its own emissions.

Officials from the kingdom, led by the Saudi Arabian oil minister, were speaking at United Nations climate change talks in Qatar, a gas and oil power that has the world's largest per-capita greenhouse gas emissions.

"We believe that all people, and all governments, share this responsibility and each and every one of us has a role to play, taking into account the need for developed countries to take the lead in this regard, based on their historical responsibility," Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said in a speech.

Naimi said the kingdom was "striving hard to diversify its economy away from over-reliance on hydrocarbons". Saudi Arabia has been working to boost the share of renewables, particularly solar, in its energy mix, as part of a broader effort to diversify its oil-focused economy.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said the world will depend on fossil fuels for decades to come, but says technological advances can help to manage the consequences.

It is implementing carbon capture storage in the world's biggest oilfield, Ghawar, where injecting carbon dioxide back into the field helps to raise pressure and increase oil output, as well as trapping planet-warming gas.

Speaking earlier on Wednesday, a senior Saudi official, who asked not to be named, told reporters Saudi Arabia was taking the climate change issue "seriously.

"Based on scientific evidence on climate change, the world needs to take action," he said.

But asked if Saudi Arabia was willing to pledge to cut its emissions within a specific period of time, the official declined to provide a figure.

The U.N. climate change talks that continue all week in the Qatari capital, Doha, aim for an agreement on how to build on the Kyoto pact on tackling climate change, which runs out at the end of this year. Without that treaty, there is no binding international pact to curb climate emissions.

Negotiators are seeking ways to bridge several gaps, including on financing to help poor nations manage the consequences of climate change and on emissions pledges.

So far, too few countries are making the kind of commitments to cut emissions that scientists say are needed to keep global warming below the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) limit that should ward off the most devastating effects of climate change.

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