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UNFCCC Executive Secretary Calls for Strategic and Efficient Use of Oil Emissions

14 June 2012: Speaking at the Fifth Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) International Seminar, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said progress in the international climate change negotiations is an opportunity, rather than a threat, for OPEC member States. 

Underscoring the key role of oil in the past, present and future, Figueres indicated that, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), a full implementation of current emission reduction pledges would not lead to a decrease in OPEC's market share production or revenues. She emphasized that even implementing climate change policies for the more ambitious scenario to limit average global temperature to less than 2ºC, oil revenues in 2035 will still be three times higher than over the last 25 years, according to the World Energy Outlook.

Noting that making the transition to a low-carbon society is "inevitable," she underscored other key reasons for OPEC members to act to combat climate change, including that it is in their own long-term interest the avoidance of the worst climate change impacts on their own economies and societies. Underscoring the end of the easily-accessible "cheap oil," she also highlighted the increasing costs in oil extraction and production, as well as the involved risks in extraction of oil located in deep and difficult geographical areas.

Figueres called for ensuring that oil flows to the "highest value applications possible." She further explained that a strategic economic system should allocate oil to "the highest margin specialty markets," in order to generate "the most amount of economic benefit for each barrel of oil's emissions."

The Fifth OPEC International Seminar, organized under the theme of "Petroleum: Fuelling Prosperity, Supporting Sustainability," took place in Vienna, Austria, from 13-14 June 2012. [UNFCCC Executive Secretary Statement]