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UNFCCC Executive Secretary Stresses OPEC Members’ Role in Investing in Clean Sources of Energy

19 March 2009: Speaking at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Counties' (OPEC) Fourth International Seminar on Petroleum, organized around the theme “Petroleum: Future Stability and Sustainability,” which took place on 18-19 March 2009, in Vienna, Austria, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer underscored the importance of introducing climate-friendly technologies despite the fact that oil will remain a dominant source of energy in the near future.

While noting that a successful fight against climate change needs to entail transitioning the global economy onto a low-emissions pathway, he emphasized that a political solution to climate change should not threaten economic development either, especially for countries that depend on oil as their largest source of income. He added that “fighting climate change cannot realistically mean fighting oil. Fighting climate change means fighting emissions.”

De Boer explained how addressing climate change can contribute to addressing peak oil, and underlined that OPEC members have an important role to play in investing in research and development of clean sources of energy, thereby placing them “at the cutting edge of the transition to a low-emissions economy.” He stated that reaching a successful climate change deal at Copenhagen can ease the transition to a low-emissions pathway and contribute to the world's economic recovery.

He then outlined the four political prerequisites in order to reach success in Copenhagen, namely clarity on: ambitious targets for developed countries; nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries; how sufficient financial and technological support both for mitigation and adaptation will be generated; and the institutional framework to deliver support for mitigation and adaptation. In concluding, he stressed that “the year of climate change is also the year of opportunity.” [The Speech]