Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al Saud on Thursday said that his country has not attempted to block any climate measures amid speculation that it is working behind the scenes to sabotage negotiations.
During the United Nations climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, a journalist asked Prince Abdulaziz to respond to claims that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, has been working to block climate measures that would threaten oil demand, according to The Associated Press.
“What you have been hearing is a false allegation and a cheat and a lie,” he said, adding that they have been "working well” with the head of the U.N. climate talks and others.
Negotiators from 200 countries convened to discuss the following steps to cut the world's fossil fuels and combat climate change. They are currently up against a weekend deadline to find a consensus.
Saudi Arabia's place in the discussion has been widely criticized. While they have pledged to efforts to cut emissions, the country's leaders have made it clear that they will sell the oil as long as there is a demand.
Other country representatives have also criticized Saudi Arabia's proposals at the conference. For example, Saudi's team has proposed quitting negotiations at 6 p.m., despite the meetings often lasting into the early morning hours. They also have given proposals that climate negotiation veterans say are complex efforts to play country factions against each other, the AP noted.
"They’re like, ‘Let’s just not work at nights and just accept that this is not going to be ambitious’ ” when it comes to fast cuts in fossil fuel pollution impacting climate, Jennifer Tollmann, an analyst at E3G, a European climate think tank, told the AP.
Saudi Arabia has made efforts in the past to diversify the economy, but oil accounts for more than half of the country's revenue, the AP reported.
Despite the complaints, Saudi Arabia has agreed to participate in climate measures. Just before the climate talks in Glasgow, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the kingdom would cut zero out its carbon emissions by 2060, according to the outlet.