Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, announced Saturday a multi-million-dollar fund to tackle global warming that is set to focus on finding technological solutions to the climate change problem.
Making the announcement at the opening of the third OPEC summit in Riyadh, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz said the kingdom will invest 300 million dollars (200 million euros) to develop technology to tackle climate change.
"I announce that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is giving an amount of 300 million dollars that will be basis of a programme that will finance research related to the future of energy, environment and climate change," he said.
The king described attempts to exaggerate the impact of oil on the environment and climate change as "erroneous."
OPEC ministers on Friday expressed support for carbon capture and storage, an emerging technology to trap carbon dioxide and store it underground.
"Protecting the planet" is one of three headline themes of the OPEC summit, a surprising focus for a group of oil producers whose wealth depends on their exports of fossil fuels.
Algeria's Energy Minister Chakib Khelil said Friday the final statement to be issued by OPEC leaders on Sunday will call for expanding the use of carbon capture and storage technology to curb carbon emissions.
A UN report released on Saturday said evidence of a human role in the warming of the planet was now "unequivocal" and the effects on the climate system could be "abrupt or irreversible."
Carbon capture technology, with which oil producer Norway, a non-OPEC member, is leading the way, consists of trapping carbon dioxide and storing it long-term underground.
The technology is based on removing harmful gases from major industrial activities, mainly power generation, and then storing it or injecting it into mature oilfields.
It has won support from the United States and the oil industry because it potentially offers a partial solution to the climate change problem without reducing dependence on oil or curbing consumption.
But it is only in the development stage and requires massive investment to make it commercially viable.
Three pilot projects are operating in Algeria, Canada and the North Sea off the Norwegian coast.
Some have also pointed to other drawbacks, notably that the underground storage chamber could rupture which would then release a huge bubble of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, worsening global warming at a stroke.
Nevertheless, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said Thursday here that a commitment to carbon capture would be "very constructive outcome of the deliberations at the heads of state level" at the OPEC summit. ( AFP )