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Is OPEC Going Green?

OPEC members reveal things you might not have known about their organization.

October 19, 2000

OPEC members reveal things you might not have known about their organization.

With global oil prices on the rise, OPEC — the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations — is once again coming under fire from leaders in Western Europe and the United States. Clearly, the organization is in need of some good PR. This must have been foremost in its mind when it released a rather surprising series of resolutions following its recent summit in Caracas.

Surprisingly, OPEC sees itself as an “environment-friend” group:

“The organization asserts its … universal concern for the well-being of the global environment, and its readiness to continue to participate effectively in the global environmental debate and negotiations, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, to ensure a balanced and comprehensive outcome … to minimise the adverse social and economic impacts of their response measures on the countries whose economies are highly dependent on the production and export of fossil fuels.” (Resolution 10)

It even advocates the phasing out of less desirable forms of energy like, presumably, nuclear fuels:

“[OPEC supports] the use of both oil and gas in circumstances where they can be substituted for other fuels which are recognised as being damaging to the global environment.” (Resolution 11)

OPEC threw its support behind the World Bank’s debt relief initiative for developing countries:

“The debt levels of many Developing Countries have become unsustainable. We, therefore, call for substantive effort for debt reduction initiatives by the international donor community, including the urgent fulfilment of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.” (Resolution 13)

… as well as more general initiatives for developing country aid and poverty reduction:

“[OPEC heads of state] emphasize that economic and social development and the eradication of poverty should be the overriding global priority. To this end, OPEC will continue its historic record of taking the issues of the Developing Countries into full consideration, inter alia, through their individual aid programmes as well as through the OPEC Fund for International Development and the International Fund for Agricultural Development; and urges the industrialised countries to recognise that the biggest environmental tragedy facing the globe is human poverty.” (Resolution 12)

And for rich-country consumers, OPEC deplores the unjust burden of high energy taxes:

“OPEC expresses its … concern that taxation on petroleum products forms the largest component of the final price to the consumers in the major consuming countries, and calls upon them to reconsider their policies with the aim of alleviating this tax burden for the benefit of the consumers, just and equitable terms of trade between developing and developed countries, and for the sustainable growth of the world economy.” (Resolution 15)

Much like the IMF or the Federal Reserve, OPEC sees a role for itself as a stablilizer in the global economy:

“[OPEC] expresses its … firm commitment, as key participants in the global oil market, to continue providing adequate, timely and secure supplies of oil to consumers at fair and stable prices; and to emphasise the strong link between the security of supply and the security and transparency of world oil demand.” (Resolution 3)

The full text of the “Caracas Declaration” can be found on OPEC’s web site.