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Saudi Arabia Wants Piece of $100 Billion Climate Fund for Clean Energy Transition

Saudi oil field

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After decades of growing increasingly wealthy from oil exports, Saudi Arabia has realized that it might not do so well if the world transitions to clean energy–and so it is asking for a piece of the UN’s $100 billion climate change fund to offset the economic challenges that lie ahead.

The climate change fund, established at December’s UN climate change conference, is supposed to help poor countries adjust to climate change. Saudi Arabia is, of course, a rich nation–and developing countries are none too happy that the Saudis are trying to take the cash that has been earmarked for them.

But according to Reuters, Saudi Arabia is arguing that it needs money to diversify, since oil exports may be slashed if climate change speeds up the switch to renewables. This would be devastating to the country; oil exports make up 90% of Saudi Arabia’s export earnings and half of its domestic earnings.

This isn’t Saudi Arabia’s only worry. Recent WikiLeaks cables revealed that the country’s oil reserves may be running out more quickly than anticipated.

Does this mean that the Saudis deserve money from the same pool of cash that will go to poorer nations? Saudi Arabia is already in the midst of building its largest solar power plant yet–a 3.5 MW solar park (the U.S. is on track to build solar plants that produce up to 30 MW). And it’s not as if the country is hurting too much economically at the moment. The country chose to put all of its eggs in the nonrenewable resource basket. It has had time–and the cash–to prepare for a transition. The same can’t be said for other countries (i.e. Bangladesh) that are also seeking a piece of the climate fund.

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.

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