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Al Gore wants to weaken petrostates' power over global climate decisions

Akshat Rathi, Oscar Boyd, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

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Former Vice President Al Gore said the annual United Nations COP climate summits need to be reformed so that petrostates don’t wield so much power over the final outcome.

The meetings are run by consensus, meaning any one country can block an agreement. It was a condition that Saudi Arabia enforced by not allowing voting rules to be agreed at the start of the COP process in 1995. As a result, whatever the nearly 200 countries gathered at COP28 in Dubai this month decide to do to tackle global warming will reflect only the minimum steps that all nations are willing to take.

“The situation that leaves our world community in is that we have to beg for permission from the petrostates,” to “protect the future of humanity,” Gore said at the Bloomberg Green summit at COP28 on Tuesday. And time and again, he said, the answer from petrostates is “no, sorry.”

On Monday, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in a Bloomberg TV interview his country would “absolutely not” accept language committing to a fossil fuel phase down — already the weaker version of language around ending dirty energy that’s being negotiated by diplomats.


Countries could put forward a proposal to change the voting rules under the U.N. climate body’s treaty, but it has to be done six months before the next COP.

Gore said he plans to gather advocates to push for decisions to be approved by a super majority of 75% of nations before COP29. It would be “extremely difficult,” he said, but “the stakes are so high that we have to try every strategy.

”Separately, Gore told Bloomberg Green’s Zero podcast that he believes the process through which the COP host country is selected should also be changed.Currently, the presidency rotates through different regions of the world and interested countries compete for the presidency. But, again, any member state can block a decision. COP29 is scheduled to be held in an Eastern European country, but Russia has said it will veto any bid by a European Union member because of its support for Ukraine.

“The U.N. Secretary General should share the authority for naming the COP,” he said. “We have to change this process. It’s just not fit for purpose.”

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