Biden’s Plan To ‘Embarrass’ The Saudis Into Going ‘Green’ Totally Backfired
President Joe Biden’s strategy to coax Saudi Arabia into embracing climate-friendly policies backfired during his visit to the region Friday and Saturday.
Biden failed to extract a clear commitment to increase oil production from Saudi Arabia on Friday after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, criticized Biden’s green energy policies at a U.S.-Arab summit Saturday, according to commodities analysis and news firm Argus. [bold, links added]
At the same time, the Biden administration has reportedly escalated pressure on Saudi Arabia to decrease carbon emissions and transition to greener forms of energy, according to Politico.
Biden’s strategy is to “embarrass” Saudi Arabia into becoming tougher on climate, Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Strategic Director of International Climate Jake Schmidt told Politico on Friday.
“Adopting unrealistic policies to reduce emissions by excluding main sources of energy will lead in coming years to unprecedented inflation and an increase in energy prices, and rising unemployment and a worsening of serious social and security problems,” Prince Mohammed said Saturday, Argus reported.
“The Saudis, like other OPEC and OPEC+ producers, have been arguing that while yes, climate change is a very real issue and changes do need to be made, you cannot abandon hydrocarbons overnight,” Nader Itayim, Mideast Gulf editor at Argus, explained to the DCNF.
John Kerry, Biden’s special envoy for climate, reportedly made several trips to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in 2021 to work on climate arrangements as a way to put pressure on Saudi Arabia, according to Politico.
“Prince [Mohammed’s] statement expresses America’s own interests much better than President Biden’s various statements,” Myron Ebell, director at the Center for Energy & Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“I see no reason from the Saudi monarchy’s perspective to increase production or to play a more positive role in UN climate negotiations.”
Biden revived the Partnership Framework for Advancing Clean Energy with Saudi Arabia on developing renewable energy sources “to accelerate the world’s clean energy transition and to help the U.S. clean energy industry set global standards,” he said after his three-hour meeting with Prince Mohammed Friday.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 development agenda, created in 2016, outlines plans to reduce dependence on fossil fuel exports for revenue and increase the use of renewables.
Biden previously assured the American people that the oil supply would increase following a personal appeal to Prince Mohammad, bringing down prices at the gas pump.
“I’m doing all I can to increase the supply for the United States of America, which I expect to happen,” Biden said after the meeting. “The Saudis share that urgency.”
But Prince Mohammed also hedged on Saudi Arabia’s willingness and ability to increase production in the short term, promising to expand production capacity to 13 million barrels per day.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said in May the kingdom would reach that goal by 2027, according to Reuters.
Biden said he expected the results of his trip to Saudi Arabia would not materialize at the gas pump for “another couple of weeks.”
Crude oil prices topped $100 a barrel again Monday morning after a brief drop earlier in July, according to The Guardian.
“Traders got one clear message from Biden’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia … that it is OPEC+ that makes the oil supply decision, and the cartel isn’t remotely interested in what Biden is trying to achieve,” Avatrade chief market analyst Naeem Aslam told The Guardian.
“President Biden has been reduced to begging Saudi Arabia to increase their oil production because he has done so much to limit U.S. oil and natural gas production and discourage investment in new production,” said Ebell.
“With regard to the price of gasoline in the U.S., that’s really a function of a lack of refining capacity,” Saudi foreign affairs minister Adel al-Jubeir said, according to Argus. “The U.S. has not built a refinery in more than 40 years … so increasing crude oil supplies to the U.S. is not going to alleviate the problem.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia doubled imports of cheaper fuel oil, a distilled version of crude petroleum used in power generation, from Russia in the second quarter of 2022 to make its own unrefined crude available for export, Reuters reported.
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