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Theorising the climate change accountability of Persian Gulf petrostates

Mason, Michael ORCID: 0000-0002-8831-0593 (2023) Theorising the climate change accountability of Persian Gulf petrostates. Environmental Policy and Governance, 33 (6). 631 - 640. ISSN 1756-932X

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Identification Number: 10.1002/eet.2082


For states with political economies largely dependent on oil and natural gas rents, there seems to be little scope for accountability practices that answer for, and curb, fossil fuel production contributing to anthropogenic climate change. Critically engaging with rentier state theory, I examine the climate change accountability of Persian Gulf petrostates according to state responsibility norms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). For both domestic and international actions undertaken by these countries, there is no meaningful climate answerability for responsible actions—that they recognise and/or commit to the phasing down of their oil and natural gas production. There are differences in their emission reduction goals, under the Paris Agreement, that map onto variations in the stability and structure of their political economies, notably between the ‘super-rentier’ states (UAE, Kuwait and Qatar) and their rentier neighbours (Saudi Arabia and Oman). However, all make ritualistic, long-term commitments to ‘clean-carbon’ (net zero-emission) futures with no plans to reduce hydrocarbon exports. I argue that international climate change obligations should include a responsibility on states to reduce GHG emissions (at source) arising from their domestic- and foreign ownership of operational oil and gas fields. State energy companies in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere are key actors in fossil fuel extraction, yet remain insulated, through their corporate identities, from state responsibility norms. Treating state ownership of fossil fuels as a legitimate target of international climate regulation would broaden state accountability for climate change harm.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 09:48
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 04:09

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