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iN Focus: cop21

veNezuela: the

climate paradox oF

the petro-state

Dependent on oil exports, the South American country is fraught with contradictons as it resists overhaul of
fossil fuels.

by alex Pashley

Awash with the world’s cheapest gasoline, more oil not less is the Confrontng climate change is decidedly low on the priority list for
way out of Venezuela’s economic ruin. the country with Latn America’s second dirtest energy sector.
Basic goods shortages, runaway infaton and a debased currency are Climate justce fghter
sufocatng Nicolas Maduro’s two-year presidency. But it is has been a prominent voice throughout years of UN-backed
negotatons to broker a global agreement.
As sliding oil prices halt drilling and deprive it of vital export earnings,
fossil fuels for the OPEC member with the planet’s largest proven oil Venezuela clamours for rich natons to assume “historic
reserves are everything. responsibility” in causing climate change, heaping scorn on the United
States and the West in appeals for climate justce. Western observers,
“The Orinoco Belt is the cash cow,” Russ Dallen, a Miami-based head for their part, see it as a truculent saboteur of climate talks .
bond trader at Caracas Capital Markets, said of the 513 million barrel
basin of heavy crude deposits. “Aside oil, the government has no Its revered former leader Hugo Chavez said if the climate were a
other means of income.” bank, the West would have bailed it out already.

An old car painted in the Venezuelan colours drives through the capital of Caracas in 2006. Fossil fuel subsidies total $12 billion a year.
Photo: © ruurmo l

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