Vienna, Mar 16: OPEC is concerned about climate change and hopes that new technology to capture and store carbon will succeed in helping to secure energy supplies and clean up the environment, the group's president said.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, source of more than a third of the world's oil, said its members devote time to the issue through individual studies and participation in international talks to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which is released from burning fossil fuels, are blamed by scientists for heating the earth, causing glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise.
''OPEC is as concerned as anyone else about environmental issues since, understandably enough, the citizens of our member countries also desire a cleaner, safer world in which to live,'' said Mohamed Bin Dhaen Al Hamli, energy minister from the United Arab Emirates, which currently holds the OPEC presidency.
''We are, after all, committed to reconciling the forecast rising use of hydrocarbons with a cleaner, safer global environment.'' He said the group was hopeful that carbon capture and storage technology would take off, creating benefits for the environment and potentially boosting extraction of oil and gas.
''Not only would the world be able to continue using its most commercially viable energy sources -- oil and gas -- in a carbon-constrained environment for decades to come, but it would also help increase the output from many mature fields,'' he said yesterday.
Environmental group Greenpeace said OPEC had a lot to prove it it wanted to convince the world it was concerned about climate change.
''We will actually believe it when they do something about it,'' said Mahi Sideridou, climate policy director at Greenpeace in Brussels.
She said OPEC nations have blocked progress on international climate change talks for 15 years and should put more emphasis on developing renewable enery sources such as wind and solar.
Climate change has risen to the top of the international agenda in recent months. The 27-nation European Union pledged last week to cut its greenhouse gases by 20 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2020.
Some legislative leaders in the United States, the world's biggest polluter, are also showing support for putting limits on industrial emissions, a key component of the international Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which President George W. Bush rejected in 2001.