Saudi Arabia's Money-for-No-Oil Scheme Dubbed a Real Knee-Slapper

A bizarre proposal by the Saudi government has critics in awe

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Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has a bold new plan to curb greenhouse gases: pay them for the right to stop using so much oil. As The New York Times reports, the Saudis have proposed that countries looking to reduce oil consumption fork over cash as compensation to oil producers. The measure would secure Saudi Arabia's cooperation on climate talks in Copenhagen and would allegedly give the country the kick in the pants it needs to diversify its economy. But the idea of paying Saudi Arabia for oil that's not being used has sparked ridicule, scorn and bemusement across the web. Here are the most savory takes:

  • You Need Our Money to Diversify Your Economy? asks The Economist: "If the billions of dollars per day the world has been sending oil producers for years now haven't been enough to fund diversification, I'm not really sure what will be." Echoing the sentiment, Matthew Yglesias compares Saudi Arabia to its oil-rich brethren: "It’s interesting to look at the range of policy responses different countries have had to oil wealth. Norway has been incredibly far-sighted, while Abu Dhabi and Qatar also score quite well. All the way on the other end of the spectrum are Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. And then there’s Saudi Arabia, kind of the oil exporters and apparently world champions in chutzpah."
  • Worst Idea Ever, writes Will Bunch at the Philadelphia Daily News: "I always thought that toppling these corrupt, torturing desert oligarchs was one of the main reasons for not using so much foreign oil, almost as much as saving the environment. That said, I'm not surprised that the Saudis would resort to this idea -- once you've proven that you're good at terrorism, extortion isn't that big of a deal, is it?" Raw Story adds, "If you thought the executives at Goldman Sachs were the kings of backroom finance, think again. Goldman Sachs, meet Saudi King Abdullah."
  • Get to the Back of the Line, Saudi Arabia, writes Daniel Drezner at Foreign Policy: "What I do find particularly amusing is that if one thought about compensating dirty energy producers for the costs of climate change mitigation, then oil producers would be close to the back of the line.  Coal-producing economies -- like China and the United States -- would be justified in demanding much greater levels of compensation, since coal is a much dirtier energy source.  Oil would be in front of natural gas producers, and that's about it."
  • Yes, Let's Subsidize the Saudi Lifestyle, laughs McQ at QandO: "Gee maybe if they hadn’t spent billions on spreading their radical brand of Islam they’d be in better financial shape. What’s happened, however, is they have become accustomed to a particular style of life. They like having Filipinos and Indonesians waiting on them hand and foot and living in virtual slavery. They want to continue to spread their poisonous religion and have you pay for it. They enjoy the profligate life-style and by gosh, they expect you to continue to subsidize it."
  • Because the Saudis Will Spend It Wisely, Right? smirks Michael O'Hare at Same Facts: "They have had more than half a century to accumulate wealth beyond the wildest imagination of people who work for a living, simply because they were struck by underground magic lightning where they happened to have pitched their tents.  That wealth could have made them the most educated, productive, creative, fixed-for-centuries society in the world, but they chose to spend it becoming the most incompetent, dependent, and primitive.  Now these parasites propose that the world owes them this lifestyle even if our taste for oil changes to a taste for planetary survival?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.