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Saudi Arabia and Russia go on the offense at climate talks

After Saudi Arabia announced it planned to reach net-zero emissions by 2060, the instant reaction for many was incredulity and bemusement.

In contrast to previous climate change summits, like COP21 that resulted in the Paris Agreement, Riyadh and Moscow feel they have an opening to convince the world that turning against fossil fuels completely would be unwise. Foto: AP/Hasan Jamali

On social media commentators competed to find the best analogies: it's like an abattoir saying its canteen will only serve vegetarian food, said one. Another quipped it sounded like a tobacco company announcing it's quiting smoking.

The reality is far more complex. After years of being on the defensive, Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world's top two oil exporters, have switched to a more active posture in global negotiations to avert climate change. The tactics have changed, but the strategy is the same: protect fossil fuel demand for as long as possible...

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