–recommits to balancing economy and environment
GUYANA’S current power generation systems have been contributing significantly towards carbon emissions into the environment, according to Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat, who has pledged the government’s commitment to providing Guyanese with sustainable energy. He made specific reference to the administration’s pursuit of a gas-to-shore project, as well as the establishment of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project (AFHP).
“We are bringing gas-to-shore, and having more reliable, cleaner, and cheaper electricity; that by itself, as a single project, stands to transform our country, and also provide incentives for us to venture into other cleaner and renewable energy sources,” Bharrat told those gathered at a tree-planting exercise organised by the Indian High Commission (IHC) in observance of World Environment Day on Saturday.
During the activity hosted at the Promenade Gardens in downtown Georgetown, Minister Bharrat reminded his audience that talks have also commenced with Norway to allow for the Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) to enter its second phase.
“That is important to us; it is also important for us to find alternative economic activities, especially in the hinterland and riverine communities, where the people in those communities depend on their environment and the forest for a livelihood,” Bharrat emphasised.
The minister acknowledged that the emergence of Guyana’s lucrative oil-and-gas sector has raised many questions as to whether the country will pursue economic expansion over the protection of the environment. To this, he said that “balance” will prevail.
He made specific reference to the recent clearing of mangroves from a private property along the western side of the Demerara River, where a Guyana-born businessman is looking to establish a shore-base for his company.
The minister acknowledged that as Guyana embarks on its journey towards massive transformation, “some amount of sacrifices will have to be made”.
He said that even though some amount of damage is inevitable in pursuing the development of certain sectors, the government’s intention is to ensure there is a critical balance between expanding the economy and maintaining the environment.
“Somewhere along the line, as a government and as a ministry, we need to balance the extraction of our natural resources with the protection of our environment,” the Natural Resources Minister noted.
He emphasised that systems will have to be put in place to ensure that whatever damage is incurred can be “off-set”. He said that for instance, the country will have to look towards increasing its mangrove plantations in other areas. “As an oil-producing nation, development will have to take place.”
He noted that despite being a small country, Guyana contributes significantly to supplying the world with oxygen.
“In Guyana, we boast one of the best and one of the most sustainable forest management systems, if not in this hemisphere, in the world; that is something that we are proud of, and we will maintain and try to grow from strength to strength,” the Natural Resources Minister said.
He noted that so far, Guyana has been doing well in terms of maintaining good environmental practices while pursuing profits.
“I don’t think we have done bad over the years, as a country, in contributing to the safeguard of our environment,” Minister Bharrat said, adding: “As a small country, we have been contributing significantly to the oxygen that the world breathes, and we will continue to do so, because we are blessed with a country; 87 per cent of our land mass is covered by forest.”
He said that the sustainable projects being crafted by the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) government will result in the transformation of the country’s landscape, “and at the same time, reduce the carbon emissions significantly”.