Even with Exxon Mobil’s oil and gas productions, Guyana will still remain a net-zero global carbon emitter, and will continue to have a position as a strong advocate in the reduction of carbon emissions.
However, it is unfair of activists to call for a ceasing on further investments in oil and gas developments and for small developing countries like Guyana to refrain from advancing an industry that could benefit its people.
This was the position of Guyana’s Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, as he made remarks during an executive dialogue presentation on Tuesday at the Offshore Technology Conference, currently ongoing in Houston, Texas.
Dr. Jagdeo presented on “Guyana: An Emerging Oil Industry in the Context of Net Zero Emission” and defended Guyana’s right to develop its oil and gas industry, even as it remains an advocate of lower carbon emissions.
“People calling for us not to develop an industry in a small country like Guyana have to understand that we cannot remain locked into a cycle of low carbon emissions but low income. Our people have a legitimate expectation of prosperity too,” Dr. Jagdeo established.
Over the years, Guyana has been seen as a country championing the advocacy for low carbon emissions. For some, the country’s development of its nascent oil and gas sector conflicts with this position.
Dr. Jagdeo called it “totally unfair” for advocates to call for Guyana to refrain from developing its industry.
“Many say to get to decarbonised future net-zero by 2050 there should be no further investment in oil and gas asset. We believe it is totally unfair,” Dr. Jagdeo said.
He believes that the country can do both.
“We can continue to do that and continue to advocate globally for a decarbonised world. We support removing subsidy on exploration. We support a carbon pricing that’s critical to send signals to the industry to invest in renewable,” he said.
Referencing the EU aim to be a climate-neutral economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Dr. Jagdeo noted that while many countries are striving to get there, Guyana has already achieved it.
“In Guyana’s case, we are already a net-zero emitter. Where the world is trying to get to by 2050, Guyana is already there as a net global emitter,” Dr. Jadgeo stated.
“We can grow this industry in a major way while maintaining our environmental credentials. We can advocate for net global emissions to try to have a decarbonised world, all without conflicting with each other and then doing all of these things to create the conditions for the prosperity of our people.”
He noted that Guyana’s position as a net-zero emitter can still be expected to be maintained even as Guyana’s economy grows over the coming years and sees increased energy consumptions. This will be particularly due to Guyana’s investment in other sources of energy outside of fossil fuels.
“In future, we expect to increase capacity four-fold for our national installed capacity in terms of megawatt but because of new energy mix – gas, hydro, solar – we still will emit about the same carbon that we are emitting today but with four times the national capacity,” Dr. Jagdeo explained.
Dr. Jagdeo further pointed out that with the global demand for fossil fuel not abating anytime soon if small nations pull out of the oil and gas industry, all that will do is leave a bigger market share for larger producers.
“If we freeze all oil and gas investment now, particularly in small countries like Guyana then effectively we are lobbying for a monopoly for existing producers,” Dr. Jagdeo indicated.
“What activists are doing is they want to lock this investment in for the incumbents. Why should we not want to displace some of the higher-cost producers in the world? We want to share in that market too.”
Moreover, Dr. Jagdeo pointed out that Guyana has been doing more than its fair share in removing carbon emissions and contributing positively to reducing climate change through its forests.
“The forest in Guyana has been making a huge contribution to fight against climate change. Estimated, our forest produces about US$54B ecosystem services to the world,” Jagdeo noted.
“We will continue to advocate globally for changes. Pursue rigid, strong LCDS and we will develop the industry in a manner and put in place regulations for the industry to develop in a safe manner. Introduce cutting edge Low carbon strategy and ensure it brings benefit to our people.”