–because of unrealistic energy pledge, VP Jagdeo explains
UNDER the David Granger-led government, Guyana appeared before the United Nations (UN), boldly pledging to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025. However, the proposal was not accompanied by any plausible project or implementation strategy, according to Vice-President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.
As a result, when this year’s UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is hosted this month end, Guyana will be forced to return to the global stage to admit to the impossibility of the pledge made by the then A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government.
Consequently, Dr. Jagdeo, on Tuesday, spearheaded a national stakeholder consultation aimed at updating Guyana’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which basically outlines the country’s response to climate change, and how it intends to achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, as adopted by 196 countries during COP21, hosted in Paris in December 2015.
The updated NDCs, according to Dr. Jagdeo, is an indication that Guyana will be “lowering its ambitions” at a time when most countries are aiming to, realistically, do better. “This proposal that we have here would be lowering our ambition, and that is what we wanted to avoid,” Dr. Jagdeo said.
He added, “We did not want to say to the rest of the world that the last government made a mess of everything; that it’s impossible to achieve their pledge.
The Vice-President said that even though the previous pledge was one that “sounded good”, it lacked capacity, and failed to include any sensible project which could achieve the brazenly touted results.
“For a very long time, we debated whether to submit new NDCs. Eventually we said we can’t continue to mislead the world; we have to come here and temper those figures,” the Vice-President noted.
The former Head of State also pointed to the fact that the APNU+AFC even went as far as “to kill” the iconic projects started by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, which could have brought the country closer to achieving its pledge.
The Vice-President, in addressing the stakeholder forum, made specific reference to the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, which was set to produce some 165 megawatts of power.
The initiative was conceptualised and launched in 2009 while Dr. Jagdeo was President.
But in 2013, it was voted down by the then majority parliamentary opposition, which comprised of APNU and AFC, respectively.
The back-and-forth in the National Assembly was said to be the reason that the project’s major investor, Sithe Global Incorporated, withdrew its support for the initiative.
“They killed the hydropower project, which would have seen decarbonisation by 90 per cent by 2017… Today, we would have probably been supplied by clean energy,” Dr. Jagdeo reflected.
In 2014, Norway, under its climate partnership with Guyana, transferred some US$80M to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to fund the project. “The resources were to change people’s lives; we set aside $17.2 million to improve telecommunications in the hinterland, and access there. We set aside over US$10 million for Amerindian Land Titling… I can go through every sector, and [what] monies were set aside for,” Jagdeo related.
Further, he said that the PPP/C Government had intentions of utilising the monies to buy equity in ‘hydro’. He lamented the fact that the APNU+AFC, during its 2015-2020 tenure, failed to utilise the funds to make meaningful change. “Nothing happened!” Jagdeo insisted.
Now that the PPP/C has returned to office, the Dr. Irfaan Ali-led administration has recommitted its intention to restart the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, which was a major component of Jagdeo’s globally-recognised Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
As a matter of fact, invitation for companies to bid to execute the project has already been released, and it is now slated to be up and running by 2025.
“Now we are in the process of utilising these resources that have been there since 2010 or a little bit later,” Dr. Jagdeo posited.
He reminded that the government is now in full pursuit of the establishment of a comprehensive energy mix aimed at utilising both natural gas, heavy fuel oil, and renewables such as ‘hydro’, wind and solar.
“We have laid out the road map on the energy sector,” Jagdeo noted.
He pointed to the fact that the PPP/C’s meticulous energy plan will also include the landmark US$900 million gas-to-energy project, which will see natural gases derived from the oil exploration efforts offshore Guyana being transported onshore to a power plant to be converted to energy, and fed to the national power grid.
The Vice-President said that as part of his government’s more realistic approach, the aim is to cut energy cost by 50 per cent in 2025. “We will still cut our emissions by 70 per cent; that’s realistic. We have projects to achieve that; we don’t just talk,” Jagdeo maintained.
‘FAKE’ AND UNSUSTAINABLE
He said that on the contrary, the entire Green State Strategy which was being embarked on by the David Granger Government was “fake” and unsustainable. “It had no project; it had no capacity to earn any money like we had…with forest carbon traded,” the Vice-President said.
Nonetheless, going forward, Jagdeo said that his government has already submitted a proposal to benefit from LEAF, which means ‘Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance’. It is a coalition which includes the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States and Norway, which conceptualised a $1 billion fund that offers capital to countries committed to arresting the decline of their tropical forests by 2030. “We have had positive news from them that our proposal has been accepted, and now we are hoping to get an offer soon,” Jagdeo said.
He added that a Memorandum of Understanding has already been signed with a Non-Governmental Organisation named Emergent, which will be conducting the transactions on Guyana’s behalf.
“In one year, that is what we have been doing; trying to earn again. The Green State was a burden on us; it had no source of financing. It was a recourse to the Treasury for all the climate initiatives,” Jagdeo noted.
He said that going forward, the PPP/C Government will be implementing the projects that will truly see Guyana becoming a ‘green’, sustainable State.