GUYANA is in the process of finalising its presentation for the Glasgow Climate Conference scheduled for October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), each country is required to make an updated submission every five years. Guyana’s first submission was made in 2016 under the then APNU+AFC Coalition Government which turned out to be a disappointment and embarrassment to Guyana because of it unrealistic commitments.
In preparation for this important conference, the Office of the President, on Monday last, convened a stakeholder engagement session to discuss the revision of Guyana’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, countries are required to prepare and submit NDCs outlining their commitments to take action to address climate change.
The approach taken by the PPP/C administration to garner stakeholders’ input is quite in contrast to that of the previous Granger-led administration when no meaningful consultations were done on the way forward for Guyana as it relates to climate mitigation measures.
One consequence of such an ill-conceived submission was that it was completely at odds with current realities, which, as mentioned before, proved highly embarrassing to the country. Emission targets were set which were clearly unattainable and out of sync with policy guidelines as contained in our Low Carbon Development Strategy and the country’s National Development Strategy.
The consultation process currently underway is much more consultative and participatory in terms of stakeholders’ participation. It saw the participation of a wide range of stakeholders including those from civil society, Amerindian organisations, conservation organisations, the private sector and other government agencies, all of whom provided useful perspectives on the issue of climate change.
The political opposition was also invited but their participation was largely cosmetic without any concrete ideas other than attacks on the government and its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. It should be recalled that the then APNU+AFC administration in its submission of Guyana’s first NDC committed the country to move to a position of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, a mere four years from today, something no other country in the world had undertaken. This was clearly an unattainable target to reach given the current energy configuration in the country.
Despite such unrealistic commitments, the government made little attempt to realise such a commitment and instead aborted previous initiatives by the PPP/C administration such as the Amalia Falls Hydropower Project to reduce carbon emissions.
Following the consultation exercise, a draft revised NDC will be put to the public for stakeholders review and inputs ahead of the UNFCCC (COP 26) Climate Change Conference.
The fact is that Guyana is a new kid on the block in terms of the petroleum business which meant that it has to thread carefully with respect to carbon emission targets. This is why it is so important to have broad consultations with all stakeholders and interest groups in order to arrive at targets that are attainable and realistic.
The challenge facing Guyana is how best to optimise our oil and gas resources within the context of a decarbonised world. This is indeed a delicate balance and expert advice and guidance is needed. Thankfully, we have the benefit of several persons both at the technical and professional levels who can be relied on to represent our best interests.
This is why it is so important to have a coordinated position with other oil producing nations, especially those which are similarly positioned, as in the case of neighbouring Suriname. A meeting towards this end was recently held in Suriname in which Vice-President, Dr. Bharat Jagdeo, and Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat, represented Guyana.
Guyana has committed itself to a low carbon development path to development and has, in fact, been very proactive in reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuel.