Net-Zero emissions by 2050
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President Dr Irfaan Ali
President Dr Irfaan Ali

— a development priority for the Region, says President Ali
— cannot be abstract of food security, economic growth and national prosperity

PRESIDENT Dr Irfaan Ali on Monday said that reaching Net-Zero emissions by 2050 is essential for development of the Region, but it would only be possible if the global system rectifies its inherent disparities and unevenness.

In his keynote address to over 300 participants at the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Conference 2022, the President said that achieving the target is imperative to the survival of the planet, but more so for Small Island Developing States and Low-lying Coastal Nations.

“We should not be asking ourselves whether we can achieve Net Zero by 2050, but whether we can afford not to. The scientific community has made its predictions: life on the planet will become perilous should the rise in global temperatures not be checked.  The target of Net-Zero by 2050 is therefore imperative for the survival of the planet.”

The three-day conference, hosted by the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, is themed “Can we achieve Net Zero by 2050”?

According to the President, it is relevant and timely because it allows the Region to discuss the critical questions and to come up with needed solutions.

“As all global leaders agree, the big question is how can this be achieved? Is the capital available? Is investment available? Is the technology available? Are the costs affordable? Beyond the pledges, are commitments being kept?”

He emphasised that achieving Net Zero cannot be abstract of food security, good social services, economic growth and national prosperity. He noted, too, that nations also need to be prepared to address developmental gaps, global inequality and disparities, and uneven trade relations, as all these factors are hindrances in achieving the target.

President Ali called on the participants to reflect on their readiness to respond in the wake of “death and economic destruction,” as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. He pointed to “vaccine diplomacy, disparity, inequality” and the effects on “people in low-income countries.”

“Here is an example of the results so far; 62.1 per cent of the global population is now vaccinated with at least one dose, but guess what? Only 9.5 per cent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. The question is, why? And the answer, you all know it.”

He said that whilst these very countries must invest to achieve this global target, they must also survive and meet their immediate needs.

“This recent test of global resolve did not give much hope.”

The President pointed out that as much as Small-Island Developing States and the Low-lying Coastal States are not major contributors to climate change, the threats posed by the effects of climate change to the lives and livelihoods of their peoples are of serious concern.

He said that failure to address the global environmental crisis questions, in tandem with other developmental challenges, will be a recipe for setbacks.

Given this reality, the Head of State posed key questions for consideration: is our forest resource vworth more standing or dead? And if countries agree it is not only worth more but essential in achieving the Net-Zero target, is the world willing to pay the value of keeping it alive?

Secondly, with regard to the Blue Economy, how important it is to achieve this target? And if we all agree, how willing are we to monetise its value?

On the final point, President Ali said that while there are many examples in ecosystems, biodiversity and environmental services that are all critical in alternative revenue streams, key to achieving Net Zero, the question is the same, is the market ready to pay?

“After all, survival requires resources, and if we value the survival of the planet, we must value the importance of these services and incentivise the world to safeguard these in achieving Net- Zero.”

In the area of energy security, the Head of State said that we cannot reduce energy generation in the near or medium-term, since it will impact negatively on economic growth and prosperity. It is therefore important, he noted, to ensure that energy security by diversifying generation more towards cleaner sources.

President Ali assured conference participants that energy security remains central to Guyana’s plans for Net-Zero by 2050. However, he stressed that environmental sustainability is not founded solely on energy security. He reminded participants that Guyana was among the first regional economies to develop a Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS); the agreement provided a model of how a country can sustainably manage its forests and secure payments in return.

The LCDS, he added, is being expanded to include the provision of environmental services, the protection of biodiversity and water resources, the development of marine economy and the promotion of climate resilience. The enhanced LCDS would allow Guyana to further decarbonise onshore economic activities, thereby further reducing carbon emissions.

He said that Guyana is also committed to the wider goal of energy security for the countries of the northern cone of South America: Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana.

“Just last Thursday, I, met with the presidents of Brazil and Suriname, and we agreed through a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the development of an energy corridor linking our respective states.”

Guyana, he reiterated, will remain a strong advocate for greater international cooperation to reverse the adverse effects of climate change. And it will lead through not only its advocacy, but also through its example. (Office of the President)

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