By Cindy Parkinson
Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, will be actively involved in negotiations during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate-Change Conference of the Parties (COP27), which began on Sunday in Egypt.
This was announced last week by Vice-President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, who said that solidary must be shown to African countries, who, despite being the smallest contributors to greenhouse gases, are facing the most “dire consequences” of climate change.
Speaking on the issue during a press conference, he said Guyana will play an active role in the negotiations in solidarity with the position of CARICOM. Guyana will also use the opportunity to advance its own national interests which are mainly centred around the forestry sector.
He said that discussions were held on the effectiveness of COP 27 since a lot of world leaders have decided not to attend.
Dr. Jagdeo related that a number of leaders made commitments that they did not follow through with.
Countries that led the fight to ban coal, for example, which is known as “the dirtiest fossil fuel,” have now restarted fire plants in their countries.
Additionally, there were countries that were against further investment in the oil and gas sector and were concerned that the assets would be stranded and be inconsistent with a net-zero scenario. Those countries are now urging the oil producers to produce more oil and have even been threatened by the United States of America so that they can have a production cut, Dr. Jagdeo said.
According to him, much of the promises that were made to Africa and other developing countries never materialised, particularly in the Kyoto Protocol and all the other COPs that were supposed to assist in the transition to greener energy, support the adaptation and provide at least $1 billion a year to support efforts.
“We have to give solidarity to those countries that are suffering the most from climate change and we should have greater accountability on the part of the developed world,” he said.
Prior to COP 26, he spoke at Rice University. There, he recognised the “hype” that is gained through conferences, pledges and declarations. He said that although the energy and enthusiasm were high, he was “worried” and “fearful” that it would dissipate after COP 26 and sure enough, it did.
He is hoping that COP 27 will hold the developed world accountable. He is asking that the $100 billion promised since 2009 be delivered along with the promise of double adaptation funding that was made during COP26.
Even though CARICOM has been championing climate change, Dr. Jagdeo mentioned that they have been very reluctant to deal with the issue as it relates to small island developing states.
“There isn’t simply enough money spent on renewable energy globally, although it has increased significantly. It’s not enough to displace the use of fossil fuels. The demand is growing for energy and if the renewable supply is not there, then that demand will be met by an increase in fossil fuel production and that’s the reality of the current world,” said Dr. Jagdeo.
He explained that it is estimated that Guyana’s forest extract is about 154 million tons of carbon per year, which is more than the emissions of three to four major European countries combined.
That supply means that although Guyana has a production of oil, the country still remains at net zero and a carbon negative country.
He added that the PPP/C administration is working to get Guyana’s forest carbon certified and 15 per cent of all the proceeds from the sale of forest carbon, including forest carbon from 2016, will go to the indigenous communities.
He said that government is working aggressively towards that venture and is optimistic that major progress will be made by the end of 2022.
Dr. Jagdeo related that Guyana has earned in excess of $200 million from Norway, through the sale of forest carbon, and that the government plans to add about 35 megawatts of solar energy from the grids in Linden, Berbice and Essequibo.
The government is also taking its obligations on climate change seriously with respect to the gas energy project with Amelia and the solar project.
With the mix of energy, Guyana will triple its generating capacity and cut carbon emissions from the sector by 70 per cent, he added