Guyana prioritising ‘green’ investments amid oil boom
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United States Ambassador, Sarah-Ann Lynch
United States Ambassador, Sarah-Ann Lynch

–US Ambassador acknowledges

GUYANA has been making significant strides in sustaining a green economy by balancing development in its energy sector and non-oil resources, US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch has said.

The ambassador, in a recent appearance on the Plaza Central podcast, highlighted the efforts that have been and are being made to achieve sustainable development and utilise renewable energy.

“Guyana is well aware that oil is a finite resource, and they know that they need to invest a good portion of their oil and gas resources into renewable energy, and they are doing so and planning to do more of that,” Lynch said.

The country, for instance, has a sovereign wealth fund that replicates the Norway model, which sees the country saving the oil profits to invest in key development initiatives and transition away from fossil fuels.

“[Given the heavy dependence on fossil fuels] these funds should give them [Guyana] the ability to prioritise green investments. And they are looking at hydropower, [a] 165-megawatt facility in the central part of the country. They’re just starting to explore wind. And then they do have their flagship 300-megawatt gas to energy project, whereby they are viewing gas as a transition to the greener energy models,” the ambassador related.

She reiterated that the government’s top priority is to lower the cost of electricity, which is among the highest in the region.

Meanwhile, on the legislative side, she noted that Guyana has established a Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030, which addresses many issues.

“…It really lays out the Government of Guyana’s vision to balance energy security, food security and climate security. It’s more or less their economic development plan for the nation, and they had a good consultative process associated with it, which was very encouraging,” Ambassador Lynch said.

FORESTRY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Further, she added that Guyana’s rich forestry sector could become one of its greatest assets in achieving its renewable energy goals.

“86 per cent of the nation of Guyana is covered in forest and it stores 19.5 gigatonnes of carbon…so, if managed properly, the forest truly is their long-term asset, but they will need to continue to invest in forest and forest management,” the ambassador related.

She added: “Guyana does have one of the richest rainforests in the world and serves as one of the few carbon negative economies and so they are well aware that their forest must be protected. So there are a lot of encouraging signs on the green side of the equation here.”

Ambassador Lynch highlighted that Guyana has been eager to sign on to many climate initiatives like “REnovables in Latin America and the Caribbean” (RELAC), Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for Climate and the recent U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030).

These partnerships, according to the US ambassador, addresses climate crisis, with new, fresh commitments to climate adaptation, resilience and clean energy across the Caribbean.

“So, they’re very eager to sign up for these things. They well know the need to do so,” Lynch said, adding, however, that the country is faced with a challenge as it relates to capacity.

“What the issue is? The challenge is capacity,” she said, adding:” It’s a small country, small population of under a million people. They don’t currently have all the talent in all these areas to do everything that they want to do. So, they will need to import some talent to address these issues going forward. But the legislation is being put in place and the passion and commitment are there.”

There have been progressive steps locally to enhance the country’s human resource capacity, and those include the establishment of the Guyana Online Learning Academy (GOAL) scholarship initiative, plans for an oil and gas institute and other investments in areas of academia and technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

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