CARICOM leaders expected at Guyana energy conference

--focus on oil and ‘green’ energy

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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Some leaders of countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), alongside other high-level participants and businesses, are expected to be in Guyana for the International Energy Conference and Expo slated for February 15 to 18, 2022.

The conference will be held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown. The leaders could not yet be named but the News Room understands that a delegation from Suriname is expected.

The conference’s Public Relations Advisor Alex Graham says that there are key expected outcomes from this conference. These include: identifying business and investment opportunities, establishing a trade show that will run alongside the conference, discussing local content and capacity buildings and emphasising safety within the industry.

Meanwhile the Conference’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Angenie Abel emphasised, “We want to ensure that our programme not only caters to business and investment but capacity building.”

What distinguishes this conference, according to Graham, is that there has been a concerted effort placed on including policymakers such as Heads of Government and other government officials, and the business players in the discussions.

And this is particularly important since the conversation on energy includes non-renewable energy (such as oil and natural gas) and renewable energy (such as solar energy and hydropower).

Graham explained that the new oil producers in the region- Guyana and Suriname- recognise that they might have entered the oil and gas industry a bit late because there is a growing focus on the need for more renewable energy sources to help with the protection of the environment.

“… the pressure is on for renewable (energy) and I think we understand that and that is why we want to ensure that our conversation covers the entire range of energy issues,” Graham said in response to a question posed by the News Room.

He later added: “That’s why it is important that we have policy-makers in the room as we have these discussions because policy-makers are the ones who are really under pressure to make the changes by 2050.”

What Graham was referencing is the United Nations (UN)’s Paris Agreement, which is an international agreement on climate change mitigation. The goal of this agreement is to limit global warming below two degrees celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees.

Global warming is caused by the release of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere and this contributes to climate change. Natural disasters, such as flooding experienced by Guyana, are associated with climate change.

Guyana has consented to this agreement and it is also working towards maintaining its net-zero carbon dioxide emissions status alongside its oil and gas pursuits. That is, the country is already removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it is producing and releasing.

As part of the impetus under the Paris Agreement, many countries are working towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Graham explained that there are industry leaders who would like to exploit all the resources and generate profits but this must be placed in the context of the move towards ‘greener’ energy.

“One of the things we are expecting to do at this conference is to start the conversation to establish that clear pathway that strikes the right balance between taking advantage of- for as long as we could- the energy resources that we have, as well as preparing ourselves for what the real energy future of the region is going to be,” Graham said.

Similar discussions are expected at the UN Climate Change Conference- COP 26- which will be slated for November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Guyana will be attending this conference and it is expected that the country will talk up its green (or sustainable) agenda while pursuing oil and gas development.

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