Guyana among countries that will face brunt of climate disaster- Pres. Ali tells UN

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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Guyana is among those vulnerable countries that will be first to feel the full brunt of an impending disaster if urgent and necessary actions are not taken to protect countries from the adverse effects of climate change.

This is according to President Dr Irfaan Ali who was addressing other world leaders at the 76th United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. Then, the President lamented that climate change is a growing concern that has the ability to inflict even greater destruction than the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to research from the Royal Institute of International Affairs, worsening climate change will result in hunger, intense heat, flooding, and more pandemics caused by the rise of pests and diseases

Moreover, with heatwaves and drought, these impacts will likely drive unprecedented crop failure, food insecurity and migration.  Altogether, Dr Ali posited that these ramifications will drive political instability and greater national insecurity, and fuel regional and international conflict.

And, the Head-of-State posited: “Small island states and continental countries with low-lying coastlines, such as Guyana, would be the first to feel the full brunt of the impending disaster.”

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), climate change is the change in climate (the long term weather of a location) caused directly or indirectly by human activity and natural climate variability.

Climate change has become a crucial and fundamental consideration in regional and international talks because all people are affected by the harmful effects. These harmful occurrences include natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes as well as health concerns.

Even though Guyana and other small countries will be worst-affected, Dr Ali drew attention to the fact that these countries are among the lowest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing the least to the harmful and destructive effects of climate change.

Guyana, for example, is a net carbon sink because of its rainforests. The country absorbs more carbon (a gas that contributes to global warming and climate change) that is produced from human activity.

“But we have not folded our hands and sat back in satisfaction that we have done enough.

“We are continuing to contribute meaningfully to reducing global emissions and to the decarbonisation of the world’s economy, even though our country is now an oil and gas producer,” Dr Ali stressed.

He also highlighted that Guyana is striving towards the use of energy from more sustainable energy sources. These include solar, hydro and wind power.

Contrastingly, many of the larger countries and economies of the world have been criticised for not significantly reducing their emissions, much of which is produced by their factories and through their citizens’ consumption habits. These countries rely on unsustainable energy sources (fossil fuels) such as coal and oil.

And, the President said: “This is not only unfair, it is unjust.”

Cognisant of these realities, Dr Ali called out the larger countries and emphasised that they must do more to help with climate mitigation efforts.

“Failure to do so will shatter even more any confidence that the people of the world may still have that polluting nations will do the right thing,” he said.

It was only on Wednesday at the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Leaders’ Summit that President Ali and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley both underscored that island developing states and low-lying coastal states like Guyana are among the countries most affected by the harmful effects of climate change.

As such, they contended that these states need the necessary finance to aid their development.

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