UK pleased with Guyana’s plan towards greener future but presses need for urgency

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By Kurt Campbell

Kurt@newsroom.gy

The United Kingdom (UK) through its Regional Ambassador to Latin America and the Caribbean Fiona Clouder and British High Commissioner Jane Miller have offered full support to Guyana’s push to use its oil and gas resources to bring immediate prosperity to Guyanese.

Clouder and Miller have also expressed satisfaction with the Guyana Government’s commitment to the global climate agenda and towards the use of renewable sources of energy – a green future.

Clouder said she was particularly impressed with the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) where Guyana seeks to strike the balance between rapid economic development and preservation of the environment but said the message of urgency should not escape Guyanese officials.

“Just to reinforce the message about urgency. These issues are big, difficult and complex and it’s not going to be a smooth path to get there but making things happen quickly is important,” Clouder told the News Room at the sidelines of the International Energy Conference and Expo in Georgetown on Wednesday.

President Irfaan Ali set the tone of the conference at the opening on Tuesday, vowing that Guyana will neither back down from its aggressive pursuit of the energy sector nor its commitment to climate change.

Dr. Ali said Guyana will stand by the commitments it made even before the discovery of oil here but he noted that it will do nothing to slow the country’s development using its oil and gas resources.

Guyana is pursuing a renewable energy mix of natural gas, solar, wind and hydro. There is also collaboration ongoing with Suriname and Brazil to develop an energy corridor to offer support to the regional agenda.

Clouder said this is “understandable” but emphasised that achieving the 1.5 degrees goal of limiting global warming was particularly important for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean since they are increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

And so, these countries should focus on reducing their use of fossils fuels like oil, thereby limiting harmful emissions and ensuring adaption and resilience.

“It’s how Guyana use that boom in investment to move quickly towards a more sustainable future,” Clouder added.

Regional heads have, however, maintained that there is a greater need for developed countries to reduce their emissions if the goal is saving the world.

The UK has doubled its contributions to international climate finance to $11 billion pounds and is now looking to offer specific assistance to countries like Guyana to ensure there is access to that finance which will help the country to move its plan into implementation.

“It’s not just Guyana that has struggled to get access but we have a new program to support countries to access the finance and be transformative,” Miller said.

She also pointed to bilateral cooperation between Guyana and the UK with the construction of the UK funded all-weather Linden to Mabura road forming part of the adaption story.

Miller said Guyana had set the right theme for the conference ‘charting a sustainable energy future’ and said that while oil and gas and be transformative for the country’s development, she welcomes the green energy mix being talked about for the future.

“It doesn’t happen overnight and there has to be a transition plan… the LCDS is about that trajectory, it’s a good trajectory.

“The plan is there. The more the government speaks, the more I hear the details articulated and what a huge amount of hard work it will be,” Miller said.

The government maintains that Guyana is a good global partner in mitigating climate change all while it exploits its natural resources which has seen flaring in recent months.

Guyana has committed to cutting its dependency on fossil fuels by over 70 per cent by 2030.

Guyana remains a global leader on climate change, eco-systems and biodiversity, presenting 18.3 million hectares of standing forests which stores 19.5 gigatons of carbons worth conservatively US$195 billion.

Deforestation currently stands at 0.05%, allowing the country to harvest one million cubic meters a year but only 400,000 is being harvested at present.

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