Immediate, drastic action needed to avert climate crisis – Attorney General

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Immediate and drastic action is needed to avoid “an infernal global disaster,” Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC said on Wednesday in an address to Parliamentarians around the world meeting for the 144th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Bali, Indonesia.

“Indifference and inaction equal nothing short of destruction,” he declared, noting that the world is behind in limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The rising temperatures have resulted in erratic weather patterns, with Guyana facing more intense rainfall, resulting in a national disaster in 2005 and just last year again. With Guyana facing a rising Atlantic further compounds the threat the country faces because of climate change.

“Climate change affects us all – rich, poor, developed and developed States – but its effects are more severe on the poorest and most vulnerable – especially Small Island Developing States and low-lying coastal states. For us, it is a question of survival.”

Attorney General Anil Nandlall addresses the 144th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly (Photo: Alanzo Scipio/Parliament of Guyana/March 23, 2022)

Mr Nandlall said immediate action is needed on three fronts.

First, he said all countries must set more ambitious goals to reduce emissions, “and we must honour, to the letter, those ambitions.”

The Attorney General said all countries have an obligation to act, but the world’s foremost polluters have a greater duty to institute steeper emission cuts.

Second, he said the pledge of US$100B per annum, made one decade ago, to support climate action must be met as “dishonoured pledges are recipe for disaster.”

Third, he said that because forests constitute a powerful arsenal in the fight against climate change, forest-rich countries (like Guyana) must be provided with the incentives necessary to keep their forests intact and reduce deforestation and forest degradation.

“Mindful that deforestation contributes 16% to annual global emissions and in recognition of the ecosystem and climate services provided by forests, it is imperative that we finalise the rules for carbon markets and REDD+ so as to properly value tropical forests and the climate services which they provide,” he stated.

The Attorney General pointed out that Guyana, by far, remains a net carbon sink by a significant margin where the 18 million hectares of largely intact forests in Guyana sequesters approximately 154 m tons of CO2 annually.

He added that the forest provides this important ecosystem function as one of nine countries of the Amazon; Guyana also has some of the highest forest cover on the earth along with one of the lowest deforestation rates.

The Attorney General further pointed out that Guyana is also part of the Guiana Shield which stores about a fifth of the world’s fresh water and about 18% of the world’s tropical carbon. It also has extremely high levels of biodiversity and endemism – with about 4% of all known animal species and even more bird species.

“Therefore, Guyana is already playing its part in addressing and will continue to do so.

“We will maintain our forests – almost the size of England and Scotland combined, storing 20 gigatons of carbon – a global asset.

“We will work with local communities in conserving, protecting and sustainably managing our forests, biodiversity and freshwater supplies.

“We will decouple economic growth and emissions through a progressively cleaner energy mix with the aim of reducing our carbon emissions by 70% by the year 2030.

“We will invest in low carbon opportunities for jobs, ecosystem services and social inclusion through an expanded Low Carbon Development Strategy,” the Attorney General stated.

He said that the government and the Parliament will continue to aggressively enact laws and regulations, promulgate and implement policies on climate change and promote low carbon development in every area of national life.

“The time for talk is over. The time for action is now. It is but a question of survival. Act now or continue on the road to definite perdition!”

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