By Vishani Ragobeer
Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali has contended that oil and natural gas, both non-renewable sources of energy, will be used for a much longer time in the Caribbean as the region seeks to meet its developmental needs and adequately feed its people.
In what he described as a frank address at the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference on Monday, President Ali said that the Caribbean is confronted by several stark realities that challenge the region’s ability to use more environmentally friendly, renewable sources of energy.
“We’re seeing imported inflation, rising cost of energy…but we have seen some strange movements also.
“Whilst these crises are coming at us like a tsunami, we have seen some strange movements (which), in my view, are not rooted in facts and reality but rooted in a policy agenda driven by a few countries,” the President lamented.
Further, he said the Ukraine/ Russia crisis contributed to food shortages while the region continues to battle the climate crisis that manifests in devastating natural disasters.
But the Guyanese Head of State explained that these multiple factors do not only influence the current cost of goods and services for people in the region but constrain the region’s ability to transition to more renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydro power.
Countries in the Caribbean and around the globe are committed to reducing their dependency on fossil fuels (like diesel and natural gas) and using more renewable sources as part of efforts to slow the climate crisis and save the environment.
In the Caribbean, however, doing so is no easy pursuit.
Countries are simply bogged down by their pressing developmental needs, constantly battling natural disasters and keeping up with global challenges, the Head of State stressed.
“So we can safely say in this region, fossil fuel and natural gas have a long future ahead of us.
“No big scientific analysis required, it is based on what is in front of us,” President Ali pointedly said.
The situation is not entirely hopeless, however. The President said that countries have resources that can help them meet their needs while aiding the transition to more renewable energy sources.
One key resource is natural gas- a fuel with increasing global demand and higher prices, the President said. With a stable supply of energy, the President posited that increased food production can be achieved.
“For the energy security of this region, I once again reinforce the call that every country in the region with potential for natural gas should be allowed to explore that potential to the fullest,” he said.
Speaking directly to the Trinidadian population, he said that the Twin Island Republic has the natural gas potential and the country should be allowed to exploit those resources.
And he said that private sector investments are needed to push efforts to harness natural gas and fuel developmental projects since governments across the region are highly-indebted
Still, Dr. Ali clarified that he is, in no way, against the infusion of renewable energy sources. He was simply laying out the stark reality Caribbean countries are confronted by.