President Bharrat Jagdeo, addressing the 17th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, in New York, told the gathering that it will be mathematically impossible to avoid catastrophic climate change without the developing world being able to take a more sustainable path to their future development.
The Head of State added that Copenhagen must create financing flows and technology transfer to enable the significant abatement potential of the developing world to become part of the solution.
This, the Head of State said, won’t be cheap as latest estimates suggest that the global flows to the developing world will need to be about 60 billion Euros per annum by 2020 but it will be good value for money because the investment will prevent emissions far more cheaply than many of the abatement solutions that are being pursued in the developed world.
The United Nations climate summit, which will be held in December in Copenhagen, Denmark, will be the last time the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meet on a government level to forge a new global climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
In 2012, the Kyoto Protocol to prevent climate changes and global warming expires.
The Guyanese leader was the only Head of State from the region invited to address the United Nations conference, President Jagdeo also said that through its Avoided Deforestation Initiative, Guyana aims to provide the world with a model of how this could be realized in a sustainable manner.
According to President Jagdeo, it is vital that participants are bold in ambition at Copenhagen noting that “climate change is a far greater threat than the collapse of any bank, so the world needs to act with the same urgency it displayed when wrestling with the worst of the last year’s financial collapses.”
The President stated that the science of Climate change is very compelling and when countries meet in Copenhagen, it is essential that the world’s historic polluters make meaningful commitments to reduce emissions.
He noted that “if the current global economic crisis is used as an excuse to pull back from making these commitments, it will send a disastrous signal to the developing world that action on climate change can only take place during times of prosperity.”
However, President Jagdeo pointed out that if the countries of today’s developed world accept their responsibilities, he believes that the developing world in general will be willing to play their part.
“This is in everyone’s interest even though per capita today, most developing countries emit a fraction of the emissions of the developed countries, as we become more prosperous, the entire world will benefit if we avoid the high pollution path that today’s richer countries followed.”
According to him, if the developed world steps up to its responsibilities, those who lead developing countries should be willing to be part of the solution.
“This becomes particularly evident in rainforest countries like mine over 80 per cent of Guyana’s territory is pristine forest and we want it to stay that way. But we are acutely conscious that preserving our forest comes at an economic cost to our nation today.”
He stated that the world values timber and the agricultural products that can be harvested after timber has been cleared. “It does not value forests when they are kept alive. Yet it is increasingly well-known that deforestation causes 17 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions; that’s more than all the world’s planes, trains, trucks and automobiles put together.”
What is less well-known, the President pointed out, is that more sustainable use of forest and agricultural land can deliver 37 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas abatement potential between now and 2020.
“This is because of the lead times required for many other abatement options it takes years to build new renewable energy plants and other options such as Carbon Capture and Storage have a long time to go before the technology is proven.
“My Government supports calls to cut net global deforestation in half by 2020, and to make the global forestry sector carbon neutral by 2030 where greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation are balanced by new forest growth.
“If the Copenhagen agreement fails to create the financial incentives to address deforestation, the costs of inaction will dwarf the investments that are required to solve this part of the climate problem.”
He noted that Guyana will be willing to provide the world with a model of how this could happen quickly, and conducted sustainably. For two years now, Guyana has indicated its willingness to place its entire rainforest under long term protection if the international community finds the right way to include forestry within a broader climate agreement.
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