The climate change debate will rage on for decades, but Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy will by next year find itself abandoned like so many of our country’s development plans.
The Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) will be forgotten by the time a new President is elected sometime next year. It is not a strategy about Guyana’s future; it may be about President Jagdeo’s.
By the time the next general elections are held, Guyana will have no uses for the LCDS. There would have been new developmental paradigms to be explored.
The LCD has created some excitement, but it was always going to be a questionable initiative, one whose only genuine benefits has been the international recognition it has brought to our good President. He must be commended for the passion with which he has pursued this matter. He has gained greater international recognition than any other President of Guyana. He is now a global celebrity. All Guyana must be proud of his achievements. He has worked very hard and traveled many miles to achieve the acclaim that he has received.
In his eyes, the efforts have been worth it. Norway has committed to providing some two hundred and fifty million dollars.
But this is not money that we should be proud of. For one, no one has quantified the benefits that have been foregone in order to meet the conditions that would allow us to draw down on these resources.
The Norwegian deal is morally reprehensible. In effect, what we are doing is taking other people’s monies so as to allow them to meet their emission targets, not by cutting emissions, but by buying credits from us.
The Norwegians are effectively using us to allow them to avoid having to make the cuts which they need to make. This is no different from proposals which came from private parties years ago for Guyana to become the dumping ground for foreign rubbish. The money from Norway allows us to use our forests to clear up the environmental mess of Norway.
There is also the hope that somehow also we will benefit from not cutting down our trees. This is hedged on agreement on a global initiative to reward countries for practicing sustainable forest management.
This is all part of a strategy that seeks to use the Third World’s forests as a purifier of the West’s pollution and is heavily based on the reduction of emissions. Guyana believes that it can contribute and in the process, earn a lot of money by not chopping down its forests.
What the President and his advisers are missing is the emergence of new proposals within the international community – proposals that deemphasize the importance of reducing the emission of carbon dioxide. There is now a shift in emphasis away from carbon dioxide to other pollutants such as soot and methane.
This shift has its objectives. It will move the solutions away from forest conservation to a whole new range of solutions. These will include trying to reduce forms of pollution other than carbon dioxide and improving energy efficiency through technology.
This shift will have a devastating impact on global carbon markets on which the LCDS hangs. But that will not be the end of the LCDS.
By the time the next President of Guyana is sworn into office, it would have become clear that this strategy would be irrelevant to Guyana’s future needs.
Never mind those who argue that any future development plan has to address climate change.
What has to be addressed and what has been addressed in all development strategies is not climate change, but the effects of climate change.
And Guyana has been addressing these effects in every developmental model that has been produced from the National Development Strategy to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan.
Every single national developmental plan has paid attention to drainage, irrigation, sea defences and also the more ambitious plans, such as building hydroelectric plants.
The Green Revolution is nothing new. It has been tried before. We are being told that it will be just as big as the Information Revolution – as if we are going to benefit from this. The information revolution has come and gone and we are still haggling over the importation of a fibre optic cable.
The Green Revolution will benefit those with the technological know- how, that is, the rich nations that will develop energy efficient systems. Guyana will have to import those systems and it will cost a fortune which we will not be able to afford because our forests will then be worth far less then than they are now.
This is why the leaders of Guyana have to look beyond the LCDS. It is not a strategy for the future.
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