Nov 02, 2015 News
By Desilon Daniels
The ambassadors of both the United States and the United Kingdom have shown their support for Guyana’s move to a green economy and have also urged this nation to harness its renewable energy potential.
Over the past few days, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has been observing its “Green Expo”, an initiative which was launched to educate the public on the importance of preserving the environment. The expo also focused on the “greening” of Georgetown and concluded on Saturday.
The expo was launched on Friday and was attended by new US Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, and the British High Commissioner, Gregory Quinn, who both applauded the M&CC undertaking.
Holloway expressed hope that the expo will be the first of many such events to protect Guyana’s environment. He also committed that his government will not only participate vigorously this year but “even more vigorously in the years to come”.
Holloway said that the basic message is that going green is both smart and good for business in the long run. He indicated that a number of large US corporations now have climate and energy strategies and each year the numbers grow. He said this growth is largely due to customers pushing for change, as more people begin to recognise the importance of the environment.
According to Holloway, minimising waste, reducing emissions, and conserving water are among the common goals of an increasing number of governments, businesses, universities and other organisations.
“Stakeholders recognise that being green doesn’t only make for a healthier environment, but it makes for a stronger balance,” Holloway said. He went on to encourage Guyanese youths to pursue educational opportunities to learn about some of the “cutting edge technologies” and renewable resources of energy, including wind and solar.
The US Ambassador made note of the recent find of oil by American company, Exxon Mobil, in an offshore site. He said that while the discovery is important, Guyana must still look towards adding more energy sources to its collection.
“Guyana has an abundance of wind, sun and water; renewable energy is a growth industry. Harnessing that potential would be a game changer for Guyana, the country with one of the highest per kilowatt hour energy costs in the world.” He noted that currently, Guyana almost exclusively relies on “inefficient” diesel engine-driven generators.
“Meanwhile, in terms of hydropower potential alone, Guyana has enough capacity to not only satiate its own energy demands but to sell excess to its neighbours.
“We recognise the significant oil discovery here in Guyana but it is critically important to think forward and add diversified energy portfolios,” Holloway said.
“We have learnt the hard way in the US of the importance of not becoming dependent on any single source of energy.”
He said that the US government seeks to be Guyana’s partner in developing a long-term sustainable energy platform. He said too that the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, which had been put forward by US President Barack Obama and US Vice-President Joe Biden, demonstrated the US’s commitment to helping Caribbean nations such as Guyana come up with a comprehensive energy strategy.
He went on to applaud the planners of the conference and expo and pledged his government’s support to the Guyana Government, the private sector and NGOs to advance the goals of responsible and sustainable natural resource development.
He concluded by saying that change can only come about if involvement is added.
“If everyone here does not get involved and if you don’t promote everyone else to get involved, then the change will not be possible because it takes all of you to change. You can certainly count on the United States government as a partner with the people of Guyana in trying to implement the change that will make it a greener place,” Holloway emphasised.
Additionally, British High Commissioner, Quinn congratulated the M&CC for its ongoing work in cleaning Georgetown. He indicated that he arrived in Guyana in February and since then he has certainly noticed a change in the city’s appearance.
“I look forward to the ongoing commitment of the council and the residents of Georgetown because this is for everybody, to maintain and build on what has already been achieved,” he said.
According to Quinn, the relationship between the UK and the Caribbean is fundamental in terms of protecting the environment. He further said his Government is committed to mitigating the dangers of climate change and demonstrated this commitment by funding multibillion dollar projects both inside and outside of the UK.
“We are also committed to the use of renewable energy and reducing our carbon emissions. By 2020 we have pledged at least 15 percent of UK energy needs will be from renewable sources,” he said. He added that the UK is a leader in renewable energy and therefore has much knowledge to pass on. He said its renewable energy industry alone is worth about US$20B and employs some 400,000 people.
“As such, we are perhaps an ideal repository of knowledge and experience in such technologies for countries such as Guyana as they move towards greening their economy,” he said.
He also stressed that all must be involved in moving Guyana towards a green economy.
“If we do not see some progress, then there are risks for everybody, especially those countries such as Guyana that are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” Quinn said. “We need all to be aware of what we can do to help improve the environment.”
The M&CC was allocated $300M for the Georgetown Restoration Programme. The plans for the programme include a public awareness and education campaign, as seen with the Green Expo, training of key departments at City Hall, cleanup exercises, and repairs of city infrastructure.
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