Nov 29, 2015 News
-Trotman will be walking around in Paris aimlessly
Leader of the Political Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, has blasted the government for failing to outline a policy of how it is advocating for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) since coming to office.
In light of this, Jagdeo said that Guyana is losing ground internationally.
During a press conference at Freedom House yesterday, the former Head of State had harsh words for Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, who is slated to act as Guyana’s representative at the United Nations (UN) climate change summit, which runs from November 30 to December 11 in Paris, France.
“This is a Government that has no climate strategy, no plans for global advocacy. It sent someone who has a vague understanding of these concepts,” Jagdeo said. “We have sent Trotman to Paris and he has not given us any indication as to what his Government’s climate policy is; we haven’t heard about his position on REDD+.”
“It’s not a joy ride to Paris. You have to go there with serious positions,” Jagdeo continued. “This Government has been totally silent on any of these things. We have lost that leadership role in the political forum where these concepts were advanced. So my worry is that they are not at the table.”
Jagdeo decried the fact that there is no clarity from the present government about its position on climate change.
“We have lost relevance. We were at the forefront in the fight to (co-operate with) REDD. And when we found out that it would not have benefitted countries that did not have a high level of emissions, we managed to build a coalition to get the concept to evolve from REDD to REDD+.”
The REDD+ concept, in conjunction with the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), involves Guyana managing its forests and reducing deforestation in order to reduce carbon emissions. The REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) is a fund that financed activities and projects under the LCDS and was established in 2010 with the World Bank as the trustee.
The establishment of the fund was owed to an agreement signed between Guyana and Norway in 2009, in which Norway agreed to provide Guyana up to US$250M by 2015 as long as REDD was adhered to.
However, there have been several red flags raised by stakeholders over the years. Some of the reports pointed to the previous Guyana government not utilizing the funds for the stipulated reasons. This has reportedly caused money to be blocked from reaching GRIF.
Jagdeo noted that on a per capita basis the Guyana/Norway agreement was the largest sale of forest carbon in the world. He attested that this model was used and recognized by many countries and was seen as answering the questions stakeholders had of whether REDD was sustainable.
“REDD is so important to the world. We have about 16 to 19 percent of gross carbon emissions coming from the forestry sector. We have all the tools to show that REDD+ is necessary and the reason that it is important is because forests were not in the Kyoto protocol.”
He noted that the potential for disbursements could amount to millions of US dollars annually. Jagdeo was adamant that if REDD+ could be included in the upcoming agreement, then Guyana would get access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF supports projects in developing countries on the climate change basis.
“They have billions of dollars there for financing our national efforts. Imagine if the price of forest carbon was $30 per tonne as it was in the European Union emissions trading scheme. It is $5 per tonne and we could get an annuity of US$500M. If it goes to $30 (per tonne) we can get $3B annually from the sale of forest carbon.”
Noting that that sum was the approximate size of the economy, Jagdeo pointed out that Government was just not paying attention. According to Jagdeo, all the present Government has done is to get the technical staff to prepare the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) report to submit to the UN for consideration.
“It lacks creativity. It emphasizes two sectors, energy (hydro power, solar, wind and bio fuel) and forestry. We had submitted (during consultations with the UN), a document that was much more comprehensive two years ago. They left out the potential of Agriculture and retro fitting buildings.”
According to Jagdeo, had these been included as conditional pledges Guyana could have the opportunity for much more financing. Instead, he stated that the energy and forestry pledges were the only submissions and old ones at that.
Jagdeo also lashed out at the Government for not addressing Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) except in passing. He queried how the Government could keep touting a green economy.
“What do they mean when they say a green economy? That they would plant some trees in the city? I’m happy with the tree planting and I would probably join in,” he said. “But this is a serious concept. It’s about using the opportunities presented by green technology, initiatives, technology to create wealth and move country forward.”
The former president also took the Government to task for either a lack of transparency or for dropping the ball on some 16 projects that were identified for implementation under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and were being financed by Norway but are in limbo. Among the projects he cited was Amaila falls.
Jagdeo said that while Norway is the primary funder of many of these projects, Government has not been giving any updates. He also stated that due to the Guyana government’s inattentiveness, the country could miss out on global climate related opportunities amounting to three trillion dollars over the next ten years.
Asked whether he expected the government to send him to France in order to advocate for Guyana, Jagdeo vehemently stated that President David Granger (at present on the island of Malta for the Commonwealth summit) was the best man to represent Guyana in Paris.
The Kyoto Protocol (in Japan) is an international treaty effective from 2005. It committed countries to reduce greenhouse gases to avoid global warming.
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