By Kiana Wilburg
Considering Guyana’s vulnerability to the vagaries of climate change, University of Houston Instructor, Tom Mitro, firmly asserts that the nation’s policy leaders need to toughen up and challenge oil companies to state how their operations will have an effect on the country’s climate change plans.
Equally important to this equation he said, is for the leaders of the day to demand answers on what these operators will do to mitigate the impending risks of their projects.
The Oil Consultant said, “I’m no climate change expert but I do know that at some point, climate agreements between countries will likely limit carbon emissions. In fact, there has been a lot of discussion about ‘stranded assets’ which refer to refineries, pipelines or oil fields that will be required to be shut down or to operate at lower capacity in order to meet carbon emission goals.”
Under this type of scenario, Mitro explained that decisions to shut down assets may be based on a variety of factors such as crude oil gravity, energy-efficiency of operations, gas flaring, methane leak controls, energy used in transportation, plans for using carbon-capture technology, or a range of other factors.
The Oil Consultant said, “…Certainly, the ability to politically influence decisions will also play a big part. Nonetheless, any operator in Guyana should be asked what their plans are to minimize the risks that the Guyana offshore fields can end up being and what among those assets could end up becoming ‘stranded’ in the future.”
Further to this, Mitro noted that it might be appropriate to ask these questions at the time of submission of the Development Plan. He said that this is the stage when decisions will be taken about plant design affecting energy efficiency, flaring, control of leaks and emissions and carbon capture.
If any company takes the position that climate change regulations will not come into play or that compliance will not be important, Mitro cautioned that such a firm is less likely to build those issues into their engineering designs.
The official warned that this can have the potential to increase the risk of climate change actions thereby negatively affecting Guyana in the future.
OFFICE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
With respect to Guyana’s climate change efforts to date, the Office of Climate Change (OCC) has often times reminded that the nation established a commitment to work towards the reduction of the negative impacts of climate change by becoming a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, then ratifying the Convention on November 17, 1994 and acceding to same in 2003.
In fact, the OCC noted on its website that the country has taken proactive steps to support the implementation of the Convention. It said that the establishment of its office in 2009 is part of this process.
Furthermore, it was stated by the OCC that Guyana prepared its Initial and Second National Communication to the UNFCCC in 2002 and 2012 respectively. Kaieteur News understands that the preparation of the Third National Communication has been initiated too. The OCC explained that these reports provide a general status of key aspects related to climate change in Guyana including: an inventory of Greenhouse Gas (GhG), climate change vulnerability assessments, programmes containing measures to facilitate adequate adaptation and mitigation to climate change, an analysis of measures for GhG abatement and information related to the implementation of the UNFCCC.
In addition to this, Kaieteur News understands that several other key studies, research and plans were prepared to address specific areas related to climate change. In this regard, the OCC explained that many sectors in the country have already begun to integrate policies, legislations and programmes in line with addressing climate change. Some also have developed specific climate change initiatives. Additionally, the OCC said that Guyana works along with many countries, institutes and groups to support capacity building for adaptation and mitigation to climate change. It also noted that Guyana has made considerable progress internationally in negotiating its position on climate change through the UN and other major processes. In fact, Guyana has played a key role in the UNFCCC negotiations on REDD+, as well as in the interim REDD+ Partnerships.
According to the OCC, the country also works along with negotiating groups such as the Coalition for Rainforest Nations and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
It noted, however, that the most significant step taken to address climate change in Guyana is the development and implementation of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which was launched in June 2009. The Strategy outlines Guyana’s approach to promoting economic development while at the same time addressing the issues associated with climate change. It articulates the country’s vision to transition towards a low carbon, green economy and provides the overarching framework for achieving Guyana’s long-term developmental goals, using nationally appropriate green growth strategies to achieve this transition.
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