Kaieteur News – The second set of criticisms surrounding the gas-to-shore (GTS) project concerns Guyana’s international environmental commitments. Critics of the GTS project have opposed it on the grounds of its inconsistency with the commitments made under the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement of December 2015 is the most ambitious global environmental agreement. Its objective is to limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels. In order to achieve this goal, countries are required to make national commitments, called nationally determined commitments, to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the United Nations, the APNU+AFC government had committed Guyana to what many saw as an unrealistic goal: 100 percent renewable energy use by 2025. As was pointed out recently on a Kaieteur Radio show, there is a caveat to this commitment. It is conditional on the availability of financing.
Financing for renewable energy development was always going to be a challenge. There are a number of facilities available to Guyana to source financing for transition towards 100 percent renewable energy use, but with Guyana’s economy, the level of financing required would have been unachievable in the timeline set by the APNU+AFC.
The PPP/C government is likely to amend this nationally determined commitment. But the Irfaan Ali administration has itself committed to the reintroduction of its so-called Low-Carbon Development Strategy, something that was touted under the Jagdeo presidency.
The Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) is a misnomer. It is not a strategy but essentially an international agreement signed between Guyana and Norway and which details how the proceeds being provided by the Norwegians are going to be spent.
Recently, in criticizing David Granger’s Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), Bharrat Jagdeo said it was not a development strategy because it had no projects. His misguided statement reveals his obsession with projects and his identification of a strategy with projects.
In 2017, he had sung a different tune. He had said that the then undeveloped GSDS was vague and devoid of a political plan and the means to achieve its goals. He alluded to the LCDS, which he said had projects that would allow for green outcomes and prosperity.
In 2019, he repeated the same message: that the GSDS was an environmental strategy. He committed to discontinuing it when the PPP/C returned to government.
In November last year, the Vice President said that the GSDS was loosely defined and without a project [major] to make it work. It is either Jagdeo has not read the GSDS, or if he has, he does not understand what he has read, or he is simply being ingenious. The GSDS is a much superior strategy than the project document which was developed under his tenure and which was labelled the Low Carbon Development Strategy.
Jagdeo, no doubt, wants a major project to drive the LCDS and that project appears to be the gas-to-shore (GTS) project. But such a project is entirely contrary to a low-carbon path to development.
Natural gas is produced during the course of petroleum production. Natural gas is not ‘clean.’ It is a fossil fuel source. One commentator on a recent Kaieteur Radio show said that it is a greater source of pollution than carbon dioxide. But this is debatable. What is certain is natural gas does not produce clean or renewable energy and adds rather than subtracts to global warming.
This is why environmentalists have been so concerned about Exxon’s ‘flaring.’ With the amount of flaring that has taken place over the past year, Guyana can no longer consider itself as a net carbon sink – that is a country which absorbs more carbon than its man-made activities produce.
The PPP/C government was used by Norway, then one of the world’s major oil polluters, to remake Norway’s environmental image as a champion of the environment. Norway agreed to pay Guyana US$250M for environmental services, which Guyana would have provided to the world in any event. Jagdeo signed that agreement essentially as a financing measure but the so-called LCDS was essentially a source of financing which Norway controlled to such an extent that, at one time, even Jagdeo had to complain about Norway’s failure to release funds.
The PPP/C still clings to the LCDS while doing the very opposite to the aims of the LCDS. The PPP/C is now on the path of dirty energy production with its gas-to-shore project. That gas-to- shore project effectively dumps the commitments made by the APNU+AFC in its nationally determined commitments under the Paris Agreement.
The GTS project will be a source of dirty energy, which flies in the face of Guyana’s reputation as being champion of the earth. And while the PPP/C is critical of Granger’s GSDS, it still has the temerity to copycat aspects of it by promising to expand the LCDS to address biodiversity and water management.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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