Apr 08, 2021 News
In face of climate change…
Kaieteur News – When one considers the actions taken by the former coalition administration and the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), to move at almost lightning speed with oil production offshore Guyana in spite of the polluting effect it will have on the environment, international lawyer, Ms. Melinda Janki, is convinced that both political factions are incapable of leading Guyanese to a safe and prosperous future. She noted as much in a recent letter to Kaieteur News.
In her letter to the Editor, Janki sought to inform readers that US President, Joe Biden, is expected to host a Summit on Climate Change come April 22 and 23. She noted that the summit would deal with urgent action to tackle this phenomenon plus the economic benefits of doing so. Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, of Antigua and Barbuda, and Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, of Jamaica, are among the 40 leaders selected to attend. Janki was keen to note that Guyana was not invited, even though it is a key State when it comes to climate change.
Expounding on this front, Janki reminded that Guyana is a world leader in combating climate change. She said that its forests and ocean make it one of the world’s few carbon sinks. In fact, Janki noted that Guyana does more every day to reverse climate change, than almost any other country on the planet. She stressed, however, that while Guyana is currently a climate leader, it has, by its very actions, transformed itself into a ticking carbon bomb.
In this regard, she highlighted that ExxonMobil, which is the Operator of the Stabroek Block, claims to have discovered about nine billion barrels of oil. Unless that oil production is stopped, Janki said it would emit 3.87 billion tons of greenhouse gas. “That’s more than 250 years’ worth of emissions from Delaware, the state that President Biden represented in the Senate for 36 years,” the international lawyer expressed.
Further to this, Janki pointed out that President Biden plans to spend US$2 trillion to address climate change including US$650 billion on a clean energy transition and US$174 billion to switch to electric vehicles. With this in mind, Janki said that Guyana’s proposed petroleum production is in direct opposition to President Biden’s climate change aims and strategy. Furthermore, she said that this petroleum production for the Stabroek Block appears to be driven by the demands of ExxonMobil, a struggling American oil company, and not by concern for the wellbeing of the Guyanese people.
In addition to the foregoing, Janki said one must not forget that the APNU+AFC and the PPP/C have acknowledged the threat of climate change. Last year, for example, the lawyer recalled that President, Irfaan Ali, had warned that Guyana is ‘particularly vulnerable’ to climate change. She said too that Vice-President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, even called climate change an ‘existential threat.’
As for the APNU+AFC, she recalled that it had produced a draft Climate Resilience Strategy and Action Plan, which warned in 2015 that Guyana was already experiencing the ‘adverse and potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change.’
Despite the acknowledgement by both political parties, Janki asserted, “The PPP/C and their predecessors, the APNU+AFC Coalition, have shown repeatedly that they are too weak to stand up to ExxonMobil (and partners). The PPP/C and the APNU+AFC Coalition have squandered Guyana’s global political capital as a carbon sink. It is clear that the PPP/C and the APNU+AFC Coalition are incapable of leading the Guyanese people to a safe and prosperous future in the face of the existential threat of climate change.”
The international lawyer categorically stated that Article 36 of the Constitution states that the well-being of the nation depends on preserving clean air, fertile soils, pure water and the rich diversity of plants, animals and ecosystems. The lawyer stressed therefore that Article 36 ought to be the starting point for Guyana’s immediate transition to a prosperous blue-green economy powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
In conclusion, she said, “Guyana’s people can and must align now with the global movement to avert climate catastrophe, even while Guyana’s political elite remain stubbornly on the wrong side of history.”
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