Sep 09, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, gave a scathing address to the CARICOM-Africa summit on Tuesday, about the failure of large polluting countries to own up to their responsibility to tackle climate change. He advocated for those large, industrial nations to help developing countries build resilience to climate change.
“Climate change is a serious threat which is exacerbated and further weakens us,” he said. “Developing countries like Guyana and our sister states in the Caribbean and Africa, are facing great difficulties. We have not been historically responsible, but we suffer the greatest and are least equipped to respond. Our countries are bearing the brunt of increasing and more intense climate related events.”
He said the regions must advocate collectively for greater financial flows to help them adapt to the impact of the climate emergency. In particular, Ali said they should call for the establishment of a global vulnerability fund.
The President’s call at the first summit of its kind comes ahead of two major global summits – the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November, and the United Nations General Assembly next week.
To support his assertion, Ali explained that the large polluters have achieved economic diversification through the exploitation of their natural resources, and application of those to commercial activities. He pointed to this as the reason why they carry a greater responsibility.
Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, made similar assertions in August during his feature address to an event by the Rice University: Baker Institute Centre for Energy Studies focused on Climate Change Aspirations and the Viability of Small Developing Countries.
“Many of these developing countries have no capability for equal burden sharing and so the justice, the fairness of this, has also eroded over time,” Jagdeo had said.
“And these countries, historically, were not the contributors to the current concentration of greenhouse gases. Yet, they suffer the most from it. If the developed world does not commit to achieving these targets, then many of these countries will leave, as they enter the negotiations, skeptical as ever that enough is not being done.”
Countries like Guyana, which have just recently realised that they are endowed with significant petroleum resources, are facing pressure from environmental organisations and the international community to curtail their planned oil and gas production.
But Guyana’s government is of the firm position that it has the right to exploit the resource, especially because of its record of prudent forest management and its status as a carbon sink.
“Here in Guyana, we remove more carbon dioxide than we emit, something that most countries cannot claim,” the President said during the CARIOM-Africa summit.
“We therefore believe that we should benefit economically from this service that our forests are providing to the global ecosystem.”
In this regard, the President said he hopes that discussions on the rulebook for the carbon credit system will advance under the Paris agreement at the upcoming climate change conference, otherwise known as the 26th Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP26).
Notably, Guyana received a COP26-related visit over the weekend from the Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth of the United Kingdom, Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
She met with the President, Vice President, and other government officials to get an understanding of the issues they have been wrangling with.
She also visited the Mahaica River for a tour, and was told of the floods which affected the area and communities across the country earlier this year.
As the International Champion for Adaptation and Resilience for the COP26 Presidency, it is her responsibility to advocate for more action on those issues. The Department of Public Information said that she has been visiting Caribbean countries vulnerable to climate shocks for information which will inform discussions at COP26.
Guyana will field a delegation to this conference, led by Dr. Jagdeo.
Guyana has agreed with its neighbour Suriname, to jointly strategise on its messaging ahead of the conference. Ali hopes that CARICOM and Africa can do the same.
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