Sep 25, 2021 News
– But racing ahead with ExxonMobil’s “carbon bomb” projects
Kaieteur News – In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, reiterated the government’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. This ambitious but necessary goal was pledged by world leaders, including Guyana, as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“We meet at a critical time when the need to ensure access to affordable and clean energy for all cannot be understated. The transition to clean energy is a critical component to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and reducing global emissions, which are required under the Paris Agreement on climate change… We are also fully supporting the commitment of net zero emissions by 2050,” Bharrat explained in his address to the United Nations.
But even as the Natural Resources Minister, and by extension the Government, touts their fidelity to net zero emissions, the administration continues to give its blessings to ExxonMobil and its consortium of oil companies to steam ahead with “carbon bomb” projects.
In the offshore concession that keeps on giving – the Stabroek Block – Exxon has been flaring gas above pilot levels onboard the Liza Destiny operations for some 20 months. In this period and according to figures supplied by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is estimated that Exxon has already flared some 14 billion standard cubic feet of Natural Gas. In simpler terms, the amount of gas flared by Exxon is equivalent to the removal of over 1.6 million acres of forest, identical to the size of Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and a small fraction of Region Three (Essequibo Island-West Demerara).
Liza Two and Payara – Exxon’s second and third development projects that are already in the pipeline – will also be carbon bombs in Guyana.
Importantly, President of the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Carroll Muffett, had highlighted that more than 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gases will be emitted directly from those three projects alone. To put this into perspective Muffett had said, it is tantamount to burning more than 260,000 hectares of Guyana’s forests or practically removing close to 80% of Iwokrama, which comprises 371,000 hectares of forest.
Muffett had stated, “In the Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) Guyana submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Government of Guyana estimated that Guyana’s forests store up to 350 tonnes of carbon per hectare. Assuming the government’s estimate is accurate, then, the direct emissions from the operation of those three wells alone would be equivalent to burning 260,000 hectares of Guyana’s forests.”
He had added, that it is important to recognise that the direct emissions from operating the wells will be dwarfed by the carbon dioxide emitted when the oil and gas they produce is burned. Muffett was keen to point out that those emissions will affect Guyana, its people, and the planet.
The CIEL President said too, that one ought to bear in mind as well, that the case filed by the two Guyanese has not taken into consideration, the emissions released from flaring due to the Liza Destiny’s gas compressor being plagued by faults.
Thus far, ExxonMobil has flared more than 14 billion cubic feet of gas since starting operations at the Liza Destiny vessel in 2019.
Furthermore, Muffett said the constitutional case which was filed by Quadad de Freitas, a 21-year old Indigenous tourist guide from the Rupununi Region, and Dr. Troy Thomas, a university lecturer and former president of the anti-corruption organisation – Transparency Institute Guyana, is critical as it is supported by a strong constitutional provision, which vests an explicit responsibility in the State to ensure current and future generations can enjoy a healthy environment.
Also striking about the case, the CIEL President articulated, is the fact that it contains exhibits in the form of government documents, and quotes from officials such as Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, which all acknowledge the clear and present danger that is climate change.
Ultimately, the case, which is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, finds itself as part of a rising tide of action by citizens who are going to courts to accelerate action in response to the climate crisis, Muffett had stated.
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