Kaieteur News – With each passing day it is becoming clear that Guyana’s national emissions strategy is being driven more by financial considerations than by concern for the environment. Having put forward a pitifully Low Carbon Development Strategy which forced low rates of deforestation on the country, Guyana is now aiming to gain carbon credits from another source: reforestation.
Jagdeo now has a new plaything to add to his toy collection. He is now looking for Guyana to earn carbon credits which it can trade internationally.
Yesterday, the Stabroek News – which is now being favoured with exclusive interviews with the country’s Second Vice President – reported that Guyana is looking to reforest some 6,000 acres of mined-out lands.
Jagdeo is reported to have said that reforestation proposals had been received from two French companies which are seeking to gain carbon credits for this initiative. Jagdeo is hoping that there can be some benefit-sharing from the proposal so that Guyana can obtain some of these carbon credits.
The French companies, no doubt, are not making this proposal out of the goodness of their hearts. They have emission cuts which they are required to make. And from these cuts they will earn carbon credits. But if they fail to do so, they can still earn their credits investing in some forest protection or reforestation project overseas. The carbon credits from this project will be used to offset their failure to reduce emissions from their operations at home.
European firms are therefore seeking to compensate for any shortfalls in meeting their emission targets by buying carbon credits, or obtaining same through investing in environmental projects in the developing world.
This is the vulgarity of the emissions trading markets which Jagdeo and Ali are positioning Guyana to enter. Emissions-trading is not about the environment, even though there are some environmental benefits. It is concerned with the commodification of environmental services and its outsourcing of emission cuts to the developed world.
Emissions-trading is not the answer to the climate crisis. It is not the answer to cutting global emissions, and it is unethical for countries like Guyana to entertain foreign companies to override their domestic emission-cuts obligations through offsets.
But don’t tell that to Jagdeo. For him, emission or carbon offsets is a means of earning money for the country and it is that, which he is most interested in.
As this column previously indicated, the LCDS was not an environmental strategy; it was a financial strategy. And now there is this talk about carbon offsets – an environmental benefit earned from an initiative, that avoids, reduces or removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and which a foreign firm may use to compensate for greenhouse gas pollution or failure to cut that firms mandated emissions.
Reforestation however, does not remove carbon from the environment. Jagdeo has to get his carbon science right. As has been pointed out by scientists, there is a difference between the type of carbon emitted from the fossil fuels and the carbon stored by trees. Carbon absorbed by trees does not cancel out fossil fuel emissions already in the atmosphere. Therefore, the replanting of mined-out areas is not a strategy to absorb carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
Reforestation becomes vulgar when it is used to help foreign firms meet their targeted cut in emissions. Reforestation therefore should not be used as an offset for foreign firms to meet emissions cut since reforestation does not absorb foil fuel emissions.
Reforestation is best used as part of a larger forest conservation strategy, including biodiversity protection. Had the PPP/C viewed reforestation as part of broader conservation strategy, it would have long ago mandated that miners and loggers reforest mined-out and logged-out areas so as to promote biodiversity regeneration.
But this is not happening. In fact, instead not only are the miners and loggers destroying the environment but the government is also allowing for the destruction of mangrove forests which protect our foreshore, and this is being done in the name of development.
(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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