Nov 19, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Government leaders have been spreading the word of all the lovely things they have in mind, relative to Climate Change, and of Guyana’s readiness to do its part on a basis that speaks to equity and fairness.
Increasingly, this country’s President and Vice President have been energetic in using every forum and opportunity to spread their gospel of honest commitment, and meaningful involvement. From misty Glasgow, Scotland to Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS 2030), leaders have been loud: count on Guyana as a reliable partner in global Climate Change combat strategies.
It would make for good reading, but only if leaders had more credibility, were more open on how they go about Guyana’s oil business. We hear them maximising the positive: carbon capture and forests that have the absorptive capacity of a massive carbon sink, and tens of billions in US dollars as part of the bargain that could, and should, favour Guyana.
Regarding the negatives, their words are scanty, and their postures swiftly dismissive: gas flaring by Exxon from the company’s operations out on our seas is negligible, when compared to others, and bearing in mind our own newness to the exclusive oil producing club. But, notwithstanding such self-serving condoning and camouflaging exercises, it is on the aspects of conservation and carbon sink, and as they relate to climate change, that we wish to focus today, and which few, if any, Guyanese have made a centre piece of their positions. It involves our local, the truly indigenous people of this country.
All this grand talk and promise about doing this and doing that, and of the billions that could result, leave unsaid a vital and sensitive area of the equation. It is going to happen on the backs of our indigenous people, and of whom little of substance is said by political leaders, as they make the rounds at the United Nations and COP26, and elsewhere, and talk of billions with swagger and confidence. To repeat: whatever changes are in mind, they will come at the expense of indigenous communities dotted across the country.
This was the story that was carried by Yale Environmental 360 and captioned, “A big new forest initiative sparks concerns of a “carbon heist” (October 28). It is of “major funding to finance forest conservation projects” but with environmentalists sounding an early alarm that such funding arrangements “could exclude the Indigenous people who have long protected the forest that initiative aims to save.” The initiative is called Lowering Emissions by Accelerated Forest funding (LEAF), and though billions have been pledged by private entities (Amazon and Unilever, among others) and the governments of richer nations (the U.S. and the UK, for a start), the clamours are that they fall very short.
Aside from that concern, wise and watchful environmentalist groups have serious concerns of the likelihood of a well-disguised “carbon heist” that victimizes indigenous populations. According to Yale Environmental 360, “The fear is that LEAF will become a new platform for projects that provide an excuse for polluters to delay cutting their emissions by purchasing carbon offsets. Friends of the Earth was unsparing in its condemnation of the whole idea as “a dangerous deception” with companies like oil giant Shell and food behemoth Nestle taken to task. Other “land-rights activists fear that these funding actions” are intended to “create a global carbon grab in which governments and corporations” work in tandem to deprive indigenous people of the benefits of their own conservation work.
Though this is the fear on a holistic level, we all know how Guyanese politicians have exploited the native born for their own selfish objectives. They have been viewed and treated as cannon fodder, by past leaders and governments, and the present one continues the games that have long deceived the indigenous people, and taken advantage of them. With billions of United States dollars most likely on offer, the opportunity would be ripe, once again, to mislead and mistreat those who count for less in the grand schemes developing in the minds of leaders in today’s government. As with everything else, for corrupt and compromised leaders the dollar is paramount, and if the indigenous people must be the collateral damage, then consider it done.
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