Kaieteur News – In recent years, Guyana has been thrust into the global spotlight for its stance on climate change, particularly in the context of the ongoing COP 28 discussions. It has raised eyebrows with its seemingly contradictory approach to environmental policy.
On one hand, Guyana positions itself as an advocate for the environment, dedicating vast acreages of its forests to conservation, biodiversity research and sustainable forestry development. One of its Presidents was even named as a Champion of the Earth.
On the other hand, its actions tell a different story – one of embracing and accelerating fossil fuel production and calling for a just transition to renewables – a position seen as defending increased fossil fuel exploration and production in the short- to medium- term. This perplexing duality raises questions about the sincerity of Guyana’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
Guyana’s recent plea for oil companies to play a more prominent role in climate change negotiations has further signaled its role as an apologist for the oil companies. The government argues that these companies, often criticized for their contribution to global warming, should be active participants in finding solutions.
However, a closer look reveals a paradox: oil companies have long been present at the negotiating table, actively lobbying for and safeguarding their interests. One analyst has pointed out that not only has the oil companies been lobbying and protecting their interests but that they have completely corrupted and taken over the entire COP process.
The call for a “greater say” by these companies seems more like an attempt to cater to their agenda rather than a genuine effort to address climate concerns. Oil and water do not mix and it hard to reconcile championing the environment while being an apologist for the oil companies.
Most climate-vulnerable states across the globe advocate for a reduction in fossil fuel production, recognizing it as a pivotal step in mitigating climate change. Guyana, however, stands out by deviating from this consensus. Instead of joining the chorus for decreased oil exploration, the nation aligns itself with oil companies, demanding their increased involvement in the decision-making process. This position, while claiming to support a just transition towards renewables, is paradoxical given the government’s eagerness to exploit its oil resources as fast as possible and as much as possible.
The apparent contradiction in Guyana’s stance becomes more glaring when considering the absence of a comprehensive national oil and gas depletion policy. The government’s approval for accelerated oil exploration contradicts its rhetoric of a just transition, raising questions about the sincerity of its commitment to environmental sustainability. If fossil fuels are indeed on borrowed time, as evidenced by the global shift towards renewables, why push for a just transition?
Guyana’s approach to climate change has been further clouded by its pursuit of carbon credits. The government’s push to earn carbon credits for environmental conservation initiatives seems commendable on the surface. Guyana is attempting to prostitute its environmental efforts to earn carbon credits while simultaneously supporting expanded production of the very industry responsible for environmental degradation.
The confusion deepens when examining the mixed signals emanating from the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration. While projecting an image of an environmental champion, the administration’s policies appear to prioritize economic interests over genuine sustainability.
It is crucial for Guyana to reevaluate its environmental stance and present a coherent strategy that aligns with the global effort to combat climate change. This requires a transparent and comprehensive depletion policy that considers the finite nature of fossil fuels. Furthermore, the government must reconcile its push for carbon credits with a genuine commitment to ensuring a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, rather than simply allowing polluting companies to buy a “pass” towards their national emission targets.
Guyana’s recent actions on the global environmental stage paint a troubling picture of a nation engaged in climate hustling. On one hand, it seeks to present itself as an eco-friendly champion by selling carbon offsets to foreign firms, allowing them to ostensibly neutralize their carbon footprint in their countries. It appears that Guyana is exploiting the carbon credit market as a smokescreen, enabling foreign companies to continue polluting the environment with impunity while Guyana itself rushes headlong into becoming a major player in the fossil fuel industry.
In a stunning display of environmental contradiction, Guyana’s oil production is expected to surpass 1 million barrels of oil per day by 2027. This rapid escalation of oil production stands in stark contrast to the principles of responsible climate stewardship, revealing a blatant disregard for the very environmental concerns the government purports to champion.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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