APNU/AFC made unrealistic renewable energy pledge – VP Jagdeo
…says Govt now fixing Guyana’s credibility on int’l stage
During a visit to Paris in 2016 by then President David Granger, he promised the international community that Guyana would achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, but then Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had derided this commitment as an unrealistic pipe dream.
Sure enough, in 2018, the then Head of the Office of Climate Change (OCC), Janelle Christian had admitted that Granger’s target was not achievable and would have to be reviewed.
On Monday, Vice President Jagdeo led a national stakeholder consultation at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) aimed at updating Guyana’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) ahead of the convening of the United Nations COP26 summit.
The stakeholder consultation did not go smoothly, however, as A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Member of Parliament (MP) Amanza Walton-Desir, who, along with fellow MP Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, was there by Government invitation, gave a speech denouncing the stakeholder consultation.
According to the MP, the consultation was not broad enough and did not include women and youth, as well as the Indigenous community. And while she claimed that the updated NDCs would condemn Guyana to a carbonised future, Walton-Desir was not able to identify any specific issues with the NDCs.
In his address to the attendees, Jagdeo took Walton-Desir and, by extension, the APNU/AFC Opposition to task noting that the Government had no choice but to revise the NDCs downwards since the former Government made a lofty commitment and then for five years did little by way of renewable projects to make it a reality.
“How do you raise ambition from 100 per cent pledge? In fact, this proposal that we have here would be lowering ambition. And that is what we wanted to avoid. We did not want to say to the rest of the world that it’s impossible, the last Government made a mess of everything and it’s impossible to achieve what they had pledged by 2025,” the Vice President noted.
“For a very long time, we debated whether we should submit new NDCs. Because globally, it would be seen as lowering ambition while everyone else is talking about increasing ambition (to lowering carbon emissions). Eventually we said, we can’t continue to mislead the world. That has to change.”
As a consequence, Jagdeo noted that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government came to the consultations with the view of lowering the 100 per cent commitment. Additionally, he explained that unlike the former Government who he said only sought soundbites with little to back them up, the PPP/C Government has a detailed road map for achieving the NDCs.
“The gas-to-energy project will, hopefully, by 2024, 2025, cut our emissions by 50 per cent. And then with solar, we hope to do between 30 to 50 megawatts of solar. And with the hydro, we’ve just opened the tender for hydro, we’re hoping that by 2027, we will probably achieve a 70 per cent cut in emissions,” he said.
Jagdeo noted that with the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) currently supplying approximately 140 megawatts of power, 500 megawatts of new power from renewable sources will severely cut emissions. And according to him, nothing has changed when it comes to the adaptation measures that were agreed on in previous consultations under the former Government.
“That’s realistic. We have projects to achieve that. We don’t just talk. And that is the major change. Nothing has changed on the adaptation side. We have to prevent our sea from coming in and flooding us. We have to manage water, so we don’t get flooded out… we have to tackle drought in maybe the hinterland areas,” Jagdeo said.
The COP26 summit, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland next month, will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Jagdeo has been a leading figure in Guyana’s efforts to prepare for the summit, with the former President leading an expert team to Suriname last month to coordinate a common strategy with the Surinamese Government to deal with issues of climate change and the environment.