Caricom must have seat at table during talks on future of fossil fuel industry – Pres Ali
The Caribbean Community (Caricom) must have a seat at the table when talks of the future of the fossil fuel industry and the shift to renewable energy – which President Dr Irfaan Ali said must be the subject of deep conversations – arises.
He made these comments during a virtual discussion with the Vice President of the United States of America (USA), Kamala Harris, and other Caricom leaders. The President was at the time in Barbados, after stopping in while returning to Guyana from a four-day visit to the United Kingdom.
During his visit, he joined the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley in Bridgetown for the virtual meeting. President Ali spoke extensively on climate change and fossil fuels. According to him, this is an issue that requires an “in-depth conversation”. President Ali made it clear that the region “must be part of that conversation in defining this policy going forward”.
He said that while the world is heading in the direction of reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, locking out new suppliers can create a monopoly for those who are currently involved in the oil industry.
“The question is, if you’re locking out new suppliers, it is to whose advantage? We can be very well creating a monopoly for those who are already in the business, who have already extracted this natural resource and developed their own jurisdiction,” President Ali said.
During the discussions, President Ali also called for a better working relationship between the USA and the Caribbean Community, especially in understanding and respecting the policies of the Region.
The Guyanese Head of State spoke about the “strong and strengthened relationship” between the US and Guyana, but he also called for more trust and better coordination at both the country-to-country level and between the US and Caricom.
“There is an absolute need for the building of trust—trust in our policy formulation, and trust and predictability in what we do; trust in the partnership that we seek to endeavour and this trust, I think, must lead to an institutional arrangement, outside of the annual meeting that will allow us to address some very key issues—energy and climate change being two of them.”
The President also called for the need to address international taxation policies, the future direction of those policies and the possibility of their severe impact on the Region’s economies. According to him, “many of our countries are facing a disproportionate application of international regulation and laws.”
Guyana’s standing forest, which stores 19.5 gigatonnes of carbon and is worth US$500 billion, also came up during the discussions. According to the President, the annual revenue the country should receive from carbon credits stands at US$200 million.
On the matter of climate change, adaptation and mitigation, the President explained that forested countries, such as Guyana, are not prioritised. He said that Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson assured him this week that “he is spearheading an effort” to ensure that standing forests become a priority.
The issue of climate change, according to President Ali, requires stronger conversations, especially when it comes to financial pledges from developed nations. According to President Ali, “I think this need also to be on the [US] agenda.”
The President also spoke about energy sustainability, food security and regional security and about the bolstered relationship between Guyana and the US.
“The US is playing a major role in the development of our energy sector from the private sector’s perspective and I must say, at the diplomatic level, the representation locally has also helped us,” he said.