Positioning Guyana to combat climate change

Dear Editor,
Optimism is quickly arising across Guyana. And why is that so? It is because of the caption: “Guyana looking to unlock US$135M climate funds by year-end.
“The word from His Excellency Dr. Irfaan Ali is that, “While our focus is on advancing our economy, it is important and critical to understand that this must be done in a sustainable way.” What the Guyana Head of State has emphasised here is really a global formula in today’s world of rapid climate change.
No doubt, we all want to see “Guyana…undergo massive economic transformation,” as President Dr Irfaan Ali has been iterating. In this regard, he noted that the “Government is looking to unlock some US$135 million in climate-related funds that are stalled overseas by the end of this year, to finance Guyana’s sustainable development.”
According to the President, “Guyana will be using the funds it earned for sustaining its rainforests in order to absorb global carbon emissions to finance its development.” To date, the reading is good, as “Guyana has earned more than US$250 million via the ground-breaking forest partnership agreement with Norway under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) initiative, which was the brainchild of former President and now Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo.”
However, as we all know, the country was not able to access the outstanding funds because of the destructive political instability under the previous A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
But according to Ali, things are turning around, and “By the end of this year, we’ll put measures in place to unlock almost US$135 million that we’re yet to receive; and, going forward, we are already targeting new initiatives with higher value markets to be a major player in the carbon markets.”
The man leading this drive is Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is aiming to implement Phase Two of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). In fact, Guyana has already re-engaged the Kingdom of Norway, which was the source of the funding, and, last Thursday, Guyana did sign a pact that places the country ahead of everyone else in this necessary venture.
Recent history shows us that Guyana almost missed out completely on something so promising. Back in 2009, Guyana had signed with Norway a historic forest protection accord which was aimed at Guyana receiving payments for sustaining its rainforests to absorb global carbon emissions. A total of US$250 million was to be paid to Guyana over a five-year period.
However, Norway did not release funds to Guyana. Why? The former APNU+AFC Government mismanaged the country way too much, and then there was the extra-long political crisis stemming from the time period when the Coalition fell to a No-Confidence Motion in 2018 all the way to August 2020, when the Declaration of the March 2020 Elections was finally made.
Let me remind readers that most of the increase in global temperatures going back to the 1950s has been caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels for energy, and intense farming and agriculture to produce meat and crops.
Now Guyana once again has a major hallmark project in the making under the LCDS initiative. This is the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP), which used US$80 million in funding from the LCDS. However, the project was aborted by the APNU/AFC while they were in the combined Opposition, and was eventually scrapped after the Coalition took office in 2015.
Now the PPP/C Government is most resolute in reviving the AFHP, which is expected to add some 165 megawatts of power to the national grid, thus providing clean and reliable energy.
Already time is against us, as, right here in Guyana, the evidence of climate change is being experienced: higher temperatures, more dry spells, and wilder weather patterns. Globally, we are seeing a number of things too: changing rain and snow patterns; less snowpack; melting glaciers; shrinking sea ice; and thawing permafrost. Editor, unless we face reality and act wisely, we will suffer immensely. So, get on with what is necessary, I say to the country’s leaders.

Yours truly,
Baldeo Mathura