Tuesday, 10 November 2009 00:00

Guyana, Norway sign historic climate pact

Stories News 2009 11 10 2With the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Guyana and Norway to protect Guyana’s tropical forests yesterday at the bucolic Fairview village, Region Nine, on the banks of the mighty Essequibo River, Guyana could receive as much as US$250M by 2015 to support the implementation of the Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).The agreement was signed by Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo and the Norwegian Minister of International Development and the Environment, Erik Solheim. The MoU is a declaration of the two countries’ determination to work together to provide the world with a working example of how partnerships between developed and developing countries can save the world’s tropical forests.

The partnership between Guyana and Norway is part of the Norwegian Government’s International Climate and Forest Initiative that was first launched in December 2007 during the climate change negotiations at Bali.

The initiative seeks to achieve cost-effective and verifiable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD), and applies to all types of tropical forests.

President Jagdeo, in remarks after the signing of the MoU, highlighted his admiration for the leadership that Norway has shown in the climate change arena.

He stressed that Norway is playing a significant role, disproportionate to its size, and has been putting forward practicable solutions on climate change which they have been willing to back with significant financial consideration.

The President noted that with the inking of the agreement between the two countries, the world is closer to finding a solution on climate change, particularly for rain forests.

However, he lamented that the underlying trust that is exhibited by Guyana and Norway has not been replicated by the rest of the world in its search for a global compact on combating climate change.

President Jagdeo assured Minister Solheim that every cent committed by Norway shall be spent in a responsible manner seeking the greatest benefit. He indicated that there would be rigorous oversight at the national level and expressed his willingness to accept international oversight as well.

He further stated that this model can answer some of the tough questions raised and can be a solution that can be taken to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.

The Head of State also stressed that the pledges in the MoU will not affect Guyana’s development, but would rather hasten it, albeit in a different manner.

Under the partnership, Guyana will accelerate its efforts to limit forest-based greenhouse gas emissions, and protect its rich rainforest as an asset for the world. Norway will provide financial support to Guyana at a level based on Guyana’s success in limiting emissions. This will enable Guyana to start implementing its low carbon development strategy (LCDS) at scale. In the words of President Jagdeo, “We want to avoid the high-carbon development trajectory that today’s developed world followed.”

Financial support from Norway will be channelled through a new fund, the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF). Guyana’s Ministry of Finance will be responsible for the GRIF’s operations, and a reputable international financial institution to be selected by Norway and Guyana will act as manager of the fund. The mechanism will ensure full national and international oversight of financial flows.

“Saving the world’s remaining tropical forests is a crucial element in the battle against climate change, and we are proud to support Guyana’s contributions in that effort,” said Minister Solheim.
“Norway has promised up to US$30M for the year 2010, and up to 2015, if this is successful, we stand ready to provide US$250M for this scheme.”

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