Wednesday, 02 December 2009 00:00

Guyana builds coalition for Copenhagen

Stories News 2009 12 02 1Guyana has been building a coalition with other tropical forest countries for next week’s crucial global climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, President Bharrat Jagdeo has announced in Trinidad and Tobago.Guyana and Papua New-Guinea will be co-hosting an event during the summit and this country has been binding with Suriname, Belize, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and others in the run-up to Copenhagen, he said during a lecture Monday at the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Guyana is also a party to the declaration issued by Amazon Basin countries in Manaus, Brazil last week when President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hosted a summit ahead of the Copenhagen conference.

“We hope that we can influence what takes place in Copenhagen and this is why our model is getting so much publicity around the world”, he said.

Mr. Jagdeo recalled that Britain’s Prince Charles recently spoke about Guyana’s model and said other countries are using it. It’s not the only model because for deforestation… there are different categories of countries”.

In a well-received detailed presentation at the Learning Resource Centre on the campus, he noted that Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) is the only one that has advanced so far.

Guyana, he said, feels it can become a very important part of the abatement solution.

“We have had a long march to get where we are today…to develop the REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) concept and to get REDD expanded to REDD Plus (avoiding deforestation, sustainable forestry management, reforestation, aforestation)”, he said.

Mr. Jagdeo noted that REDD Plus has been accepted as part of the United Nations lexicon and there is now significant support from the developed and developing countries for this new concept.

He recalled the offer he made about three years ago to deploy this country’s forests in the cause of climate change and reiterated that to get REDD approved in a global climate change agreement, a national scale model was needed.

“We are the only country that has done this so far. We have a national scale model covering the entire forest”.

He outlined the development and central elements of the LCDS in which forest carbon is a commodity which Guyana wanted to establish as a commodity which could be traded because it has a value to the world.

He stressed that national acceptance of LCDS was “very important for us” and referred to the nationwide three-month consultation on the draft with stakeholders and others.

“We are going out to tender for an internationally replicable Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV) system that will use remote sensing devices, satellite imagery to identifying any change of carbon stocks in our forests. With those techniques we will be able to assess whether the country performs in accordance with the agreement”, the President said.

He recalled the signing last month of the memorandum of understanding with Norway which will provide US$250M to support the LCDS over the next five years.

Whether there is financing or not in Copenhagen, Guyana already has an MOU with Norway which Mr. Jagdeo said was built on the work done in the Informal Working Group after the G20 meeting in London in April this year.

“Out of that work that we started, 37 countries have now developed a model which says that for US$5 billion annually over the next five years we can cut deforestation rates by 25 per cent around the world – the largest single climate change abatement action anywhere in the world”, he stated.

“When we get to Copenhagen, we can say we have dealt with all the issues (related to forestry)…through our model…”, the President said.

Senior lecturer in the St. Augustine’s Institute of International Relations, Dr. Mark Kirton, said he was impressed by the LCDS which Guyana is using as its most important model.

On the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which ended in Trinidad Sunday, Mr. Jagdeo was interviewed by Hardtalk, the BBC flagship news programme on its World Service TV.

After Monday’s lecture, he was also interviewed by CNC 3 TV from Trinidad and Tobago

Professor Clement Sankat, Pro Vice Chancellor and Campus Principal, said President Jagdeo has emerged as one of the Caribbean’s leading statesman – not only speaking on the matters of the environment but also over the years he has been speaking on food and agriculture production and food security for the region.

The President was applauded several times and was commended for his presentation.

He gave a detailed background on the climate change scenario noting that the solution to resolving the problem of cutting greenhouse gas emissions is quite clear – more renewable energy, greater efficiency and cutting deforestation rates around the world are needed.

“If the developed world had tropical forests then they would find quick solutions and all the money to fix it”, he declared.

He noted that rainforest countries are trying to correct the “most important and glaring omission” of forests as part of the abatement solution from the Kyoto Protocol.

Pointing out that deforestation generates about 20 per cent of greenhouse gases he again argued that to leave forests out of the solution would make it almost mathematically impossible to achieve the targets set for 2050.

“We are trying to change that. As the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end 2011-2012, the new agreement in Copenhagen must include forests as an abatement solution.”

He said that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has come belated to the climate change issue “almost like in our usual slow way, we wait until something falls on our head and then we start addressing it…”

He said CARICOM started paying attention to climate change only about a year ago and members still have a vague understanding of “where we go or the enormous task it will take to deal with this problem.”

The President referred to a recent report on the economics of climate change done by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) which does not give figures.

“We need to really get things going”, he suggested, noting that while the rest of the grouping does not have forests, 50 per cent of the land mass of the Caribbean is forest when Guyana, Belize and Suriname are added.

Responding to a question on the issue, he said CARICOM can perhaps develop its own carbon trading system.

“If that’s the case maybe Trinidad could offset some of its emissions by buying forest carbon from other countries and investing in projects like hydro-power and renewable energy in other territories but the price has to be right”, he said.

The President said key elements to make Copenhagen a success include deep emission cuts by the developed world to avoid more dangerous global warming in accordance with the report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change.

He noted that the developed world is no where near that target.

Another crucial factor is adequate financing for climate-related activities, among them adaptation for the REDD mechanism and for renewable energy.

“We don’t even have pledges for the US$10 billion per annum for fast start funds, much less the larger sums that will be required”, he said.

For the Caribbean, a global governance infrastructure for the intermediate climate-related fund would be vital – not the old ODA tools for disbursement. Urgent intermediation of funds is required now, not compromising on accountability.

“The Caribbean wants enough resources for adaptation and REDD out of Copenhagen – two areas of our special interest. We have to keep putting the pressure on the developed world and we have to argue for not (only) a political declaration but a legally binding agreement”, he said.

Acknowledging the difficult road ahead, he said, “We may not get that in Copenhagen but at least we should try to get all the principles of what a legally binding agreement must include.”

He said CARICOM is going to Copenhagen with all its demands intact.

“We have a CARICOM declaration which outlines key elements of our negotiating position. We have clarity on the issues that we want to push”, he said. (GINA)

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