While Guyana has been persistent in its efforts to build the requisite legislative and regulatory framework to govern its trillion-dollar oil sector, it continues to be equally unwavering in its fight against the effects of climate change.
In fact, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall SC made Guyana’s position clear on this front as he delivered remarks at the 144th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly. The event is being held in Bali, Indonesia from March 20-24, 2022.
During his contribution there, Nandlall was keen to note that the climate crisis has issued an ultimatum to the world: “Either we take immediate steps and drastic action or subject ourselves to an infernal global disaster.” The AG added that indifference and inaction equal nothing short of destruction.
Already, Nandlall said the world is far behind in limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. He said therefore that the coming decade must be one of decisive action or all would be damned to devastation.
The Minister of Legal Affairs said, “Climate change affects us all … but its effects are more severe on the poorest and most vulnerable – especially small island developing states (SIDS) and low-lying coastal states. For us, it is a question of survival. Immediate action is therefore needed on three fronts.”
First, Nandlall said all countries must set more ambitious goals to reduce emissions and honour them. He stressed that all countries have an obligation to act but the world’s foremost polluters have an even greater duty to institute steeper emission cuts.
On the second front, Nandlall said the pledge made one decade ago by the developed world to provide US$100B per annum to support climate action must be met. He warned that dishonoured pledges in this respect are only a recipe for disaster.
On the third and final front, Nandlall articulated that forests constitute a powerful arsenal in the fight against climate change. As such, Nandlall noted that forest rich countries must be provided with the incentives necessary to keep their forests intact and reduce deforestation and forest degradation. Mindful that deforestation contributes 16% to annual global emissions and in recognition of the ecosystem and climate services provided by forests, he said it is imperative that the world finalises the rules for carbon markets and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative, so as to properly value tropical forests and the climate services which they provide.
With respect to Guyana, Nandlall said his home country by far remains a net carbon sink by a significant margin where the 18 million hectares of largely intact forests sequester approximately 154 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. He related that Guyana is also part of the Guiana Shield which stores about a fifth of the world’s fresh water and about 18% of the world’s tropical carbon. It also has extremely high levels of biodiversity and endemism with about 4% of all known animal species and even more bird species.
With the foregoing in mind, the Attorney General asserted that Guyana is already playing its part in addressing climate change and will continue to do so.
Nandlall said, “We will maintain our forests – almost the size of England and Scotland combined… We will decouple economic growth and emissions through a progressively cleaner energy mix with the aim of reducing our carbon emissions by 70% by the year 2030. We will invest in low carbon opportunities for jobs, ecosystem services and social inclusion through an expanded Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).”
He added, “Our government and our Parliament will continue to aggressively enact laws and regulations, promulgate and implement policies on climate change and promote low carbon development in every area of national life.”
In closing, the Minister of Legal Affairs said the time for talk is over. He said the world must act now or continue on the road to definite perdition.