EU throws support behind initiatives, calls by Guyana to combat climate change

EU Ambassador to Guyana, Rene Van Nes

EU Ambassador to Guyana, His Excellency Rene Van Nes has pressed that there is no time to waste in setting concrete actions to address climate change, as countries prepare for the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP28) later this year in the United Arab Emirates.

Addressing the salient item of climate change as he spoke with media operatives on Friday, the EU diplomat said more action and less talk is needed at this critical time. While there were clear intentions set out in the Paris Agreement at COP21, Van Nes drew attention to the apparent hesitation seen since.

“Everyone that is committed and worried to the overall state of climate change agenda wants to see more action and wants to see less talk…We were pretty clear in Paris about what should happen and now we see that there is hesitation to implement, to take the next steps.”

The central aim of the Paris Agreement was to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Now, the European Union is worried about the status of climate change, as the Ambassador threw support behind initiatives and calls of Guyana and its Government. Hopeful that COP28 will result in concrete actions, he contended that there is no time to lag.

“The EU is very worried about the overall state of climate change and is very willing to take these actions that are necessary. We support your President [Irfaan Ali] in that and I know the preparations are really far advanced. I’m hopeful that the parties at COP28 will indeed be able and willing to come to agreements that will be translated into concrete actions as there is no time to waste anymore,” the EU representative underscored.

Vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the ripple effect on the country’s agriculture sector, Guyana will be allocating some US$500 million for climate-proofing within the next three years.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo made this disclosure last month. Small island developing and low-lying coastal states face imminent threats of climate change and have been promised funding for climate adaptation. However, Jagdeo contended that this will never materialise on a level that is required to safeguard these nations, and as such, the Government is making its own moves.

“We’re setting aside, maybe over the next three years, nearly US$500 million for just adaptation purposes, climate proofing…That’s the first big challenge here and we’re trying to deal with this, the adaptation,” he had announced.

Last year, Guyana signed a historic, multi-year US$750 million agreement with Hess Corporation for the purchase of 37.5 million carbon credits. Guyana is, in fact, the first country to conclude the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) process of certifying its forest carbon.

As per the 10-year agreement, the purchase of 37.5 million credits at US$750 million would see Guyana earning some US$150 million in 2023. Some 15 per cent of this sum was distributed to Indigenous villages, the remainder will be utilised for climate adaptation projects, such as sluices and canals among others.

Going into negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties (COP), Jagdeo had contended that Caribbean countries must take a unified, straightforward stance that does not reflect weakness. He reminded that climate change has dire impacts on agriculture – a sector that is being heavily pushed to obtain self-sufficiency.

“We have to have a more unified position at Caricom and we also have to have greater clarity…If we want agriculture to do well in the Region and we don’t control the biggest challenge to agriculture which is climate problems, then we have to make sure that there is a global environment and policy that allows us to address this. That requires our negotiators when they go the COP meetings to…doggedly stick to a narrow script and pursue it with great intensity,” he underscored.

Climate adaptation measures, a necessary part of Guyana’s sustainable development plans as the fallout from climate change continues to be felt by the most vulnerable countries, could cost Guyana over US$2 billion.

At the United Nations General Assembly last month, President Dr Irfaan Ali called out developed countries over their failure to fulfil the US$100 billion per year pledge to assist developing nations’ fight against climate change.

He also noted the need for a collective reset of global relationships, which can aid in confronting the most pressing challenges of this era, including climate change, the energy and food crises as well as achieving sustainable development.

Guyana continues to pursue growth premised on a Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS 2030). Guyana is already poised to lead the Net Zero by 2050 Agenda, through its robust plans for energy security and renewable generation, while continuously recording increased economic prosperity.

The United Nations Global Roadmap sets out the target that the world must achieve net zero emissions by 2050. It involves balancing the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

Despite being a carbon sink, the country lies several feet below sea level, and climate change is presenting grave concerns for the coastal population. The devastation brought on by flooding due to climate change and global warming will only worsen in the years to come, increasing flooding risks and other disastrous events if not properly addressed. (Rupa Seenaraine)