During a visit to Paris in 2016 by the then President David Granger, he had promised the international community that Guyana would achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, but then Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had derided this commitment as an unrealistic pipe dream.
Sure enough, in 2018, the then Head of the Office of Climate Change (OCC), Janelle Christian had admitted that Granger’s target was not achievable and would have to be reviewed.
On Monday, Vice President Jagdeo led a national stakeholder consultation at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) aimed at updating Guyana’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) ahead of the convening of the United Nations COP26 summit.
The stakeholder consultation did not go smoothly, however, as A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Member of Parliament (MP) Amanza Walton-Desir, who, along with fellow MP Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, were there by Government invitation, gave a speech denouncing the stakeholder consultation.
According to the MPs, the consultation was not broad enough and did not include women and youth, as well as the Indigenous community.
And while she claimed that the updated NDCs would condemn Guyana to a carbonised future, Walton-Desir was not able to identify any specific issues with the NDCs.
In his address to the attendees, Jagdeo took Walton-Desir and, by extension, the APNU/AFC Opposition to task, noting that the Government had no choice but to revise the NDCs downwards since the former Government made a lofty commitment and then for five years did little by way of renewable projects to make it a reality.
“How do you raise ambition from 100 per cent pledge? In fact, this proposal that we have here would be lowering ambition. And that is what we wanted to avoid. We did not want to say to the rest of the world that it’s impossible, the last Government made a mess of everything and it’s impossible to achieve what they had pledged by 2025,” the Vice President noted.
“For a very long time, we debated whether we should submit new NDCs. Because globally, it would be seen as lowering ambition while everyone else is talking about increasing ambition (to lowering carbon emissions). Eventually we said, we can’t continue to mislead the world. That has to change.”
As a consequence, Jagdeo noted that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government came to the consultations with the view of lowering the 100 per cent commitment. Additionally, he explained that unlike the former Government who he said only sought soundbites with little to back them up, the PPP/C Government has a detailed road map for achieving the NDCs.
“The gas-to-energy project will, hopefully, by 2024, 2025, cut our emissions by 50 per cent. And then with solar, we hope to do between 30 to 50 megawatts of solar. And with the hydro, we’ve just opened the tender for hydro, we’re hoping that by 2027, we will probably achieve a 70 per cent cut in emissions,” he said.
Jagdeo noted that with the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) currently supplying approximately 140 megawatts of power, 500 megawatts of new power from renewable sources will severely cut emissions. And according to him, nothing has changed when it comes to the adaptation measures that were agreed on in previous consultations under the former Government.
“That’s realistic. We have projects to achieve that. We don’t just talk. And that is the major change. Nothing has changed on the adaptation side. We have to prevent our sea from coming in and flooding us. We have to manage water, so we don’t get flooded out… we have to tackle drought in maybe the hinterland areas,” Jagdeo said.
During a subsequent interview on social media, Jagdeo further highlighted how the APNU/AFC’s pledge was unrealistic.
“No developing country or developed country has been able to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy or can achieve it by 2025, yet they promise it and they did nothing, not a single project to get there and they want us to keep that,” he contended.
“We had to revise this target to a realistic level and that is why the part of the proposal we preferred is to cut the emissions by 50 per cent so we achieve at least 50 per cent reduction of green house gases by 2025…”
He also spoke about efforts to revive the Amaila Falls project which was scrapped by the APNU/AFC.
“We are now going out to tender between 30 to 50 megawatts of solar power and we just opened the tender for the Amaila Falls…so when the Amaila Falls is constructed, we triple the amount of energy that we produce in Guyana but lower our emission by 70 per cent, not even 100 percent like they promised and that’s realistic, that is what we can do and we’re working towards it.”
Jagdeo further condemned the posture of the Opposition MP Walton-Desir during the consultation.
“What we saw…was a demonstration of typical low-life behavior from the Opposition. They came there, and they had Amanza Walton the same Amanza Walton who said that Indo-Guyanese are mentally lazy, she came there and hijacked the forum.”
“She conned the presenter in saying that she wanted a place to rest her notes and then took over the podium, breaching all the COVID protocol, took over the podium, typical low-life behaviour, bullyism as it’s known, that is synonymous with her character.”
“Then they berated the government on how we’re acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally because we’re not consulting, forgetting that she was invited to consultation to prepare the final document.”
“Imagine Amanza Walton standing in the Convention Centre talking about unconstitutional behaviour, the same place where the recount took place where they were trying to steal the elections,” Jagdeo argued.
The COP26 Summit, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland next month, will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Jagdeo has been a leading figure in Guyana’s efforts to prepare for the summit, with the former President leading an expert team to Suriname last month to coordinate a common strategy with the Surinamese Government to deal with issues of climate change and the environment.