Head of State, Dr Irfaan Ali during his opening presentation at the 26th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland said that Guyana is already playing its part in addressing climate change and will continue to do so.
The President said, “We [Guyana] maintain our forest almost the size of England and Scotland combined, storing 20 gigatons of carbon as a global asset. We’ll work with local communities in conserving, protecting, and sustainably managing our forest, biodiversity, and freshwater supplies.”
“We’ll decouple economic growth and emissions through a progressively cleaner energy mix to reduce our carbon emissions by 70 per cent by 2030. We’ll invest in low carbon opportunities for jobs, ecosystem services, social inclusion through an expanded Low Carbon Development Strategy.”
He told world leaders of over 100 countries that the faith of civilisation presides in the decisions made at Glasgow noting that the climate crisis has provided an ultimatum. “Either we [world leaders] take immediate and drastic action or subject ourselves to an infernal global disaster.”
The Head of State said that “indifference and inaction will be costly” while noting that countries are already far behind limiting temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” The Guyanese leader said that to change the present trajectory and get back on track immediate action is needed on three fronts.
“First, we must set more ambitious goals, to reduce emissions and we must honour, to the letter, those ambitions, all countries have an obligation to act but the world’s foremost polluters have a greater duty to institute steeper emissions cut.” Secondly, President Ali pointed out that the US $100 billion per annum made a decade ago to support climate action must be met.
Dishonored pledges, he added, are a recipe for disaster. Finally, he explained that the forest constitutes a powerful arsenal in the fight against climate change. To this end, he said that forest-rich countries must be provided with the incentives necessary to keep their forest intact.
“Mindful that deforestation contributes 16 per cent to annual global emissions and in recognition of the ecosystem and climate services provided by the forest, it is imperative that we finalise the rules for the carbon market and REDD+ to properly value tropical forests and the services they provide.”
In this regard, President Ali posited that Guyana is prepared to work with the international community for collective action. He said that Guyana fully supports the position of CARICOM and are aligned with the Alliance for Small Island States (AOSIS), the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Leticia Pact, the DHAKA-Glasgow Declaration, and the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use, among others.
“Though we recently became an oil producer, we support the removal of subsidies from fossil fuel production and advocate a strong global carbon price. Let future generations say – when it mattered the most, we made a difference.”