Home African Caribbean Transforming Guyana, Episode X: Balancing Energy Development and Environmental Stewardship

Transforming Guyana, Episode X: Balancing Energy Development and Environmental Stewardship

by caribdirect
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In 2015, significant oil and gas reserves were discovered in Guyana, transforming the country into a major fossil fuel producer.  Before this discovery, Guyana, like other vulnerable developing countries in the Caribbean basin, had been advocating for international attention to their exposure to emerging climate risks and for the adoption of policies and provision of necessary support for climate change mitigation and adaptation. These efforts led to a global agreement under the Paris Agreement in 2015 to limit the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5°C, among other objectives. In keeping with its obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Guyana developed a Low Carbon Development Strategy and a Climate Resilient Strategy and Action Plan that aim to achieve zero carbon status and climate resiliency in line with the Paris Agreement.

However, the discovery of substantial oil and gas resources in Guyana now places the country in a seemingly contradictive position as both a current victim of climate change and an actor that exacerbates the problem. To reconcile these roles, two factors need to be considered. Firstly, Guyana lacks the resources to build climate resiliency and transition to an affordable and sustainable energy system. Secondly, as the world transitions to net zero, Guyana has the opportunity to use its newfound wealth to implement both mitigation and adaptation strategies. The region can address regional energy and food security, internalize supply chains, and utilize the resources of Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago to facilitate progress in meeting their obligations under the Paris Agreement. Given the low carbon intensity of Guyana’s oil and gas resources and the feasibility of production compared to global producers, there is an opportunity for Guyana to emerge as a major supplier of fossil fuels during the global transition to net zero. However, Guyana must ensure that its production of oil and gas meets the highest available environmental standards and that the resources accruing are used to facilitate the transition to net zero and to build climate resilience.



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