Advancing Guyana-Norway Agreement, financing for green initiatives among priorities at climate change conference

Georgetown, Guyana – (December 7, 2015) The Government of Guyana is primarily looking to engage the Norwegian Government, source financing for  ‘clean and green initiatives’ and to strengthen bilateral ties with several countries, at the ongoing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC) 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) currently being held in Paris, France.

Minister of Governance, with responsibility for Natural Resources and the Environment, Raphael Trotman, who is leading Guyana’s delegation at the conference, in an invited comment, said that while Guyana joins with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, small member states and the rest of the world to  show solidarity for the cause of mitigation against climate change, Guyana has an additional agenda which it hopes to discuss. To this end, he noted, Guyana was particularly interested in the areas of financing since the country has hectares of untouched and pristine rainforest which can help in to mitigate climate change.

“At most international conferences, the issues are divided between the developed and developing world…. The developed world believes that it is doing its best and, [on] the other hand, the developing world believes that far more needs to be done particularly in providing finance because you can’t ask us to mitigate and slow down our development; in some regards to prevent the damage that is coming to many of the islands especially in the Caribbean, like rising sea levels….It is just not fair…. So, there is a cry for compensation for loss and damage, that says look, your development has led to greenhouse gases and emissions and damage to the environment and we are paying the price for it and we should be compensated,” the minister said.

In addition to seeking financing to address the implications and consequences of climate change, he further said that Government was interested in the area of transfer of technology since this can greatly advance the fight against this global problem.

“We want to have a transfer of technology because for the developing worlds, our economies are based on fossil fuels. We generate energy using heavy crudes and that’s how we produce energy, so whilst we are being nudged and pushed to go with renewables, we are saying provide us with the financing, provide us with the technology, provide us with the training and the skills that are required,” he said.

Guyana-Norway Agreement

Of particular interest to the Guyanese delegation is the Guyana-Norway agreement which has been shadowed by a cloud of uncertainty since the change in administration. Minister Trotman said that a meeting has been planned for tomorrow with the Norwegians and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where the relationship will be discussed extensively to determine a way forward.

“Guyana’s delegation will be meeting with the Norwegian delegation and that would include the IDB…. We hope to address concerns on either side about the future of our relationship and how we proceed on either side. We are not too worried about our relationship but it needs better definition now that government has changed and time has passed and we can look back on the plus and minuses and add to the pluses,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, who is also attending the conference to aid in the negotiations for financing for Guyana, said government has a number of bold plans in train for development.

“I am here to look after the climate change funding aspect of the conference for various reasons. We have very big projects particularly as it relates to sea defence, energy and so on, that will impact development in the country and so I am interested in that. We are also here to meet with Norway on the Amaila Falls. We are not proposing a review, they proposed that and so if that is going to help to unlock the US $80 million which is being locked at IDB, we will make effort to ensure that we can get the money for clean energy development,” Minister Jordan said.

Since the agreement was signed in 2009, Guyana has earned US$190 million. However, the Agreement comes to an end this year and as such it was necessary that the two nations meet. Of the total amount, US $69.8 million has been transferred to the Guyana REDD+Investment Fund (GRIF) while US$80 million was transferred to the Inter-American Development Bank for the delayed Amaila Falls Hydropower Power Project.

Bilateral meetings

Minister Trotman said it is imperative that Guyana holds discussions with other countries, especially those which can advance its causes.

“We would like to engage in a number of bilateral meetings because despite all of the general big outcomes, we believe that much effort should be placed on the bilateral [relationships]. Prior to our coming, we lined up our meetings with a number of nations and organisations but in particular, we are looking to have bilateral [discussions] with China, Norway, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), Italy, CARICOM and we are also looking at the Coalition of Rainforest Countries. The Guianas Shield, which includes Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana is important also and those are the little areas we have been exploring,” he said.

As it is, Minister Trotman said, after presentations made last week by the Heads of Government, who attended the opening of the Climate Change Conference, the countries’ negotiators took over and crafted a draft agreement, which will be perused by the Natural Resources and the Environment Ministers to reach consensus.

“We will go through that draft agreement and find a consensus and hopefully by the end of Friday, get an actual agreement that is satisfactory. I believe as far as negotiations go, we would have to find a compromise between those two [financing and transfer of technology]. Discussions have been very fluid and we are starting to line up our forces. Guyana  of course doesn’t see itself operating individually, but as part of a wider group; firstly as part of CARICOM, and secondly as part of the group of small island developing states; so we are honing and holding our positions as smaller developing countries,” he said.

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