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…warns PPP/C’s “heavy-pollution” led development strategy will set Guyana on a downward spiral
Demanding that there be extensive consultation before the finalisation of the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament, Amanza Walton-Desir warned that the Government plans to implement a “heavy-industry, heavy-pollution” led development strategy, which would only place Guyana on a downward spiral.
In its quest to finalise the NDC ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the Government held at consultative session at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) on Monday, however, MP Walton-Desir said it was nothing but a “sham.” Stabroek News, in a recent article, said “the new NDC will potentially include a pledge of cutting carbon emissions by 50% by 2025 – a decrease from the previous commitment of 100%.”
Additionally, the Government is expected to ask the international community for US$1.6B “to implement its conditional adaptation actions.”
But MP Walton-Desir, who did not mince words on Monday, said Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has already set Guyana on a new but retrograde heavy-industry, heavy-pollution path under the guise for the benefit of a selective few.
She said Jagdeo now intends on gaslighting the national and international community to underwrite and subsidise his self-serving plans.
Standing alongside MP Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, MP Walton-Desir told the nation that what was being presented was a fait accompli.
“We are being told that we have ceded our decision-making responsibilities into the hands of one person, the Vice President. The vision touted by the Vice President — a new heavy industry and heavy-pollution led development strategy, and the nation’s wealth privatised in the control of a few select businesses – will set Guyana on a downward spiral that cannot be easily reversed or corrected.
It will accelerate the degradation of all natural resources…, adding degraded marine resources to the degraded forest and mineral resources, and all for narrow private gain. It will impoverish the present and future generations who will have to live with the dire consequences,” the Opposition MP warned.
She challenged Guyanese to firmly reject the action of the Vice President by petitioning against it. “Just say ‘No, not in my name, not in the name of my children and their children’s children’ NO,” she urged.
It was pointed out that all three Conventions emanating from the 1992 United Nations Convention on Environment and Development (UNCED)- the Earth Summit- the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) recognize that women bear a disproportionate burden of climate disruption, and that their input is critical to achieving the objectives of the respective conventions.
MP Walton-Desir told those present that meaningful participation is now firmly established in norm and law to mean timely access to all relevant information, adequate time for consideration, inclusive and transparent processes of deliberation, and an actual role in decision making.
“It requires public disclosure of how Governments have weighed different perspectives in their final decisions. Meaningful and effective participation also requires participating in monitoring and evaluation, on an ongoing basis, the outcomes of decisions,” she reasoned while noting that the participatory principle is also enshrined in the Guyana Constitution under Article 13.
MP Walton-Desir said contrary to the norm, the Government is going to COP26 of UNFCCC having thoroughly excluded the public, especially women and from any form of participation in what they propose to present as Guyana’s position. The indigenous peoples have also been excluded she said. She said it was at the last minute (October 7) that the Office of the Leader of the Opposition received an invitation to Monday’s ‘consultation’ – a mere 20 days before the conference.
“This gathering here today does not meet even the minimum standards of participation, not even a draft document has been circulated for consideration. This is in stark contrast to what obtained in the development of our NDC in 2015, a process which was led by civil society and benefitted from wide input and which took into account the Low Carbon Development Strategy,” she said.
She added: “While there has been a hand in glove relationship with foreign multinational companies and a select few of Guyana’s private sector, there has been a complete lack of nationally based, open consultations with citizens on the swift change in our country’s energy policy, a change which is nothing but a backward leap to heavy-industries and heavy-pollution led development.”
She posited that the country’s Paris 2015 commitments must be the basis for formulating the country’s position on energy and Climate Change. She posited that any revision of those commitments can only be done through the effective and meaningful participation of all Guyanese.
“We are at a critical juncture, where the global community is confronting the ravages of climate change, dire warnings of its exponential nature, and the COVID 19 pandemic. It therefore imperative that we a low-lying coastal State not only be ambitious but we must be mindful of our own national vulnerabilities and our global commitments. To date, there is no public information on who will be representing Guyana in Glasgow,” MP Walton-Desir said.
Speaking on behalf of Guyanese women, MP Walton-Desir firmly rejected the exclusion of citizens and more so women of all economic backgrounds, ethnicities, geographic location- hinterland, rural or urban-, professions, religions, from the decision making on Guyana’s future energy and climate commitments.