‘Don’t leave your people behind’

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—Mottley tells Ali at oil conference opening

By Svetlana Marshall

Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley said Guyanese must not be left behind as this country transforms its economy through the advancement of its Oil and Gas Sector.
The Barbadian Prime Minister, who was among Heads of Government delivering remarks during the opening ceremony of Guyana’s International Energy Conference and Expo at the Marriott Hotel on Tuesday, said each and every Guyanese ought to reap the benefits of the country’s new found wealth.
“I believe that your country Guyana, our country, Caribbean country, Guyana, has endured much, has endured much, and you cannot move from being a highly indebted poor country to where you are today without being given the opportunity one, to bring along your people who have suffered the indignity of that poverty for decades but secondly, without being given the opportunity to participate globally in discussions that will affect your ability to manage the development of your people,” Prime Minister Mottley told President Irfaan Ali, in the presence of the more than 500 delegates gathered in the Conference Hall of the Marriott Hotel.

The Barbadian Prime Minister said locally, regionally and internationally, the Private Sector has often times complained about the need for Local Content – an issue, she posited, must be addressed frontally to the benefit of the citizenship.
“The day that we do not provide opportunity for our citizens who participate in active citizenship of being able to benefit from the patrimony of our country, is the day we sow the seeds of destruction of our nations and invite disruption,” she warned.
PM Mottley said while in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the issue of Local Content may result in conflicts and disagreements, the Region must find viable solutions that would benefit the people. “It is our duty to be able to smooth that over and to ensure that at no stage as newly independent countries of the world do we leave our citizens as tenants in their own land but make them owners of all that there is,” the Barbadian Prime Minister urged.

A section of the more than 500 delegates present at the opening of the International Energy Conference and Expo – Guyana 2022

STRIKING A BALANCE
However, cognizant of the impact fossil fuels have on the environment, the United Nations (UN) 2021 Champion of the Earth, said countries like Guyana must strike a balance between safeguarding the environment and providing a better quality of life their people. “We cannot save the earth and sacrifice our people,” she said while noting that there must be a way to simultaneously address climate crisis and poverty.
Climate Change and the ongoing Energy Transition, Prime Minister Mottley said, are among challenges confronting the world. “We must protect our people against the threats while taking absolute advantage of the opportunities afforded to us over the course of the next few decades,” the Barbadian Prime Minister said.

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An abundant and an affordable supply of energy is essential for meaningful social and economic activities, she noted while underscoring the need for Governments to actively implement policies that will create and incentivize the sustainable use of energy of their resources. Alluding to the theme for the International Energy Conference and Expo – Charting a Sustainable Energy Future – the Prime Minister said already CARICOM countries have embarked on a mission to chart a sustainable energy future to navigate the energy transition from heavy reliance on fossil fuels to clean renewable sources of energy.

BARBADOS AND CARBON NEUTRALITY
Barbados, Prime Minister Mottley reported, has embarked on an ambitious journey to transition to 100% renewable sources of energy and to becoming a carbon neutral state by 2035. Carbon neutrality is a state of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions. It is achieved by balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal or by eliminating emissions from society. ”We have one of the densest electric vehicles and charging stations network per capita. There over 500 electric vehicles on our roads… We have one of the region’s largest electric fleet of buses.
We have replaced 88% of our street lights across Barbados with LED lights and we have installed 3.7 megawatts of photovoltaic systems on 22 public buildings…,” the Barbadian Prime Minister further detailed.

Additionally, the country has completed ocean energy studies on the development of utilities scale offshore wind and marine power, and has concluded negotiations on a 30 megawatt green energy park based on waste energy.
According to Prime Minister Mottley, Barbados is redoubling its efforts to propel its renewable energy sector. However, she said as Barbados looks towards a sustainable energy future, it is cognizant that there are sustainable hydrocarbon resources deep below its sea bed.
In November 2021, BHP completed a 2,700 square kilometer 3D seismic survey within two of Barbados offshore blocks. According to the Prime Minister, the surveys will help Barbados to de-risk exploration and will hopefully lead to the discovery of hydrocarbon resources offshore, in particular, natural gas. It is also hoping to launch new offshore oil and gas blocks later this year. “…net zero does not mean no fossil fuels. Net zero means, we have to produce enough to offset the impact of the fossil fuels,” she clarified.

Referencing to the International Energy Association’s goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, Prime Minister Mottley questioned who will supply the 20% of fossil fuels, should there be an 80% reduction, whether it will be those countries whose poverties have been cemented by centuries of extraction and exploitation by a few.
“Or will the world just simply ignore the reality of that disparity and perpetuate a hypocrisy that has regrettably become too familiar with our condition as people across this world. We say that the world needs global, moral, strategic leadership and I say so conscious of the absence of that leadership means that it is okay for a few advanced countries to continue to provide the 20% that would be needed in 2050, while at the same time, refusing to accept the responsibility of financing the consequences of the climate crisis…,” PM Mottley said.

However, cognizant of the current status quo, the Barbadian Prime Minister proposed that there be an accord among the new energy exporters to invest at least 10% of their net revenues in renewable energy.
“We do not have the capacity to easily finance our development in the transition and we have not been given the assurances, not even in adaptation funding that we can get it,” she posited.
“In addition, we should commit to investing in a new international exchange of renewable energy investments, projects listed there must meet minimal environmental, social, governance standards, local content, and local ownership conditions. A single place for dedicated investors and common minimum standards will ignite investment and growth…,” the Barbadian Prime Minister further submitted.



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