Digital Guyana

Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy

Posted on: July 20, 2009

Last night we watched Guyanese tv news for the first time, and a significant portion of  the programme was dedicated to Guyana’s newly launched Low Carbon Development Strategy – Transforming Guyana’s Economy While Combatting Climate Change.

As 75% of Guyana’s land is covered with pristine rain forest, the main focus of the strategy is, unsurprisingly, about conservation and the role of rain forest in combatting climate change.

It is estimated that Guyana’s forest could contribute around $580 million a year to its economy. But only if they were to cut it down.

Extensive logging would, according to the report, be economically rational for Guyana, but not  so for the rest of the world. Standing forests absorb large amounts of carbon from the atmospehere and forestry causes 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, conservative estimates place the annual value of the Guyanese forests to the world at $40 billion, significantly more than what Guyana would benefit by exploiting it.

However, the report says:

No trading markets exist for these environmental services – and as a consequence, individuals and companies in rainforest countries face powerful incentives to deforest. In turn, national and local governments face political pressure to use the forest for economic and employment benefit. Reconciling this tension between protecting rainforests and pursuing economically rational development is the core challenge that must be addressed to make forests worth more alive than dead.

So, how is this going to be done?

Well, the report says:

With the right low-deforestation economic incentives, Guyana will avoid emissions of 1.5 gigatons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent which includes other greenhouse gases) by 2020 that would have been produced by an otherwise economically rational development path. These incentives will be generated through interim forestry payments from Guyana’s partnership with the Norwegian Government and other sources.

It’s a bit unclear from the online strategy, but from the tv programme
last night, the aim is to set up an international scheme in which Guyana would be paid not to cut down its forest. The initial payments will come from Norway, but Guyana is currently in discussions with other countries with the aim of having something finalised by the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

I hope they are successful.


1 Response to "Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy"

Concerning the 15th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Copenhagen in December this year, Mr Persaud seems not to appreciate the nature of these mega-meetings. The draft negotiating text of 200 pages was debated at a technical meeting in Bonn in June 2009. A member of the OCC was present, and he will know that in this text there was no mention of the LCDS. That text has to be distilled down to 30 pages for the Copenhagen meeting. There will be space for at most one page on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). It is misleading to imply that the LCDS, which has not been brought forward at technical working groups of the UNFCCC or to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), will suddenly have a significant role at Copenhagen.

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