Guyana President: Region must speak out against world bias

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

CORDIAL: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley shakes hands with Guyana’s President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali at the Energy Chamber’s Energy Conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain on Monday. Photo by Sureash Cholai

GUYANA’S President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has urged the region’s oil and gas producers to speak out against biases from the outside world which see a lack of investments coming to the Caribbean and Latin America, even as toxic, polluting coal plants are resuming operations across the globe.

He made the call on Monday while speaking at the TT Energy Chamber’s Energy Conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.

“In answering the question as to the remaining life of fossil fuel and natural gas, when we have this open and honest conversation, we will see how lopsided that conversation is in relation to the end of fossil fuel and gas,” Ali said.

He noted that the pandemic, climate challenges, imported inflation and higher energy costs have left the world grappling with energy and food insecurity. He said the world also recently saw “some strange movements,” not rooted in reality but in a policy agenda driven by a few countries.

“We have seen an unwillingness to lend to companies related to oil and gas. We have seen the cost of capital increasing for companies related to oil and gas,” Ali said.

He lamented that tight capital meant companies would have to pass on costs to the consumer, that is, all industries supported by the energy sector.

“So we must have very strong statements coming from both (regional) industries and governments, that are balanced and rooted in the reality of the world we live in.

“Those statements must be strong, they must be responsible but they must be in keeping with the realities we face as a global community.”

Ali said global energy consumption fell by 4.5 per cent in 2020, but rose by five per cent in 2021 to reach 176,431 kilowatts.

He said energy sources to feed this energy need were, respectively, oil at 29 per cent, coal at 24 per cent, natural gas at 22 per cent, and hydroelectricity, at six per cent.

“This is not guesswork, this is facts.

“So let’s have a conversation as to how we first move away from 25 per cent dependence on coal. Why isn’t that conversation the reality? If coal is the worst form of energy (in terms of pollution) how do we transition?

“For the energy needs and security of this region, I once again reinforce the call that every country in the region with potential in natural gas should be allowed to aggressively explore that potential to the fullest, to ensure the energy security of this region.

“Here in TT that opportunity exists and that opportunity should be allowed to blossom for the benefit of the people of this region and the globe.”

“In this region, fossil fuel and natural gas have a long future ahead of us.”

“Many times when you think about food insecurity and hunger, our minds are automatically programmed to go to Africa.

“But if you look at the data now, the Caribbean and Latin America region is becoming the fastest, most aggressive food-insecure region in the world. That’s the complexity we are faced with.”

He said Guyana wants to implement an energy plan that requires a lot of investment and its government is establishing a framework to accommodate investors

Ali said targets for renewable energy in Guyana were 20 per cent for 2020, 28 per cent for 2022 and 47 per cent for 2027. However, Guyana had only reached 11.5 per cent by 2020.

He lamented the only funding for this ambition was a US$1.4 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), but nothing from global financial agencies.

Ali concluded by saying the conference should issue an outcome document, “to tell the global system how the region is thinking.”