There was an ominous sign over the last weeks in New York. With just about 70 days to go to Copenhagen, there remains a sea of disagreement about the best strategy on what should and what should not go into the final agreement. According to the Economist, the current version of the draft outcome document for the meeting is hundreds of pages long, with thousands of passages in brackets representing points of disagreement.
Did the Economist get that right? Thousands of passages of disagree-ments? I said from day one, that Presi-dent Jagdeo has mis-focused his limited energy on an issue that requires more global political power. I must note his acknowledgement that the General Assembly was an anti-climax and this reconciles with the fact that the G-20 countries have bigger political fishes to fry than to give climate change the attention it deserves. The bottom line is, Guyana is not equipped politically to lead on this one, and we must acknowledge this fact as we continue to throw good money behind this hopeless quest. We should put more focus on our issues at home.
President Obama quite rightly is focused on his country’s vested interest, and promised to do what is best for his country. According to the Economist, the US government plans to better measure their greenhouse-gas emissions and take policy decisions based on that evidence. This is all they have committed to date.
No REDD money or LCDS money, just money for their labs, money for their own reforestation programme, and money for their energy efficiency programmes.
According to the Economist, at least China is a bit more advanced than the USA on its environmental plan, since they have already started to invest more resources in renewable energy and ramp up their reforestation programme. There is no mention that China will be transferring any funds to countries with standing forest. Now that President Obama and Hu Jintao have spoken, I hope that President Jagdeo allows wisdom to prevail, refocuses his mind on our challenges at home, and terminates forthwith this personal fantasy game of pretending to be a global environmental czar. This fantasy game has occurred at a very high price to the country. Our sugar industry still does not get the required presidential attention it deserves and its desired progress is years behind schedule; our rice industry has also received too little, too late from the President. Agricul-ture overall deserves more presidential attention. Well let us not even talk about GPL and our blackout plague, our social cohesion catastrophe and the hopelessness of many of our youths!
If our President is allegedly addicted to plane rides, I encourage him to buy a presidential jet and fly to Brasilia every month rather than painting the globe red. This will better serve our collective needs as a nation. Brazil has demonstrated that they are willing to accelerate our developmental trajectory in a more direct and positive manner than any other institution on the globe, and the end result is a win-win situation for both countries. Brazil pledges to date are the boost our people really need – the road to Lethem and the hydropower plant. If President Jagdeo can for once demonstrate leadership rather than the big stick mentality and secure these two projects for Guyana, there is still a chance that he may not leave office a broken man politically with no real legacy.
His performance scorecard to date in serving Guyana’s vested interest is pathetic if not worse, save and except the building the Berbice Bridge (but much credit has to go to Winston Brassington for his leadership in structuring the deal and sealing the procurement contract and thus making this bridge a reality).
The Brazilian Minister of Energy has outlined the seriousness of his country in building an 800 MW hydropower plant in Guyana (Flip Motilall and crew was going to gave us a 100 MW plant at Amelia Falls). This Brazilian-led project is part of a collection of projects that will provide 100,000 MW of new power to Brazil over the next 20 years. This project, coupled with the Brazilian President’s commitment to pave the Linden to Lethem Road, is like manna to the hungry. This could position us as a country to finally harvest our commercial forests sustainably and develop areas like the Rupununi on a grand scale for the first time in our history.
I trust we do not throw away this window of opportunity provided by Brazil to help us in moving away from our current state of permanent paralysis as we survive from crisis to crisis. The time has come for all of us to start learning Portuguese, how to cook Feijoada (a stew of beans and meat or for vegetarians, soya chunks) and that lovely dance called the samba, since that will better serve us as a people than any REDD or LCDS. President Lula of Brazil will not be in office forever, and thus we must work with him now in structuring the finance and sealing the procurement contract as soon as possible because we do not know what the next Brazilian leader will think of Guyana.