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The launch of a strategy for a low carbon economy in Guyana

The launch of a strategy for a low carbon economy is a crucial link in Guyana’s efforts to demonstrate that it is worth more to keep the rainforest standing than to cut it down. However, the current international climate change agreement, called the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, provides no incentives for countries like Guyana which have been preserving the rainforest.

President Jagdeo described Guyana’s forests as a world class asset for a number of reasons: one, its helps to preserve animal and plant life on earth; (2) the rainforests serves to preserve the planet’s water cycle, generating rainfall; and (3), perhaps most importantly, forests breathe in harmful carbon dioxide which is polluted into the air.

Guyana and other forests rich nations are lobbying for a new global climate change agreement, which is expected to be finalised in Denmark later this year, to provide incentives for keeping forests standing. But he declared that in pushing for this, Guyana must not be seen as a passive recipient of aid, but rather an equal partner in the search for climate solutions. With the right low-deforestation incentives, Guyana will avoid emissions of 1.5 gigatons of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 2020. The incentives will be generated though interim forests payments through a partnership with the Norwegian government, and other sources, such as the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, or the REDD programme.

With Guyana being paid for keeping the rainforest standing, the country can then invest in strategic low carbon economic infrastructure, such as hydro-power, improve access to unused, unforested land. The country would also invest in high-potential low cost sectors such as fruits, vegetables and aquaculture, and also expand services such as water and health to indigenous communities, while providing them with the means of making a living, without threatening the rainforest. To institute this strategy, a number of new organization systems would be created, such as a low carbon finance authority to manage forest payments and related investments flows. President Jagdeo emphasised that there would be plenty of time and more materials to ensure that all stakeholders fully understand and subscribe to the low carbon strategy before the government moves ahead with it.

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