Guyana
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International organisations recognise importance of Guyana’s oil & gas

AS Guyana recognised World Environment Day on June 5, the country had much to be proud of. Guyana ranks among the highest tier of countries for its efforts to preserve the Amazon, its low deforestation rate and its role as a vast “sink” that draws carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

And now, even with oil and gas production becoming a new centre piece of the economy, Guyana is poised to maintain this delicate balance.
International organisations, despite their concerns about global climate change, have recognised the vital role that Guyana’s oil and gas will play in its development and have supported efforts to develop those resources in a way that fortifies global oil and gas supply chains while preserving the environment and limiting emissions.

Last week, as part of her World Environment Day message, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Yesim Oruc, said that if low carbon targets are met by Guyana, “the country would see a tenfold increase in demand for electricity supply by 2040 whilst retaining greenhouse gas emissions at 2018 levels. This would be an extraordinary example of how economic growth can be decoupled from carbon emissions.”

While some highly developed oil and gas producers have been able to gradually reduce emissions attributed to fossil fuel development, Guyana’s example could one day be a model for other new producers.
Oruc also said that “international organisations recognise the need for oil and gas in the developing world,” especially as record-high oil prices are weighing on consumers and countries globally are looking to reduce their reliance on aggressive and non-democratic regimes.

Oil and gas development is beginning to transform Guyana with investment driving new spinoff industries and some of the most rapid economic growth in the world. New training programmes are helping build skills and capacity in the country, especially when it comes to sustainable natural resource development.

When talking about the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and Guyana’s transition to a more environmentally friendly future, President Irfaan Ali said, at the World Environment Day event, that Guyana “must explore every possible revenue generating activity so that we can have the resources necessary for adaptable implementation. But we must do so in a sustainable way.”

In her speech, Oruc also stated that Guyana is uniquely positioned, through plans like the LCDS to support both economic goals and green development. This could further position Guyana as an oil and gas producer of the future—one that has used its wealth to build a diversified economy, a cleaner electrical grid, and the infrastructure necessary to combat rising seas and other impacts of climate change.

Guyana could be a global example for how oil and gas development can and should be done: responsibly and with a focus on sustainability.

According to Oruc, “for the first time in our history in Guyana we have the possibility to invest in these priorities and protect ourselves from the impacts of climate change, to mobilise much needed international financing including through private channels precisely because of oil and gas.”

Other groups have taken a similar position. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), “Guyana’s medium-term prospects are more favourable than ever before, with increasing oil production having the potential to transform Guyana’s economy.”

As Guyana approaches its development through a sustainability lens, the government has already implemented several plans to ensure that the proper steps are taken to reach environmental goals.
As part of its efforts, the government has also established conservation guidelines for its forests, which provide a significant carbon sink that has allowed the country to be a net negative carbon emitter.

Guyana’s commitment to the LCDS is now “more important than ever,” according to Oruc. Guyana is expected to experience nearly 50 percent growth in 2022 with more to come in future years—an opportunity to change Guyanese lives forever.

“Guyana would be an extraordinary example of how economic growth… made possible by oil and gas, can be decoupled from CO2 emissions and possibly even become an instrument for a net zero future,” Oruc said.