Guyana and the Greenhouse market
July 13, 2004
Throughout our history, Guyana has always had its fair share of smart people who know how to turn a bad situation to their advantage. Guyanese are resourceful people who can convert misfortune into success.
One day, a Guyanese, a Bajan, a beautiful girl and an old woman were sitting in a train. The girl was not paying any heed to the Guyanese but was admiring the Bajan man. Naturally, the Guyanese felt jealous.
The train suddenly went through a tunnel and it got completely dark. Suddenly there was a kissing sound and then a slap! The train emerged out of the tunnel.
The old woman, beautiful girl and the Guyanese guy sat there looking perplexed. The Bajan was bent over holding his face that was red from an apparent slap.
The old woman thought: That Bajan guy must have tried to kiss that girl and got slapped.
The Bajan was thinking: “Damn it, that Guyanese guy must have tried to kiss the beautiful girl, she thought it was me and slapped me instead.”
The beautiful girl thought: “That Bajan must have moved to kiss me, but kissed the old lady instead and got slapped.”
The Guyanese was thinking: “If this train goes through another tunnel, I could make another kissing sound and slap that damn Bajan again.
See how smart we are?
Therefore, despite our present difficulties, we should not view our situation as one of total helplessness.
I have already in a previous article expressed my optimism that Guyana will be ready for whatever Europe does to its sugar regime.
The Jagdeo administration had long determined that our prices in the strategic European market would eventually decline and has begun, albeit in a slothful manner, to prepare for the inevitable crash in sugar prices.
Guyana cannot simply opt out of sugar. It is very much like a case of a husband with children deciding he cannot leave his wife because of the responsibility to his children. In the same manner, the sugar industry cannot simply fold up and disappear overnight. If this happens, it would have dire consequences for the nation.
The forces of globalistion continue to threaten vulnerable economies such as ours. We are much too small and negligible in terms of power to do anything about it, but like a good “smart man” we should be able to turn to our advantage, things which we often complain about.
Take for example the hypocrisy about the environment. The developed world calls upon us to reduce pollution and develop more clean air systems while they, who are the biggest polluters of the planet, are lagging behind in their commitments.
In so far as the environment is concerned, what we have is a situation where the rich industrialised countries want the poor countries to help clean up the world for them. So we have to delay development because of environmental concerns while they continue to practice unrestrained capitalist exploitation.
There is little that small countries like Guyana can do to resist the demands to control certain types of emissions. While we, however, must accept our inability to change the world, we should try to turn these situations to our advantage.
Guyana wants to move towards renewable sources of energy. The reasons are not hard to understand. The savings from a reduced import fuel bill will be enormous. But far more compelling would be the savings to local industries if hydro comes on stream in a big way. This will bring down energy costs significantly and set the foundation for competitive industries in Guyana.
This writer no longer gets excited about announcements in the energy sector. How long is it that we have been hearing about rural electrification? How long is it that we have been hearing about providing unserviced areas with current? How long is it that we have been hearing about the Caracas Accord? How long is it that we have been hearing about windmill energy? How long is it that we have been hearing about buying electricity from Venezuela? Whatever happened to Cheddi’s dream for a hydro at Tiger Hills, something that in the sixties, the great Argentinean revolutionary, Che Guevara was willing to fund on behalf of the Cuban government? What about the repairs that were supposed to be done to the hydro station at Lethem? When will the public be told about these things?
I mention these things because energy is a strategic input and we need cheap energy if we are going to meet those ambitious growth levels, which we are told, are required for us to catch up with the rest of the region. But in order to exploit the numerous possibilities for renewable sources of energy, we need finance and we continue to behave as if this can only come from private investors.
This is the wrong approach because the investors who will come under our present circumstances will strike a hard bargain and then we will complain that we got the rotten end of the stick.
The World Bank also, as part of its role of protecting the industrialised world, has an interest in renewable sources of energy. In 2000, the Bank created the Prototype Carbon Fund. This fund buys reductions in carbon emissions or to put it more accurately, helps to fund projects, which would ultimately cut carbon emissions.
As one report recently observed, a virtual greenhouse gas emissions market has developed internationally, providing capital for projects which would aid in the overall goal of reducing carbon emissions. The funds from this market are being applied to carbon credits projects in some countries.
Guyana needs capital and investment to exploit our virtual untapped reserves of renewable sources of energy. The capital is out there.
We just need to understand the greenhouse market and know how to benefit from it while making the environment cleaner and healthier.
We can in short abide by the international requirements to cut certain emissions while benefiting from new investment in renewable energy.