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Guyana: Turning to renewable energy uphill task

January 23, 2023
FILE: President of Guyana Dr. Irfaan Ali. (Via

Port of Spain, Trinidad CMC – Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali Monday said that oil and natural gas will be used for a much longer time in the Caribbean even as the region is committed to reducing its dependency on fossil fuels and turning towards renewable sources of energy.

Ali, addressing the 2023 Energy Conference organised by the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, said while Caribbean countries are committed to reducing their dependency on fossil fuels like diesel and natural gas, and using more renewable sources as part of efforts to slow the climate crisis and save the environment, doing so is not an easy task.

“Countries are simply bogged down by their pressing developmental needs, constantly battling natural disasters and keeping up with global challenges,” Ali told the delegates to the three-day conference that is being held under the theme “Navigating a Complex Energy Future”.

“So we can safely say in this region, fossil fuel and natural gas have a long future ahead of us. No big scientific analysis required, it is based on what is in front of us,” the Guyanese head of state said.

President Ali said that the Caribbean is confronted by several stark realities that challenge the region’s ability to use more environmentally friendly, renewable sources of energy.

“We’re seeing imported inflation, rising cost of energy…but we have seen some strange movements also.

“Whilst these crises are coming at us like a tsunami, we have seen some strange movements (which), in my view, are not rooted in facts and reality but rooted in a policy agenda driven by a few countries,” Ali told the conference.

“They were able to commit over US$500 billion to shield their consumers from the immediate impact of all that I have spoken of. That’s what they were able to do. They were able to advance US$500 billion to shield their consumers.

“Much of what we face is a result of what is taking place by many of these countries. We face climate crisis, worse vulnerability to climate events. Not even 10 per cent of that, not even five per cent of that is advanced as adaptation and mitigation in the region. So what are we supposed to do?

“Are we just to sit back and say, ‘Okay we are going to go green’, and then who is going to finance the capital? In our limited capacity if you look at the policy measures governments in this region took to cushion the effect of this inflation it is remarkable by any standard,” Ali said.

He said, in addition, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has contributed to food shortages while the region continues to battle the climate crisis that manifests in devastating natural disasters. But Ali said that these multiple factors do not only influence the current cost of goods and services for Caribbean people, but constrain the region’s ability to transition to more renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydro power.

He said that the situation is not entirely hopeless and that countries have resources that can help them meet their needs while aiding the transition to more renewable energy sources.

President Ali said one key resource is natural gas, a fuel with increasing global demand and higher prices. He said with a stable supply of energy that increased food production can be achieved.

“For the energy security of this region, I once again reinforce the call that every country in the region with potential for natural gas should be allowed to explore that potential to the fullest,” he said, siding with the Trinidad and Tobago government that has consistently said it must be allowed to develop and exploit its supply of natural gas.

Ali also told the conference that private sector investments are needed so as to further develop natural gas and fuel developmental projects since governments across the region are highly-indebted.

“Together with short term measures governments must take long term steps either to increase or diversify oil and gas supply or look to accelerate structural change.

“So we are about to implement an energy policy that requires tremendous capital investment if we are to achieve the targets that the region pledged. In an environment where most of the countries in the region are heavily indebted there is no fiscal room to accommodate this investment.

“Governments responsibility is to create the overarching framework, the policy direction, create the vehicle and mechanism through policies and relationship building that enables the private sector to make informed decisions in this energy transition.”

Ali said the region is blessed with some countries having tremendous potential in resolving the region’s energy requirement.

“But not only our energy requirement in CARICOM, but if you look at what Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti eventually and going up the Guiana shield with Suriname, French Guiana, Guyana, northern Brazil, it is an enormous opportunity for a holistic conversation on securing our energy requirement for the nations along the corridor,” he added.

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