The president of Guyana, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, has urged the oil and gas producers in the region to speak out against prejudices held by the outside world that prevent investments from reaching the Caribbean and Latin America even as hazardous, polluting coal plants are starting up again all over the world.
In his speech at the TT Energy Chamber’s Energy Conference on Monday at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, he made the announcement.
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President Ali noted, “In answering the question as to the remaining life of fossil fuel and natural gas when we have this open and honest conversation, we will see how lopsided that conversation is in relation to the end of fossil fuel and gas.”
He pointed out that the globe is currently dealing with energy and food instability due to the pandemic, climatic issues, imported inflation, and increasing energy costs. A few nations’ political agendas, he claimed, were to blame for “some strange movements” that occurred recently but were not grounded in reality.
“We have seen an unwillingness to lend to companies related to oil and gas. We have seen the cost of capital increasing for companies related to oil and gas,” Ali stated.
He denounced the fact that a lack of capital forced businesses to pass on prices to consumers, referring to all industries that rely on the energy industry.
“So we must have very strong statements coming from both (regional) industries and governments, that are balanced and rooted in the reality of the world we live in.
“Those statements must be strong, they must be responsible but they must be in keeping with the realities we face as a global community.”
According to Ali, worldwide energy consumption decreased by 4.5% in 2020 but increased by 5% in 2021 to reach 176,431 kilowatts.
He claimed that oil accounted for 29% of all energy sources, coal for 24%, natural gas for 22%, and hydroelectricity for 6% of all energy sources.
“This is not guesswork, this is facts.
“So let’s have a conversation as to how we first move away from 25 percent dependence on coal. Why isn’t that conversation the reality? If coal is the worst form of energy (in terms of pollution) how do we transition?
“For the energy needs and security of this region, I once again reinforce the call that every country in the region with potential in natural gas should be allowed to aggressively explore that potential to the fullest, to ensure the energy security of this region.
“Here in TT that opportunity exists and that opportunity should be allowed to blossom for the benefit of the people of this region and the globe.”
“In this region, fossil fuel and natural gas have a long future ahead of us.”
“Many times when you think about food insecurity and hunger, our minds are automatically programmed to go to Africa.
“But if you look at the data now, the Caribbean and Latin America region is becoming the fastest, most aggressive food-insecure region in the world. That’s the complexity we are faced with.”
He said Guyana plans to pursue a costly energy plan and that its administration is setting up a framework to welcome investors.
According to Ali, Guyana’s renewable energy objectives are 20% for 2020, 28% for 2022, and 47% for 2027. Guyana, meanwhile, has only attained 11.5% by 2020.
He bemoaned that there was no support from international financial organizations, and the only finance for this aim came from a loan of US$1.4 million from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
The meeting should publish an outcome paper, according to Ali, “to tell the global system how the region is thinking,” as his final statement.