Thursday, January 11, 2018

Petroleum and Climate Change in Guyana’s Future

In October 2016 Professor Mandle gave a talk on climate change here in Georgetown. I was not aware of it at the time but write it now as I feel it covered some keys points which have not had public attention so far. It was brought to my attention by the Vice-Chancellor of University of Guyana in his address at a similar function recently. It was clear that he also felt it was an important address.

Below is a review of a few keys points of the talk.

The talk was entitled 'Petroleum and Climate Change in Guyana’s Future' and was delivered for the inaugural C.Y.Thomas Distinguished Lecture as a part of the week-long celebration of the University of Guyana 50th Graduation on Thursday 27th October 2016. It delivered by the distinuished Professor Jay Mandle of Colgate University, New York.

The talk consists of some nineteen pages. It can be found online in text format here. One of several references is to an important ECLAC report from 2011 entitled "An assessment of the economic impact of climate change on the Coastal and Human Settlements Sector in Guyana" which is available online here.

The talk starts with some background on the widely respected Professor Thomas. This brief review is concerned primarily with climate change so we will move on to where Professor Mandle begins to focus on Guyana and climate change.

The Coast - in this section some geography is outlined and the vulnerability of Guyana to flooding due to its long-standing and barely adequate system of sea walls and gravity drainage.
Summarising he says:
"In short, global climate change means that the Guyanese Coast will be invaded by both salt and fresh water flooding."
Petroleum - the prospect of large incomes from oil is outlined. The challenge of corruption is identified.

Petro-dollars - four claims on oil dollars are given, namely: a fund for unexpected government spending, poverty-alleviation, increased spending on normal government functions,  a sovereign wealth fund.

The Problem of Adaptation - the question of adaption of the coastal area to climate change and sea level rise is considered.
"With the consequences of climate looming, Guyana would seem to be facing the need to choose between two competing strategies: whether to try to protect the Coast with adaptation, or alternatively, to initiate a substantial if not total relocation to the Interior."
And "...adaptation on the Coast is not a viable option over the long run". 
Interior Development - planning for probable relocation inland will be very challenging and expensive.
"Guyana will have to relocate at least sections of its population, economy, government, and civil society to the Interior. Doing so will be a radical departure for the country."
"Rice, sugar and ground provisions are grown on the Coast. None of these is likely to be part of the country’s comparative advantage structure in the Interior. Entirely new crops will have to be cultivated and new industries will have to be built..."
So it seems sugar has no future in Guyana.
"Access to and from the Interior at the moment is too limited for it to support the level of economic activity that will be necessary."
"Petro-dollars will make it possible to finance much of this investment in infrastructure."
The Need to Debate - public consideration of the issue has yet to begin. This concludes the talk.
"There is much excitement concerning the country’s future as a petroleum exporter. But the need to use those funds to settle the Interior has not been the subject of public discussion. Overcoming this reticence, and debating the merits of Interior development is something that should begin as soon as possible."
Reference is made to the talk in the University of Guyana publication 'Renaissance' to be found here.

Monday, December 25, 2017

University of Guyana forum on climate change

This forum was the tenth in the Turkeyen & Tain Talks by the University of Guyana and was held on November 30, 2017.

The event started with remarks by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw L. Griffith. In introducing the subject he made particular reference to a talk by Professor Mandle in 2016. There will be a follow-up post on the talk by Professor Mandle soon.

The chairman and moderator was Dr Paulette Bynoe, Dean of the Faculty of Earth and Envirnomental Sciences.

This was followed by brief remarks by Reuben Robertson of FAO.

Presidential Advisor Gary Best gave an overview of the issues from a Guyana perspective.

Ms Gomin Camacho spoke on agriculture and youth networking.

Ms Martina Duncan addressed aspects of managing climate change.

Mr Amir Dillawar spoke about climate change, youth and energy.

Dr Devon Gardner talked about Caribbean and energy issues relating to climate change.

The talks by Presidential Advisor Gary Best and Dr Devon Gardner were covered in more detail, especially in relation to oil, in a report by Demerara Waves.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Guyana - more storms?

Recently there seems to have been an increase in the incidence of damage from storms here in Guyana. Not having any other data I did a search in the Guyana Chronicle archives using the keyword "storm" and found relevant stories, excluding duplicates, as follows:

2010  2
2011  1
2012  2
2013  3
2014  3
2015  3
2016  2 
2017  6

Thus the first 4 years total 8 and the second 4 years total 14. 

Of course this is not proof but is highly suggestive that we are experiencing more damaging storms. Why should this be? Well climate change does predict stronger storms since the atmosphere contains more energy and more water.

It would be interesting to see if GPL or GTT are experiencing more poles damaged by storms.
Are we ready for future storms? What needs doing? What do house builders need to know?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Internet Week Guyana

This event organised by the Ministry of Public Telecommunications along with the CTU and international organisations was a first for Guyana and was a success. A report from the Guyana Chronicle says in part:
The high-level technology conference was held at the Pegasus Hotel from October 9 -13 2017, as part of celebrating International Internet Week 2017. Stakeholders from the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), and the Internet Society (ISOC), were all part of the success of this event.

A number of reports on it and other related activities can be found at the Ministry website.

Internet Society Guyana branch

Internet week was recently held in Guyana. One major outcome was the launching of the Guyana branch of the well-known and long-established international Internet Society. Here is an extract from a report of the event from CircleID by Malisa Richards, one of the main proponents:
Finally, Guyanese Internet users at all levels who are interested in internet governance issues and policy-making now have a local organization to address their interest. The Internet Society, a leading advocate for the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for everyone, announced on October 10, 2017, at the official launch of the Internet Society Guyana Chapter that they were happy to finally have Guyana onboard. It serves as a major development for the telecommunication sector in Guyana since we are currently in the process of liberalizing the telecommunication sector.
Work is underway to organise the local branch.