Home LCDS Norway’s deception: Partnership or capture of Guyana’s rainforest
Norway’s deception: Partnership or capture of Guyana’s rainforest

In this column last week I started what I hope will be a fairly full assessment of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). At the time of writing this column I have not been able to access the revised version of the Draft LCDS, which the government had promised to place in the National Assembly before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Copenhagen Summit), which starts tomorrow. As I await the revised version of the LCDS, I shall confine my assessment to those topics which should not be significantly affected by likely revisions.

What partnership?
The first of these is the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway regarding cooperation on issues related to the fight against climate change, the protection of biodiversity and the advancement of sustainable development, signed on November 9, 2009. As I shall elaborate more fully later, although this has been presented as a document based on partnership between the two governments, the Government of Norway studiously avoids committing itself to taking a single domestic action in regard to climate change, global warming, or reduced emissions of Co2 into the atmosphere.
Instead the main subject of the agreement in relation to these issues is the disposition of the “pristine forests” of Guyana. These “pristine forests” are, however, the national patrimony of all Guyanese – supporters and non-supporters of the LCDS alike. The Draft LCDS carelessly mischaracterizes it thus: “Guyana’s pristine forests are its most valuable asset.” As part of the national patrimony all Guyanese have a legitimate stake in the manner of their utilisation.

Unfortunately it seems to me that the official working credo in regard to the LCDS and subsequent consultations on it has been that all publicly voiced criticism of these should be met with a fierce deluge of ridicule, scorn, scurrility and public denunciation of the persons or organizations voicing criticisms. By any objective measure such short-sighted, knee-jerk reactions would have weakened the capacity and effectiveness of those negotiating the role of Guyana’s rainforest in the pursuit of global efforts to stem climate change and global warming, as well as to reduce harmful CO2 emissions into the global atmosphere.
It appears though that the negotiators for the Government of Norway have been paying very close attention to critics of the LCDS. Much of this I believe led them to distrust governance, particularly economic governance in Guyana. Because of this some extraordinarily demanding conditionalities, detailed and elaborate procedures are required to be followed before any funding is provided. There is every likelihood that the Norwegians realized very early that the MOU would not be shared with the parliamentary opposition political parties or civil society prior to its signing. This realization would have exposed the Government of Guyana as being politically hostage to reaching some agreement, since in the absence of one, the political fallout for the government would be severe. On the other hand, an agreement whether good, bad or indifferent could be sold by the government as an “achievement.”
While I shall be examining the details of the MOU and its accompanying Joint Concept Paper more closely later, the point needs to be made up-front that serious nations engaged in serious global negotiations seek to protect their national interests, first and foremost. This is the norm of international diplomacy. To do otherwise would be dangerously naïve. Moreover, we cannot blame countries for taking this course if we do not do so ourselves. It is true that the distinction between national interests and the interests of the regime in power can be manipulated by governments. As a rule, however, the evidence suggests that the more democratic and transparent the political environment, the less likely it is for national interests to be displaced from the premier position.
Readers should recall that I have already pointed out in this regard two key developments to have emerged from the global economic crisis which erupted just over a year ago. One has been the shift of international efforts to coordinate the management of the global economy away from the rich countries grouping of the G7/G8 to the more representative grouping of the G20 countries. These latter include former so-called champions of poor countries’ interests in the global economy, especially Brazil, India and China. The other development has been that since their elevation, these former champions of poor countries’ positions have consistently violated their pledges to poor countries. This cynical development indicates how in serious international negotiations national interests trump all others.

Notorious Norway
As we shall see more fully next week, the Government of Norway is among the worst environmental violators and exploiters of poor countries’ interests in the global effort to reduce CO2 emissions, combat global warming and climate change. Despite its boast that for a small country of 5 million persons, which uses clean energy domestically (hydroelectricity) and has among the highest taxes in the world on SUVs and other gas-guzzling personal transport vehicles, Norway has one of the worst carbon footprints in the world. Whether measured per person or per unit of GDP, Norway comes out among the world’s chief culprits.
It was therefore somewhat embarrassing and disappointing to read the uncritical praise in the local media heaped on Norway’s so-called generosity and “munificence” in buying in to the LCDS. Images of Scandinavia’s traditional “generosity” to poor countries have been invoked, betraying an awful lack of knowledge of how Norway is perceived today in the global environmental community.
Next week I shall elaborate on the deception being perpetrated by the Government of the Kingdom of Norway as it seeks to capture the environmental assets of our “pristine forests” in order to fulfil its global environmental obligations. I shall also urge on readers that as part of our national patrimony we all have obligations to protect it from both foreign capture and domestic sell-out.

 

LCDS

The political economy of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS)

Last week I concluded my rather extended discussion on the current global economic crisis and the lessons to be learnt from this. I trust readers would not infer from this that I believe the global crisis is over and we can safely return to business as usual. Far from it, while this is an appropriate point to introduce other topics to the discussion, I promise I will return to the global crisis if there are significant untoward developments in the coming weeks as we close out 2009 and enter into the New Year, 2010.

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Norway’s deception: Partnership or capture of Guyana’s rainforest

In this column last week I started what I hope will be a fairly full assessment of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). At the time of writing this column I have not been able to access the revised version of the Draft LCDS, which the government had promised to place in the National Assembly before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Copenhagen Summit), which starts tomorrow. As I await the revised version of the LCDS, I shall confine my assessment to those topics which should not be significantly affected by likely revisions.

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Norway And Guyana’s rainforest: Why beggars do not choose

For this week’s column, let me begin by re-emphasizing a couple of observations I have made about global inter-governmental negotiations thus far, as I continue to evaluate the low-carbon development strategy and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), between the Government of Guyana and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, as well as its related Joint Concept Note between the two parties to the agreement.
Diplomatic principle.

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Norway and Guyana’s rainforest: Santa Claus or Old Higue

I hope that by now readers would have realised that Norway can in no way be looked upon as Guyana’s Santa Claus. I have also tried so far in recent columns to make it categorically clear that my principal intention is not simply to bash Norway as a historic polluter of the earth’s atmosphere. My main purpose in presenting Norway’s horrendous environmental profile is to assert the obligation this places on Guyanese to ensure our pristine forests are developed in an integrated, transparent, accountable and sustainable framework for the benefit of all Guyana. In particular to ensure that our national patrimony does not end up being mortgaged to the promotion of Norway’s studied and calculated efforts to deceive the world into believing that it cares more than any other nation about saving Planet Earth. As the saying goes “beware when Old Higue around looking for life blood.”

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Rule or exception: Double standards and fighting global warming

‘Dirty secrets’
I hope that I have already indicated clearly Norway’s double standards in its climate change and global warming actions. More generally, its Santa Claus image has taken a serious beating in the approach to the just concluded Copenhagen Summit. In his Guardian Weekly column last September, Mark Curtis bemoaned the fact that in spite of Norway’s benign image abroad it had “become the home of four dirty little secrets.” One of these is of course the environmental sleight-of-hand I have been dealing with in these columns in previous weeks.

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