Home LCDS Norway and Guyana’s rainforest: Santa Claus or Old Higue
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.”
Bogus pledges

In April 2007, Norway pledged to the international community that it would make its economy carbon neutral by 2050. This meant that it would be producing no net greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and it asked other rich nations to follow suit. This was indeed the first such pledge made by any nation in the world. Based on this pledge Norway soon became the darling of global environmentalists. It received the stunning accolade of having made “a green commitment that went far beyond politics.” Other countries, regions, cities and communities were urged to follow suit and replicate Norway’s pledge. Buoyed with flattering praises, a few months later in January 2008, Norway raised the bar and pledged to the international community that it would bring forward the date for its planned carbon-neutrality from 2050 to 2030. The effect was stunning because Norway’s pledge came at a time when nations did not even want to commit to ‘fractional reductions’ in their greenhouse gas emissions.
As the New York Times observed at the time, Norway “raised the bar for other nations, which were mostly still struggling to figure out how to reduce emissions by even a fraction.” Consequently this action attracted a great deal of attention to Norway’s environmental practices. Distres-singly, it was quickly realised that Norway’s studied and cultivated image of being ‘environmentally friendly’ could not stand up to close scrutiny.
The New York Times noted that Norway’s pledge was dependent on “elaborate sleight-of-hand environmental accounting and purchases of environmental commitments outside of Norway.” These purchases of environmental credits have been heavily focused on those poor countries that were willing to sell their environmental credits for Norwegian kroners at fire-sale prices.  According to the New York Times the effect of this deception came as, “A cold slap to many companies, countries and universities that have lined up to replicate Norway’s example.”
Norway’s pledge boiled down to two principal gimmicks.

The first is in the way in which its greenhouse gas emissions have been calculated. In particular the extent to which it fails to cover the full life-cycle carbon footprint of all the products Norway produces, exports, and consumes (including imports). The second is how much Norway is prepared to pay out of its earnings obtained from producing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. In plain words, therefore, this pledge was devoid of significant sacrifice or hard work on the part of Norwegians.
Putting dangerous greenhouse gas emissions into the air with its natural gas and oil production and then buying environmentally friendly offerings and carbon credits abroad, especially from poor countries in desperate need, in order to cancel out these harmful emissions is the sort of sordid transaction rich countries love to masquerade as generosity and munificence.

Polluter and petroholic
Inside Norway these contradictions have emerged. Its own Environmental Ministry has observed, “We are living in a constant dilemma because we have grown rich on the petroleum sector, releasing C02 into the atmosphere.” Recognising the global consequence of this the ministry went on to note: “If we are going to tell countries like China and India to lower emissions, we have to do something too.”
The Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO) based in Oslo has lamented that Norway, “is willing to spend a lot of money on a climate policy that is based abroad, but so far they haven’t been quite as willing to make politically difficult choices at home.”
Norway’s largest environmental NGO (Bellona) was more direct and blunt in its statement to the New York Times (March 22, 2008): “We’re a nice little selfish country of petroholics and that has made us lazy… the move from 2050 to 2030 is a sign of good intention, but unless I see action I’ve heard it all before.”
It is clear from all of this that Norway is no Santa Claus. Its benign environmental reputation is tarnished inside Norway, within the wider environmental/international community and in the global media.
As the details of its plans to arrive at carbon neutrality have imploded, the world has grown not only skeptical but cynical and suspicious of Norway’s real intent.

Conclusion
My concluding observation is that Norway, like all rich countries, believe they have an untrammelled right to exploit the world’s resources in the interests of their own peoples. Guyana has to be fully on guard when the Norwegian government’s avowed and publicly declared pledge to its citizens is that all its environmental transactions are designed to protect its own fjords and glaciers for future generations of Norwegians.
As Guyanese we are duty bound to adopt a similar posture in relation to our national patrimony.
Guyana cannot emerge out of suffocating poverty by trading its “pristine forests” for a pittance.
To those who believe my observations on Norway have been harsh, my answer is that they are all factually based. When opinions are expressed in these columns, if these are undeserving then Norway I am sure can defend itself directly or through local acolytes.
Next week I shall wrap up this exposure of Norway as Santa Claus from up North and get in to some of the details of the MOU and Joint Concept Note.

 

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.”

Read more ...

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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