August 17, 2009
Janette Bulkan writes that the President Bharrat Jagdeo's Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) assumes a deforestation rate of nearly four percent per year (630,000 ha/year) over 25 years in the South American country, which has had a deforestation rate near zero for the past decade. The LCDS is based on projections by McKinsey & Company, which estimates that ninety percent of the country's forests would be clear-cut or mined over the period, followed by conversion to industrial plantations and agriculture. Jagdeo uses these numbers to seek an annuity of about US$ 580 million per year, a figure that represents over half Guyana's 2007 GDP of $1.04 billion.
Bulkan says these figures are unjustifiably high and could put off foreign donors seeking to compensate Guyana for avoiding deforestation. She argues that LCDS should be using methodologies currently proposed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, a group of 40 countries.
Other groups in Guyana have complained about the lack of transparency in process of establishing national REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) proposals. Indigenous groups fear they could fail to see benefits from the climate change mitigation mechanism, which is expected to be finalized at the December climate talks in Copenhagen.
Jagdeo has been been a strong proponent of REDD in discussions over the past couple of years, believing that REDD offers a way for Guyana to develop without sacrificing its extensive rainforests. But Guyana's low deforestation rate is a hindrance to it winning large payments for avoiding deforestation since REDD focuses on reducing deforestation from a historical baseline. Thus Guyana has been pushing for methodology that would calculate payments using a projected deforestation baseline.
The Office of Climate Change should show us the factual bases on which the LCDS is founded.