Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cilve Thomas's unwarranted attack on Norway deserves condemnation!

Mike Persaud: I refer to Prof Clive Thomas’s Sunday Stabroek columns of December 13 and 20 titled ‘Norway and Guyana’s rainforest’

As usual Prof Thomas does great analysis on major economic and social issues. His columns provide great educational value. But I have serious problems with what I would characterize as his scathing attack on Norway, as well as on the REDD deal between Norway and Guyana.

As of today cap-and-trade is not codified into international law neither is it part of an international treaty on reducing carbon emissions. Norway is not bound by any law or treaty to make a deal with any country that has rainforest. Yet Norway committed itself to pay Guyana $50 million a year to essentially earn carbon credits for itself, and for Guyana in return to preserve its rainforest.

Let the forest trees of Guyana breathe in and store carbon in exchange for the carbon emissions Norway must necessarily release into the atmosphere as part of earning its livelihood, namely, the production and export of fossil fuels. It was a mutual and fair deal neither party was pressured to enter into. So what is the justification for Thomas’s attack on one of the parties to the deal? Norway does not seek to colonize Guyana or take advantage of its forest resource.

In making this precedent-setting REDD deal, Norway has to be seen as a pioneering and generous nation – together with Guyana as a partner – to point the way forward in saving the planet. Did Guyana trade preservation of its forests with Norway at a bargain-basement price? There is no evidence of this. Maxwell, a letter writer to this newspaper claimed Guyana should be paid $68 million a year instead of $50 million. The truth is this whole business of precisely measuring and valuing carbon emissions is a new and emerging field for the world. The preliminary agreement entered into between Norway and Guyana is called an MOU, a Memorandum of Understanding – and I presume, all prices per ton and number of tons of carbon stored by our forest trees can be renegotiated and/or updated.

In last week’s article, Prof Thomas casts blame on Norway for being involved in the business of production and export of fossil fuels. So are Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia and a host of other countries, yet none of these countries feels any moral constraint about putting up money to preserve rainforests anywhere in the world. Also Norway does not force any country to purchase and consume fossil fuels. The consuming countries must take responsibility for their own carbon emissions.

Note: Those who allege so-called colonization by Norway are simply emitting hot air. Colonization has a purpose historically: to acquire territory, subjugate peoples, and exploit both land and people for material gain. There is nothing in the Norway-Guyana agreement which suggests either forests or Guyanese will be exploited or oppressed. Guyana has nothing to lose in this Norway deal. In the end there will be more trees in the forests and more labba running around than there are presently. If Norway decides to terminate its involvement, or if no other country buys Guyana’s LCDS, we will be free to cut our trees and sell our timber with a clear conscience. As for that colonization thing, some people just like to use multi-syllabic words to sound learned.


  1. It obvious there will be critics towards the agreement between Norway and Guyana. Indeed under international law, it does foster some aspects of negativity, but in this case the MOU agreement has made it this area to be different, with Guyana LCDS programme that has been made vigilant by Norway’s involvement by paying Guyana for the reduction of carbon emissions. Speculations do arise being that Norway is a well developed country may try to take advantage of Guyana rain forest but that is not the case because this agreement is of a different nature that does not necessarily have international law aspects in it. All that there is to do is hope for the best because our government has put great emphasis on the LCDS to work and for other countries to be involved.

  2. Our President is not compromising with Guyana’s development paradigm, and he is unapologetically determined to broker the best deal for the nation and this is not colonization.
    This is the patrimony of Guyanese; and the President of Guyana has invited all stakeholders, including the AFC and the PNC, as well as all the other doomsayers and naysayers, to come on board the LCDS train and let our nation develop and prosper through openly brokered deals that will only redound to the benefit of our country and our people.