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Out of the blue


Climate change efforts woefully inadequate, says Guyana president
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA), December 12, 2008:  Addressing leaders at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) Fourteenth Conference in Poland, Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo warned that there is the risk that the passionate commitment exhibited by some, which has resulted in some progress being made towards a climate solution in recent years, can mask the fact that the efforts of the international community remain woefully inadequate to the task the world is facing.
The President on Thursday addressed the forum alongside UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon as he stressed the need for urgent action to be taken by the leaders to avert an already looming climate catastrophe.
"I decided to come to this conference because I believe that we urgently need to change this situation. In reaching this decision, I was determined not to make the same mistake twice. I was my country's Minister of Finance when the Kyoto Protocol was agreed, and I paid very little attention to it. I failed to see that climate change is not just an environmental issue, but one which cuts to the core of social and economic progress elsewhere," he told the forum.
Jagdeo believes the issue therefore demands first order political commitment and indicated his intention to continue pressing the case that the new climate change agreement to come into effect after the Kyoto Protocol expires, must create meaningful incentives to address deforestation.
The Guyanese leader is also fearful that moves to address climate change are losing momentum as a result of the world economic crisis.
"There is a real danger that the current necessary action to stabilize the world's economy will divert attention away from the even bigger crisis that climate change presents and unlike the economic crisis which originated in this case from a lack of transparency and a failure of regulation and which may be corrected by anti-cynical fiscal stimulus packages, climate change is not a phenomenon which will work its way through an economic cycle," President Jagdeo emphasized.

The President further warned that lack of action will make things irreversibly worse, cause more human suffering and will be even more expensive to solve in the longer term, as he added that understanding what needs to be done is the easier part.
"We know that we need to agree a sufficiently ambitious global target, where global emissions are at least 50 percent less in 2050 than they were in 1990 and we know that this means creating market or other funding mechanisms that generate new capital flows of the order of many hundreds of billions of dollars a year. The harder part is building and sustaining the political context needed to make it possible for national leaders to achieve these goals," he said.
Moving to United States President-elect Barack Obama's strong commitment to deep cuts in carbon emissions, the Guyanese Leader stated that even as this is welcomed, the leaders need to remain vigilant and ensure that other countries do not back-pedal on their existing commitments.
"There is an understandable but ultimately damaging dialogue audible in many countries today where some politicians are saying that citizens cannot be expected to support action to combat climate change during an unprecedented economic crisis when they are losing their jobs and their cost of living is rising. The failure of nerve that this represents will drive away those that are starting to invest in climate solutions, and postpone progress for too long," he emphasized.
Jagdeo opined that though some may baulk at the scale of financial resources required and that resources on this scale are unachievable, if there is political will to stimulate resource flows is there, money will be found. In this light, he compared this to the quickly raised $7 trillion to deal with the financial crisis.
"We have frequently heard the justification in countries across the world that banks and other financial institutions needed to be bailed out because they were 'too big to fail', well, the climate change challenge is far bigger still although this is perhaps not as immediately apparent, and the same logic must apply."
He therefore, advised the leaders that to build public support for the tough action needed, they should break the false debate which suggests that countries can either act on climate change or progress their national development. President Jagdeo believes that both must be aligned
"For countries like mine, this means creating low deforestation economies where remuneration for forest carbon services under a properly REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) is sufficient in scale to out-complete the other legitimate economic forces which drive deforestation," he added.
The Guyanese Leader then used the opportunity to point out that the world economy values the commodities which can be sold by high deforestation economic activities while on the other hand does not value low deforestation economic development. Correcting this, he said, is the only way to reduce deforestation.
To support his point, the Head of State urged that:
Those negotiating around a REDD mechanism recognize that all forest countries share the same goal and that focus should continue to be placed on the 'big picture' instead of negotiators becoming obsessed with minute methodological and process issues. In this case he noted that all countries need to work together since if REDD mechanisms exclude any significant group of countries, REDD will fail.
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) which have advocated that forestry should not be part of a global deal as its inclusion will flood the carbon market, and enable Annex 1 countries to avoid taking the tough choices needed to reduce their emissions at the scale required should recognize that the overall global emission reduction commitments must be deep enough. If they are, it was noted that there will then be room in market mechanisms to effectively address deforestation, whilst at the same time ensure that badly needed capital flows go to some of the poorest countries in the world.
Others who have suggested that remuneration for carbon services should not flow to forest countries because there is a risk of corruption and mis-use of funds were asked by the President to take care that they do not jump to patronizing conclusions that all poor countries are corrupt.
"We must also mobilize our people to ensure that they are involved in determining how new carbon resources which flow to our countries might be invested-for example-in Guyana's case, we expect that this will mean investment in health, education, clean energy and adaptation investment that will cost several times our GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
Representatives from approximately 190 countries are taking part in the two-week conference in Poznan, Poland to discuss the way forward on climate change in light of the upcoming new deal on the issue which will need to be established following the expiration of the current Kyoto Protocol.
Meanwhile, during the conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged developed rich countries to take the lead and offer financial resources and technological aid to developing countries and emerging economies. He warned that there may be backsliding by some of the countries in the fight against climate change with the financial crisis now facing the world.
Others who have been lobbying for serious action to be taken on the issue over the years, including former US Presidential candidate and Environmental advocate Al Gore also urged the leaders to take urgent action on the issue.

Predictions of above average 2009 hurricane season
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, December 12, 2008: It's been less than a month since the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season came to an end, but already weather forecasters are predicting that next year will see another "above average" season overall.
Colorado State University forecasters Philip Klotzback and William Gray released a report this week in which they project that 14 named storms will make landfall, with seven of them becoming hurricanes. Three of those, they said, would be Category three or above, hence carrying winds of at least 111 miles per hour.
The forecasters say there is also "an above-average major hurricane landfall risk in the Caribbean".
However, Mr Klotzback cautioned that "there is a large amount of uncertainty with our early December prediction, issued seven months prior to the start of the hurricane season".
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an average season has 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
This year's hurricane season turned out to be one of the most active on record, producing 16 tropical storms, eight of which became hurricanes, including five that were at least Category three.

CGX Energy Completes Corentyne 3D Seismic Program
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, December 10, 2008: CGX Energy Inc. (OYL - TSX-V) is pleased to announce that shooting of the 536 sq km 3D seismic survey on CGX's 100% Corentyne Petroleum Prospecting Licence (PPL) has been completed. In the Georgetown PPL, in which CGX holds a 25% interest, the survey was expanded by 200 sq km to 1,850 sq km. The Georgetown survey has been shot in parallel with the Corentyne and is expected to be completed after the New Year.
Kerry Sully, President & CEO stated, "CGX's share of the combined program is estimated to be $16 million. The Company's Board of Directors has approved a capital program for the period ending September 2009 of $18 million which includes the cost of the 3D seismic program. The additional $2 million will include seismic interpretation, well drilling design and an environmental assessment study. These items will be funded by CGX from existing working capital that at the end of September 2008 was approximately $35 million."
CGX Energy Inc. (TSX-V- OYL) is a Canadian-based oil and gas exploration company focused on the exploration for oil in the Guyana basin. CGX is managed by a team of experienced oil and gas and finance professionals from Canada, U.S.A. and the UK. CGX is financed internationally and has shareholders worldwide.
Additional information on CGX Energy may also be examined and/or obtained through the internet by accessing CGX Energy's website at

Bad deals for whales and the Caribbean
By Sir Ronad Saunders
London, UK, December 7, 2008: For several years, at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the six independent countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Suriname have supported Japan's yen for killing endangered species of whales.
But, last June the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerritt, boldly broke ranks and announced in advance
of the IWC's 60th meeting that Dominica would abstain on a vote for "the sustainable use of marine resources", which really means "killing whales".
It now seems that his principled position should have been adopted by the other Caribbean countries. The Japanese are working out an unsavoury deal with the outgoing George W. Bush administration of the United States that might not only give them what they want, but also shed them of any need for Caribbean support.
Before I proceed any further with this commentary, I should make it clear that I am opposed to the killing of whales. Equally, I am opposed to unilateral rules on taxation and financial services made by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that are imposed on small jurisdictions such as those in the Caribbean.
Japan, a leading member of the OECD and the current co-chair of its Global Forum on Taxation, is a hawk on this issue which, since 1998, has severely damaged the offshore financial services of many Caribbean jurisdictions.
IWC meetings have been bogged down with acrimonious debate between countries that support whaling such as Japan, Norway and Iceland on the one hand and, on the other, several countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and North America.
The larger Caribbean countries, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and the Bahamas, are not members of the IWC.
They look after their marine interests in other organisations such as the FAO's Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission.
The issue of Japan's whale-killing for what it claims are "scientific" purposes has bedeviled the IWC, particularly as whale meat ends up as a delicacy on the tables of some of the elite in Japan.
Suffering repeated failures to block the IWC from establishing whale sanctuaries and to lift restrictions on whale hunting, Japan actively recruited countries to join the IWC. Among these "recruits" are the six small Caribbean countries and Suriname.
Many international organisations - and knowledgeable persons within Caribbean countries ­ have accused the Japanese of "buying" the votes of the small Caribbean countries.
When Skerritt made his announcement, Andrew Armour, President of Carib Whale, a group advocating for the protection of marine resources, is reported by the Caribbean Media Corporation as saying that Japan is no longer interested in "buying votes".
The point has also been made that, apart from St Vincent and the Grenadines which carries out a traditional subsistence hunt for whales under an IWC-regulated total-quota of 20 Humpback whales in the five-year period up to 2007, commercial whaling gives no tangible economic or resource benefit to the people of Caribbean countries.
An authoritative study shows that the reverse is true since the tourist industry earns a combined sum of US$22 million from whale-watching in just four countries: St Lucia, St Kitts-Nevis, Grenada, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. When the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas are added to this list, the revenues to the Caribbean are considerably larger.
Now it looks as if the support of the remaining five OECS countries and Suriname for Japan at the IWC might backfire, and Japan might get all it wants with no need to be helpful to them.
A closed door meeting of 24 members of IWC's 81-member states will be held in Cambridge, England during the week beginning tomorrow (8th December) to discuss, among other things, the future of whaling. Three Caribbean countries - Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts-Nevis and St Lucia - are listed among the 24.
The meeting has been organised by IWC Chair and US Commissioner Dr. William Hogarth, an appointee of the present George W. Bush administration in the United States. Hogarth has indicated that he is working on a compromise package on whaling that would satisfy the Japanese.
It is quite remarkable that he is doing so despite the evident opposition of the US Congress and the US public to commercial whaling in the 21st century, and without giving the incoming administration of Barack Obama an opportunity to speak to the issue. No doubt any "compromise" will be revisited by the Obama administration next year.
Sources close to the IWC have indicated that the "compromise package" on which Hogarth is working would legitimize Japan's "scientific" whaling and give it a new right to kill whales in coastal waters.
Japan itself seems certain of the compromise being negotiated with Hogarth because in mid-November its whaling fleet set sail for Antarctica to hunt around 850 whales, including 50 endangered fin whales.
If, indeed, the outgoing Bush administration and the Japanese government manage to agree a package that gives Japan what it wants, Japan will have no further requirement to recruit countries to support it at the IWC.
Once Japan no longer requires such support, there will be no need to continue to give incentives to any country in return for its support.
So the Japanese might get their way, and the leverage of the small Caribbean countries might disappear as would the blandishments of the Japanese.
But, other countries at the Cambridge meeting will work to stop the "compromise package" between the outgoing Bush Administration and the Japanese.
It is to be hoped that the three Caribbean countries will change tack and either not attend the meeting or abstain from voting on the "package".
Caribbean countries may find themselves in an adversarial position with the Japanese on an issue of far greater importance to them than the pitiful benefits some of them get from supporting whaling.
As Co-Chair of the OECD's Global Forum on Taxation, Japan issued a letter on November 26th with new criteria for deciding whether so-called "tax havens" should be penalised. Caribbean countries, which were blacklisted in 1998, will be among those under scrutiny.
The three Caribbean countries attending the Cambridge meeting should bear in mind the OECD threat to their financial services as they ponder support for Japan on whaling.
Editor's Note: The author is a business consultant and former Caribbean diplomat. Responses to:

Montserrat Volcano Erupts Again
CaribWorldNews, BRADES, Montserrat, Thurs. Dec. 4, 2008: Former capital of Montserrat, Plymouth, was yesterday set ablaze as the famous Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted again.
Scientists at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory say an explosion and pyroclastic flow occurred at the Soufriere Hills Volcano without any warning on the western side of the lava dome.
The explosion sent large blocks to distances up to a kilometer from the dome and pyroclastic flow travelled down Gages Valley and into Plymouth where buildings there were set alight.
The fire last for several hours afterwards, officials said.
The explosion and pyroclastic flow also generated ash columns and these were accompanied by lightning strikes. Scientists say the hazard level around the area remains at level three or dangerous.
Plymouth, the former capital city, was abandoned when the volcano erupted in 1997 and killed 19 people. The area has been a ghost town since.

IDB funds road rehab in Suriname
PARAMARIBO, Suriname, November 28, 2008: The Inter American Development Bank (IDB) is providing up to US$62.5 million to help Suriname rehabilitate and improvement works along one of the country's busiest routes.
The IDB said the loan would assist in repaving the 140-kilometre Meerzog-Albina road, which links the capital Paramaribo with the eastern border with French Guyana. That stretch has undergone little maintenance since its construction in the 1960s.
The programme will also widen the road, refurbish seven of its 14 bridges, upgrade the existing 60 culverts, and improve urban crossings and roadside amenities such as pedestrian sidewalks, bus stops and parking areas to increase safety.
"The project aims to improve access to important productive areas and health and educational services for the population, facilitate tourism and regional integration. In addition, the investment will reduce travel time and operating costs and increase safety for pedestrians and vehicles using the road, which accounts for 23 per cent of the country's total traffic flow," the IDB statement released this week said.

2008 saw record-breaking hurricane season
MIAMI, USA (AFP), November 27, 2008: The record-breaking 2008 hurricane season, which officially ends on Sunday, has been one of the most active since comprehensive reports began 64 years ago, a US government agency said Wednesday.
For the first time on record, six consecutive tropical cyclones; Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike -- struck the US mainland and three major hurricanes -- Gustav, Ike and Paloma -- made landfall in Cuba, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
And for the first time the North Atlantic region witnessed major hurricanes for five consecutive months, reaching between category 3 and category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the agency added.
Hurricanes Bertha in July, Gustav in August, Ike in September, Omar in October and Paloma in November were all intense storms, resulting in serious damage in the US and the Caribbean.
"The information we'll gain by assessing the events from the 2008 hurricane season will help us do an even better job in the future," said National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read.
"With this season behind us, it's time to prepare for the one that lies ahead," he warned.
A total of 16 named storms formed during the season, which runs for six months between June 1 and November 30 in the North Atlantic, according to the agency's Miami-based National Hurricane Center.
Eight of those tropical storms became hurricanes, five of which were major hurricanes with a Category 3 strength or higher -- numbers well above normal. A season has an average of 11 storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

CARICOM task force welcomes Obama's statement on climate change
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (JIS), November 26, 2008: The CARICOM Task Force on Climate Change and Development has welcomed the views of President-elect Barack Obama for a cap and trade system approach to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and further supports the targets to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and another 80% by 2050.
The Region's support for Obama's proposals was indicated at the First Meeting of the Caribbean Task Force on Climate Change and Development held in Saint Lucia from 21-22 November 2008.
Assistant Secretary-General of CARICOM, Dr Edward Greene, Chairman of the inaugural meeting, said that "this indication of a change in US policy on climate change augurs well for the Caribbean's strategic agenda in particular and more generally for small island developing states."
The Regional Body also reinforced the importance of advocating regional priorities within key international forums such as the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States.
Given the vast renewable energy resources of the Region, the Task Force is of the view that there are potentially significant social, economic and environmental benefits to be derived through a partnership with the US and others for the development of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels.

Wanted: funding to deal with climate change
MEXICO CITY, Mexico, November 26, 2008: The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean need billions of dollars to deal with the economic impact of climate change - funding that is not easily found on the international market.
A World Bank study, presented at the start of a recent congress of legislators from the Americas meeting in Mexico City to discuss the challenges of the global financial and climate crises, says natural disasters related to climate change, like storms, drought and flooding, cost an average of 0.6 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the affected countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
If the frequency of natural disasters increases from one every four years to one every three years, per capita GDP could shrink by two per cent per decade in the region, according to the report presented by Laura Tuck, Director of the World Bank's department of Sustainable Development for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The economy of the Caribbean region alone could experience US$6 billion in losses by 2050 in tourism, coastal protection, and the pharmaceutical and fishing industries.
Although Latin America accounts for a small proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions, the region will need to take measures for staying on a high-growth low-carbon track, Tuck said at the meeting taking place in the Mexican legislature.
A total of 77 lawmakers took part in the Americas Legislators' Forum on Climate Change, held under the auspices of the Mexican Congress, the World Bank, the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE), the Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development (COM+), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
This is the first time politicians from the entire region have come together to discuss measures to address climate change.
"We need funds to take measures against climate change, but financing is scarce," Jamaican legislator Noel Arscott told IPS.
Over the next five years, Jamaica will need US$1 billion to US$2 billion to develop renewable energies in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
Latin America is responsible for 12 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which according to the scientific community are causing global warming and climate change. Brazil and Mexico, Latin America's giants, are the biggest emitters in the region.
"We can adopt measures to modify our energy base, but what we need is adaptation, for which funds must come from industrialised countries, which are the ones who must take measures to cut emissions," Salvadoran legislator Lourdes Palacios told IPS.
The GLOBE meeting was intended to open up discussions ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland next month.
The December 9-10 conference in Poland will assess compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, which went into force in 2005, setting specific targets for industrialised countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of the immediate effects of climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean are a 0.1 degree Celsius rise in temperature over the last decade, exceptionally strong hurricanes, flooding in southern Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and drought in Chile, southwestern Argentina and Peru.
The long-term effects in the region, according to the World Bank report, include the disappearance of tropical glaciers, the expansion of tropical diseases, the destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems like coral reefs and rainforest, a drop in agricultural production and the devastation of coastal infrastructure.
Latin America and the Caribbean have more than 33 per cent of the world's total forest biomass and 65 per cent of all tropical forest biomass. The region accounts for 12 per cent of global agricultural exports and three per cent of jobs in the agricultural sector.
The draft of the meeting's final declaration proposes that the leading developing nations should assume commitments by 2020 to reduce the intensity of carbon emissions, and that industrialised countries should transfer the necessary resources and technology to that end.
But Ms Tuck warned that despite innovations, Latin America and the Caribbean have been following a high carbon growth model.
The World Bank recommended that the region establish an international architecture on climate change and domestic policies to adapt to the effects of global warming and take advantage of the opportunities for mitigation.
Ms Tuck suggested viable mechanisms for obtaining financial support for policies aimed at curbing deforestation and soil degradation, carbon trading schemes that promote hydroelectricity and the reduction of trade barriers to biofuels. (IPS)The IDB loans will finance 49 per cent of the total cost of the project while the government of Suriname will fund the remaining 51 per cent.
The project was prepared in coordination with the European Commission and the French Development Agency, including joint missions and parallel financing of preliminary studies. The joint work of the three international donors was led by the Bank.

Guyana secures US$1B alumina plant deal
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, November 26, 2008: Guyana has sealed what the government has said is the largest ever single investment in the country's history, with the signing of a US$1 billion agreement for a Chinese company, Bosai Minerals Group, to build an alumina plant there.
The massive project in the mining town of Linden will provide employment for approximately 700 people during its initial stages and will require a permanent workforce of 1,000.
"It is rare that a country has an investment that almost approximates the size of the Gross Domestic Product and this could have a positive impact on overall GDP," said President Bharrat Jagdeo at the signing of the agreement yesterday.
"Linden is very important for us, the whole bauxite corridor is important for us...we think that this investment can make a big difference in other places in that corridor going up the Ituni all the way to Kwakwani," he added.
Managing Director of Bosai, Zhilun Yuan, said the project would be successful if the government of Guyana and Bosai work closely together to achieve common goals. He added that his company plans to conduct additional expansion work in the Caribbean country.
But President Jagdeo also cautioned that although Guyana has signed the agreement, there is still more work to be done before the construction phase.
Bosai said the facility should be completed within three years, after the completion of a feasibility study in September next year. But the global financial crisis is expected to will impact on the project's timeline since the demand for all commodities, including alumina and its products, has fallen significantly.
However, the Guyana leader said he was hopeful that the impact on this project would be minimal, noting that Bosai has so far been resilient in the face of the financial crisis.