‘I’m Not Finished Yet…’: Guyana President Shuts BBC Interviewer Down On Climate Change, Video Goes Viral – News18

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Guyana President Irfaan Ali told BBC journalist Stephen Sackur to not lecture the nation on climate change and oilfield exploration. (Image: YouTube)

Guyana President Irfaan Ali shut down BBC’s Stephen Sackur, who hosts the interview programme HARDTalk while discussing climate change and Guyana’s new oilfields.

Guyana President Irfaan Ali while discussing Guyana’s recently found offshore oilfields had an argument with BBC’s Stephen Sackur, who hosts the interview programme HARDTalk, over climate change.

Irfaan Ali did not approve when journalist Sackur questioned him regarding Guyana’s plans to drill oil from its recently discovered oil reserves. “Over the next decade or two, it’s expected that there will be 150 billion dollars worth of oil and gas extracted off your coast. It’s an extraordinary figure. But in practical terms, that means two billion tons of carbon emissions will come from your seabed and be released into the atmosphere,” Sackur said.

President Ali immediately interjected and said: “Let me stop you right there! Did you know that Guyana has a forest that is the size of England and Scotland combined, a forest that stores 19.5 gigatons of carbon, that we have kept alive”.


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He then peppered Sackur with many counterpoints. Sackur tried to counter by asking if protecting Guyana’s forests gave him the right to release carbon in the atmosphere.

This visibly enraged Ali, who said in response: “Does that give you the right to lecture us on climate change? I’m going to lecture you on climate change. We have kept this forest alive that you enjoy that the world enjoys, that you don’t pay us for, that you don’t value. Guess what? We have the lowest deforestation rate in the world! Guess what? Even with the greatest exploration of oil and gas we will still be net zero”.

“This is the hypocrisy that exists in the world. The world in the last 50 years has lost 65 percent of its biodiversity. We have kept ours,” he further added.

The enraged Guyanese President then asked Sackur if he was “in the pockets of those who destroy the environment through the Industrial Revolution”.

The back and forth between the BBC journalist and the Guyanese President also reminds one of debates surrounding the issue of carbon imperialism. Carbon imperialism is a term used by developing economies who feel the West and Global North forces their views on environmental protection by lecturing them on carbon emissions while ignoring that in a carbon-based economy developed nations will have to depend on carbon for their growth.

ExxonMobil and other oil companies discovered oil in commercial quantities in the Essequibo region, Guyana-Suriname basin and off the coast of Guyana over the past few years.

Guyana boasts reserves of about 11 billion barrels and that means Guyana’s per capita growth could increase because of these oil fields which could transform the nation into a developed country as huge amounts of oil and gas under its coastal waters puts the nation in the top 20 on par with countries like Norway, Brazil and Algeria.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Guyana is also South America’s fastest growing economy, and has grown by 62% last year. The IMF also predicted that domestic product per head will top $60,000. It was $11,000 when the oil deposits were first discovered in 2015.

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