‘What gives you right to lecture us’: Guyanese Prez rebukes journalist over climate change question

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Georgetown: In a viral video clip from BBC’s HardTalk show, Guyanese President Irfaan Ali engaged in a heated exchange with the host of the program regarding Guyana’s plans for oil and gas extraction and its impact on carbon emissions.

When questioned about the potential carbon emissions from extracting oil and gas off Guyana’s coast, President Ali questioned the host’s authority to lecture on climate change. He pointedly asked if the host was influenced by those responsible for historical environmental damage, stating, “Are you in the pockets of those who destroyed the environment through the Industrial Revolution and are now lecturing us?”

‘Let me stop you right there’: Guyanese President schools journalist

President Ali highlighted Guyana’s significant forest cover, equivalent to the combined size of England and Scotland, which stores 19.5 gigatons of carbon. He emphasised Guyana’s commitment to preserving its forests, boasting the lowest deforestation rate globally. “Let me stop you right there. Do you know that Guyana has a forest cover that is the size of England and Scotland combined? A forest that stores 19.5 gigatons of carbon. Forests that we have kept alive,” said Irfaan Ali.

Irfaan Ali did not wait for the host to finish and retorted, “Does that give you the right to lecture us on climate change? I am going to lecture you on climate change because we have kept this forest alive that stores 19.5 gigatons of carbon that you enjoy, that the world enjoys.”

Responding to the host’s concerns about carbon release, President Ali asserted that even with increased oil and gas exploration, Guyana would maintain a net-zero emissions status. He highlighted the “hypocrisy” in developed countries’ attitudes towards developing nations’ resource exploration.

Ali also challenged the international community to recognize and compensate Guyana for its environmental stewardship. He accused developed nations of failing to adequately value and pay for the biodiversity preservation efforts of countries like Guyana.

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