By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
NEW DELHI, India — Guyana President David Granger, who is attending the first International Solar Alliance Summit in New Delhi, India, reiterated that “climate change is a real threat,” and he praised India and France for “demonstrating important leadership” on the issue by taking the “solar energy” initiative. He also said that Guyana will benefit from technology transfer from the solar energy alliance group.
The solar energy summit, hosted by India and France, was attended by 16 heads of state, four prime ministers, two vice-presidents and three deputy prime ministers. They included the heads of France, Rwanda, Togo, Gabon, Ghana, Niger, Bangladesh, Mali, Australia, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Chad, the Comoros, Gabon, Ghana, Equatorial New Guinea, Djibouti and Burkina Faso.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with Granger and “discussed ways to step up cooperation with the Caribbean nation”.
“Historical linkages with a friend from the Caribbean… Climate change, renewable energy, trade and investment, capacity building and developmental cooperation were discussed,” an Indian foreign minister official tweeted.
Granger said that solar energy should be made accessible to everyone and that investment and capacity building should be made possible, so that smaller states like Guyana can also benefit from solar energy cooperation.
Guyana signed and ratified the ISA Convention in January 2018 and the country is in “transition to a green state”. And for this to happen, Guyana is looking to transition into a “solar state”, the president said.
In an interview with the media, Granger said Guyana will benefit from technology transfer.
He said, “The one big takeaway is that there will be some amount of technology transfer to Guyana, which is well positioned in the Tropic of Cancer and just a few degrees above the Equator. We would like to see Indian firms investing in Guyana. We are the gateway to South America.”
In response to a question by a journalist about US President Donald Trump’s opposition to the Paris agreement, Granger said, “Many countries have ignored the opposition because they feel that climate change is something real. So it is just a matter of time before the doubters come on board. Living in Guyana, we are quite aware of the dangers of climate change. For the first time in my life, I heard about Houston being flooded and hit by hurricanes. So we have to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. I think ISA is a good move.”
Meanwhile, the vice-president of Suriname, Ashwin Adhin, connected the importance of the sun as an energy source to India religious texts. He also said that Suriname is introducing solar energy through the state oil company, Staatsolie.
Adhin told the summit that 93 percent of Suriname is covered with forest and recently an Energy Authority was established in Suriname. Suriname, he said, will soon ratify the treaty and play a major role in the group so that it can benefit from projects discussed at the summit.
France has committed 700 million euros in additional spending to its commitment to solar energy by 2022, which will take its total commitment to 1 billion Euros. India will allocate $1.4 billion which will be part of the $2 billion under the Indian line of credit and part of the $10 billion for development projects abroad pledged by New Delhi earlier. The UAE has also committed funds to support renewable energy.
Guyana and other Caribbean countries will benefit from UAE funded projects. At the summit, Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi said that his country has taken the initiative “to earmark US$350 million to support renewable energy projects in developing countries via the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), together with the assistance we provided through other channels”.
“The aid allocated by the UAE for renewable energy projects has reached around US$1 billion, placing it as the world’s largest donor in this regard in proportion to its gross national income,” he said.