Climate Finance Law in Guyana: Opportunities and Challenges within the Context of Significant Oil Discoveries

Steenmans, K. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Abstract: Guyana is particularly vulnerable to climate change and its effects. It is, for example, highly susceptible to rising sea levels and flooding, as a result of much of its population living at or below sea level and its worn coastal infrastructure. The resultant consequences of increased sea level and flooding are anticipated to include detrimental impacts on human health (through the contamination of potable water and increased incidence of diseases) and on agriculture, one of the most productive sectors of Guyana’s economy (through flooding of valuable agricultural land). Guyana’s government has recognised the urgency of addressing climate change, but identified its limited financial capacity to take adaptation and mitigation action. Nevertheless, it has undertaken some law and policy initiatives to enable increased public and private climate finance. Simultaneously, since 2015 there have been discoveries of significant oil resources estimated to exceed four billion barrels of oil equivalent. Laws and policies exist to support exploration and production of such oil discoveries, which are a major driver of climate change. This paper therefore explores the tensions that exist between laws and policies for the purpose of (1) environmental protection and (2) economic development within the Guyanese climate finance context. In doing so, this paper will investigate existing climate finance mechanisms, such as the Environmental Trust Fund set up by the Environmental Protection Act and the removal of import duty and tax barriers for the importation of renewable energy equipment and other technologies by the Customs (Amendment) Act and the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, as well as the finance mechanisms intended to support oil exploration and production, such as the modification of tax laws permitted for such purposes under the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act. This paper will also identify existing opportunities and challenges as a result of these mechanisms for environmental protection, and recommend a way forward that both promotes environmental protection and economic development. The wider contribution of this paper is thus two-fold: it (1) provides a case study of tensions between environmental protection and economic development from which lessons can be learnt and to which other experiences can be compared, and (2) contributes to the emerging field of climate finance law by identifying the Guyanese experience so far, and some of the challenges to be considered and overcome.
Period13 May 2019
Held atGateway to a Golden Future? Energy development in Guyana
Event typeConference