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‘Are you in their pockets?’: Guyanese Prez calls out reporter

Published:

NEW DELHI: In a viral video, the

President of Guyana Irfan Ali

called out

BBC journalist

Stephen Sackur in response to a question focussing on Guyana’s carbon emissions. He instead questioned him about his authority to lecture on

climate change

and “if he was in the pockets of those who destroy the environment through the industrial revolution and are now lecturing us”.

The discussion revolved around Guyana’s plans for oil and gas extraction and its potential impact on carbon emissions.
During the interview, President Ali questioned the journalist’s authority to lecture Guyana on climate change, given the historical role of

Western nations

in environmental degradation. He highlighted Guyana’s substantial forest cover, which stores a significant amount of carbon, and emphasized the country’s low deforestation rate.
“Do you know that Guyana has a forest forever that is the size of England and Scotland combined? A forest that stores 19.5 Gigatons of carbon, a forest that we have kept alive.”, President Ali told the journalist.

He said, “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. The store’s 19.5 gigatons of carbon that you enjoy, that the world enjoys, that you don’t pay us for, that you don’t value, that you don’t see a value in, that the people of Guyana has kept alive.”

President Dr Irfaan Ali talks oil & gas & how it is transforming Guyana’s economy on BBC’s HardTALK

When questioned by the journalist about whether this entitles Guyana to extract oil and gas, potentially emitting more carbon, the President responded sharply.

“Guess what? We have the lowest deforestation rate in the world. And guess what? Even with our greatest exploration of the oil and gas resource we have now, we will still be, net 0. Guyana will still be net 0 with all our exploration,” he added.
President Ali strongly criticized what he perceived as hypocrisy from developed nations, suggesting that those who have historically harmed the environment are now scrutinizing Guyana’s actions.
“I am just not finished as yet because this is a hypocrisy that exists in the world. The world, in the last 50 years has lost 65 percent of all its biodiversity. We have kept our biodiversity. Are you valuing it. Are you ready to pay for it? When is developed world is going to pay for it or are you in their pockets?” the

Guyanese President

said.
Further questioning whether the journalist and his affiliations were influenced, he said, “Are you in the pockets of those who have damaged the environment? Are you in the pockets? Are you and your system in the pockets of those who destroy the environment through the industrial revolution and now lecturing us. Are you in their pockets? Are you paid by them?”
This sentiment echoes calls from many developing countries for the West to take responsibility for reducing carbon emissions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also emphasized the urgency for wealthy nations to address their carbon footprint well before 2050 and to provide concrete financial support to aid developing countries in combating climate change.
(With agency inputs)

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