Sugar sectorExpressing suspicion as to how the Government has used the billions it allocated to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) since taking office in 2015, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is calling for a probe to be launched into how these monies were spent.Articulating the Party’s position on the matter during a Friday morning press conference was PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo. According to Jagdeo, there are discrepancies between the figures quoted by President David Granger in his January 10 speech and Agriculture Minister Noel Holder.Former President Bharrat JagdeoJagdeo quoted verbatim from Granger’s speech, in which the President pointed out that “a new factory at Skeldon in the East Berbice-Corentyne region was built at a cost of US$212 million and $48 billion was expended in financial support to the industry since 2011, while $32 billion was spent over the past 30 months, which when calculated sums up to a rate of about $1 billion a month. This Government cannot sustain the sugar industry in its current state. It has had to make difficult choices in order to ensure the industry’s viability.”The PPP General Secretary noted that the figure quoted in Granger’s speech was divided by the number of months. Jagdeo, an economist by training, observed that this was how the figure of a billion a month was arrived at. According to Jagdeo, however, this does not add up and there is a clear contradiction between the President and his Agriculture Minister.“Holder said over the past seven years, Government pumped $48 billion in GuySuCo. $600 million in 2011; $4 billion in 2012; $5.3 billion in 2013; $6 billion in 2014; $12 billion in 2015; $11 billion in 2016; and $9 billion in 2017,” Jagdeo stated, quoting the Minister. “So when you add this, you see $48 billion over seven years. (But Granger) added $32 billion on top of it in his speech. Then he divided by the number of months and that’s how he came up with $1 billion a month. He over inflated the figures by two times in his speech to the nation. And Holder gave the accurate figures.”Agriculture Minister Noel Holder“Even in those figures, you would see that the period 2011 to 2014, an average of $4 billion a year was given in subsidy to GuySuCo. Between 2015 to 2017, $10.6 billion average. And that is impossible. It’s more than double the subsidy in just three years. We need to have a full-fledged investigation into whether this money was given, how it was spent. And knowing the nature of this Government, I suspect a significant portion of this money may have disappeared. And if they were so good at management, the figure should have deteriorated.”Government had announced that it will pay 50 per cent of the severance benefits to dismissed sugar workers by the end of this month. This commitment represents over $2 billion in severance payments, with a paper seeking to appropriate supplementary funds being laid and debated in the House.It was during this announcement that President Granger in a speech read by the Prime Minister spoke of $48 billion being spent since 2011 on the industry. Jagdeo expressed the belief, however, that the incorrect figures were no mere mistake.“Now when Guyanese hear this figure (from the President), they will say yes it can’t be afforded because it is a large sum of money. So that is what I believe it was designed to do, to say that we can’t afford to keep the sugar industry alive,” he stated.Soon after coming to office, the coalition Government doubled the subsidy to GuySuco to $12 billion. Nine billion dollars was also budgeted for early in the year, with a further $2 billion after the Corporation approached the Government requesting approximately $3.5 billion.A further $9 billion was approved in 2017 for GuySuCo, with Finance Minister Winston Jordan announcing that If Government adhered to the requests for specific monies for GuySuCo, it would be money wasted.In May 2017, Government announced plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by GuySuCo.
For example:According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors survey of 288 members, 67 percent of U.S. cities lack the energy-use data necessary to create a community-scale GHG inventory or any type of local climate action plan.The Philippine Climate Change Commission said that “Community-level greenhouse gas inventory is an important step to guide the 1,634 cities and municipalities in the Philippines in formulating relevant local climate actions that would enable them to track their progress as they transition to a low-emission and climate-resilient development pathway. One of the challenges that needs to be addressed is the difficulty in acquiring, accessing and/or completing the necessary activity data as they conduct their GHG inventory.”In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the city has access to some activity data, but is still missing crucial figures. For example, the City’s Climate Change Division said that “where they can access some data from a company that manages the landfill where the city’s waste is buried, the rest of the municipalities do not have access or find it difficult to obtain the same information.” Because of this, decision-makers must model some of the figures, a labor-intensive endeavor. Large, wealthy cities like Buenos Aires can augment this partially available data, but smaller, less wealthy areas are unable to do the same.A Need for Open and Transparent Activity DataCities, civil society groups and other subnational bodies are requesting that national governments and utilities make more data publicly available. They are pushing forward an agenda of transparency and open activity data, one that if delivered will help cities around the world to accurately set a low-carbon trajectory. For example, at a December 2017 meeting of the Australian Climate Action Roundtable, the represented states and cities agreed to explore a “means to increase accessibility of greenhouse gas inventory activity level data to sub-national governments to support greater subnational climate action and accounting.”Policy experts, advocates and city officials are working hard to increase the success of their climate action commitments. Will national governments, utilities and others heed their call to make more activity data available? Imagine you’re a local sustainability officer developing an initiative to reduce emissions. But you don’t know how many emissions the city produces, or where they’re coming from. You don’t know who the city’s biggest energy users are, how many cars are on the road, or the amount of waste produced every year. And even if you can set goals for reducing emissions, you have no way of measuring progress against them.This is a situation far too many policymakers and city officials face every day. While cities occupy only 2 percent of the world’s land, they account for 70 percent of global emissions. Lacking the right data to take action puts them—and the whole world—in jeopardy.The Data Cities Have vs. the Data They NeedThere is a growing number of cities around the world moving toward efficient and clean energy systems in order to help meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. To accelerate this momentum, we must make it easier for cities to conserve their scarce funds, time and capacity, and empower them with the data needed to improve decision-making. Yet cities, particularly those in developing countries, are experiencing a “data drought” and need support to address it.To set and track progress on local and national climate goals, it is important to have open and free activity data—data on energy use, transport fuel, vehicle miles traveled, waste, agriculture, land use, industry and more. Activity data allows cities to gain insights into which activities have the largest impact on reducing city-wide emissions—whether through electricity generation, energy use for buildings, transportation or land use choices.The information they have, however, is often insufficient and partial data in formats unsuited to their needs. When they do have data, it’s often national or regional figures on transportation, land use and other sectors, which are hard to translate into city-level activity data. Even wealthy cities with a long history of emissions accounting face this data drought.Buenos Aires, Argentina is one of many cities struggling to get the activity data needed to create climate action plans. Photo by Halloween HJB/Pixabay