Exxon breached Guyana permit, court said
May 11, 2023
Exxon Mobil subsidiary Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is in breach of insurance obligations for its first offshore oil project in Guyana in part due to errors by the environmental regulator, according to a landmark ruling by Guyana’s High Court. (Reuters)
The court’s ruling gives Exxon a month to provide an unlimited guarantee to cover all the clean-up costs of a potential spill in the consortium’s offshore operations. (Demerara Waves, Newsroom Guyana, Bloomberg)
Exxon "engaged in a disingenuous attempt" to dilute its obligations under its environmental permit for Liza One, the project that inaugurated Guyana's oil production in 2019, High Court Justice Sandil Kissoon said in the ruling. (Reuters)
In a strongly-worded ruling, Kissoon noted that the EPA had shelved its statutory responsibilities in exchange of a derelict and submissive deposition, leaving “Guyana and its people in grave potential danger of calamitous disaster.” (Kaieteur News)
Guyana’s government said it disagreed with Kissoon’s interpretation, and that the guarantee is not meant to be unlimited. The government filed an appeal against the ruling, and said the ruling could have significant economic and other impacts on the public interest and national development. (Reuters, Oil Now)
“The unlimited guarantee has specific meaning in light of past oil spills,” according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “The environmental impact statement for the Guyana project identified 12 islands with a gross state product of $147 billion that could be affected by an oil spill.”
Experts worry that Guyana lacks the expertise and legal and regulatory framework to handle the influx of oil wealth. They say it could weaken democratic institutions, reports the Associated Press.
Caribbean indifferent to coronation
The coronation of British King Charles last Saturday fell flat in many Caribbean countries, a stark difference to the jubilation that marked his predecessor, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
Across the commonwealth, but particularly in the Caribbean where countries are grappling with the British legacy of slavery, and calling for meaningful reparations, “the first coronation in seven decades is being mostly met with indifference,” reports the Washington Post.
“In those countries, the first crowning of a British monarch in 70 years is an occasion to reflect on oppression and colonialism’s bloody past,” reports the Associated Press.
Caribbean countries and people were represented in the coronation ceremony, but “in light of the UK's past responses to the issue of reparations … such attempts at diversity rang hollow for many Caribbean citizens,” writes Janine Mendes-Franco in Global Voices.
“The greater awareness of our colonial past and the harsh brutality inflicted on our forefathers makes a coronation of a king from our former royal family less than appealing. We’re far more interested in what this new king may say and do to correct the injustices of that past,” writes Suleiman Bulbulia, a commissioner on Barbados’s constitutional reform commission, in the Guardian.
Britain’s history of colonization and slavery is leading to transitions out of the modern Commonwealth, which some believe is a form of neo-colonialism, reports Time magazine.
Belize, one of eight remaining English-speaking Caribbean countries in the British Commonwealth, could be the first country to remove the newly crowned King Charles as head of state, reports the Guardian.
Jamaica, another Caribbean Commonwealth country, is advancing with plans to become a republic, and will hold referendum on whether to cut ties with the British monarchy in 2024, reports the New York Times.
St. Kitts and Nevis will hold a public consultation on whether the country should become a republic, said Prime Minister Terrance Drew, who also said he would welcome an apology from the monarchy for its historic links to the slave trade. (BBC)
Al Jazeera spoke to some of London’s Caribbean community about their views on Charles and the Caribbean push to remove the monarchy.
And CBC talks to members of Canada’s Caribbean diaspora on their views of the monarchy.
In the midst of Haiti’s deteriorating security situation, a wave of vigilantism — "Bwa Kale" — has brought optimism and more fear to communities tormented by violent gangs. “Bwa Kale messages and memes are everywhere on Haitian social media, and recording artists like Tony Mix have put out tracks promoting the trend. There is even a Bwa Kale dance,” reports CBC.
Anti-gang vigilantism is spreading and gaining public support, raising the possibility that such movements could coalesce into criminal organisations, warns InSight Crime.
Haiti has descended into anarchy, as vigilante groups respond to gang terror with lynchings. Faced with scraps of a government lacking in democratic credentials, that is supposed to be organizing elections, “many Haitians are hoping instead for an armed international intervention, even knowing that it would prop up (Prime Minister Ariel) Henry’s regime, and even though they have experienced the predations of past actions,” writes Pooja Bhatia in the New Statesman.
Climate Justice, Environment, and Energy
Aruban lawmakers are advancing towards amending the country’s constitution to include a recognition that nature possesses inherent legal rights like the right to exist and regenerate. If they succeed, Aruba would become the world’s second country to constitutionally recognize the rights of nature. (Inside Climate News)
The Center for International Environmental Law has a synthesis note detailing States’ human rights obligations in the context of climate change based on U.N. Human Rights treaty bodies.
Following the historic adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution asking the International Court of Justice to issue an Advisory Opinion on climate change and human rights, the youth and civil society campaign launched the Youth Climate Justice Handbook, a tool aimed to assist states in making submissions before the ICJ.
Guyana’s government published the mining contracts for companies operating in the country, following a two-year long protest by Kaieteur News for citizens to be privy to the terms and benefits for the parties engaged.
Trinidad and Tobago has made significant strides towards renewable energy and low carbon solutions, according to the IDB’s CaribbeanDevTrends.
Different Boats, Same Sea: Gender & Climate Advocacy in the Caribbean — the second annual Caribbean Women for Climate Justice Conference — The Climate Conscious Podcast and The Breadfruit Collective
Facing reality. The Caribbean Women for Climate Justice 2023 Keynote: Keithlin Caroo — The Climate Conscious Podcast and The Breadfruit Collective
St. Lucia become the fifth Caribbean Community country to have full membership with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice, designed to replace the London-based Privy Council as the Caribbean’s final court. (Caribbean Court of Justice, Our Today, Caribbean News Service)
Statistics collated from the CCJ “reveal that in each Caribbean state that has acceded to the CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction, the volume of cases being heard by that country’s final court annually has at least doubled, thereby contributing to the dynamism of the country’s jurisprudence and considerably expanding access to justice for its citizenry.”
The Organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations congratulated St. Lucia for the move.
Gender and LGBTQ Equality
The University of the West Indies postponed a plan to implement a new gender policy, which would require everyone connected to the regional institution to be referred to by the gender with which they identify, according to the Jamaica Observer.
More than 700 same-sex marriages have been celebrated in Cuba since the new Family Code was approved in a referendum last year. (Alturi)
Freedom of Expression
Nuria Piera, a high profile journalist in the Dominican Republic has been targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, in the first confirmed case in the country, according to an Amnesty International investigation.
The University of Guyana launched the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage School Edition at their second Diaspora Conference. (News Room)
Frogs in Puerto Rico are croaking at a higher pitch due to global warming — Guardian
Apply - Caribbean Community Climate Resource Grant for journalists - Climate Tracker and Open Society Foundations
Call for Inputs by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change to support the preparation of his upcoming report to the UN General Assembly regarding "enhancing climate change legislation, support for climate change litigation and advancement of the principle of intergeneration justice"
Apply — Youth Internship Program -- Climate Investment Funds (CIF)
Massive open online course (MOOC) — Solutions Journalism: New ways of elevating your reporting and engaging audiences — Knight Center
28 June — Disability and Climate — Climate Justice - Just Transition Donor Collaborative