Guyana's president owns BBC journalist in viral clip for lecturing him about climate change: 'Let me stop you right there'

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Guyana President Mohamed Irfaan Ali is going viral for shutting down a BBC journalist who tried to lecture him about climate change.

Just a decade ago, nearly half of Guyana's population lived in poverty. But the country's economic fortunes changed in 2015 when significant deposits of oil — billions of barrels' worth of oil, in fact — were discovered off the coast of the South American country. Now, Guyana's economy is one of the fastest-growing in the world.

But in a recent interview with Ali, BBC journalist Stephen Sackur tried to scandalize Guyana's economic prosperity by invoking climate change. He said:

Let's take a big-picture look at what's going on here: Over the next decade, two decades, it is expected that there will be $150 billion worth of oil and gas extracted off your coast. It's an extraordinary figure. But think of it in practical terms. That means, according to many experts, more than 2 billion tons of carbon emissions will come from your seabed from those reserves and be released into the atmosphere.

President Ali, however, refused to be the subject of Sackur's virtue-signaling.

"Let me stop you right there," Ali said.

"Do you know that Guyana has a forest, forever, that is the size of England and Scotland combined? A forest stores 19.5 gigatons of carbon, a forest that we have kept alive?" he continued.

"Does that give you the right to release all of this carbon?" Sackur interjected.

But Ali wasn't playing games.

"Does that give you the right to lecture us on climate change?" he shot back. "I am going to lecture you on climate change because we have kept this forest alive that stores 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.

"Guess what? We have in 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 zero, Guyana will still be net zero with all our exploration," Ali continued.

At that point, Sackur still tried to interrupt, but Ali was not finished speaking.

"This is a hypocrisy that exists in the world," he said. "The world — in the last 50 years — has lost 65% of all its biodiversity. We have kept our biodiversity. Are you valuing it? Are you ready to pay for it? When is the developed world going to pay for it? Or are you in the pockets of those who have damaged the environment? Are you and your system in the pockets of those who destroyed the environment through the Industrial Revolution and now lecturing us? Are you in their pockets? Are you paid by them?"

Sackur never answered any of Ali's questions. Instead, he shifted the interview to a new topic.

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