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‘CARICOM needs cheaper, greener energy’


More efficient energy policies, including the development of renewable energy sources that can reduce the high cost of importing and generating power, will have a positive impact for the economic growth throughout the Caricom region, programme manager for energy at Caricom, Joseph Williams, said yesterday.


“It can be easily seen that issues (like) economic growth and external debt are intricately linked to the countries’ energy situation. For most member states, energy forms a critical binding constraint to economic growth and competitiveness given its pervasive nature, as a critical input to the productive sector. The cost of energy imports represents a drag on the national budgets, and serves to aggravate the external debt situation, for many Caricom countries. This is more acute in cases where government subsidies exist to ameliorating the impact of energy costs,” he said.


Williams addressed the audience at the third annual Caricom Energy Week at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain. 


The theme for this year’s observance, which will be hosted by Trinidad and Tobago, is “A Secure and Sustainable Energy Future begins Now: Reflect and Re-set for clean and green energy, energy efficiency and energy diversification. As part of the week’s events, there will be a display booth set up on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain. There will also be a launch ceremony in San Fernando today.   

Strategies for addressing economic growth and the external debt over the long term, he said, will necessarily require addressing the high cost of energy in the various territories.


Williams said the Caricom oil import bill is approximately 10-15 per cent of the total regional GDP (of US$65-70 billion). 


“This is not sustainable economically; in the case of Trinidad and Tobago, being a major producer and net exporter, any reduction means greater opportunity for export and also local consumption.


In most Caricom member states, a small shift in demand based on increase in energy efficiency, can yield saving of millions of dollars in oil import bill,” he said.  


He said the region should therefore consider the development of clean energy, including natural gas, along with renewable energy options to provide solutions for high energy costs. 


“To begin with, energy is so integral to all that we do that often times we take it for granted.  Yet, in so doing we run the risk of undermining our future development. It is worthwhile to note that while we often take our energy for granted, about 45 per cent of the population of the Community don’t have access to modern forms of energy.


All stakeholders must necessarily be engaged since the energy issues span the social, economic, political, technical, and also has profound environmental dimensions,” he said.



Category/ies:News, Regional News.
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