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Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda’s Address to Mark Energy Week 2011

Fellow Citizens and Residents of Antigua and Barbuda:
It is a pleasure for me to address you today at the start of a week of activities to celebrate Energy Week 2011 under the theme “Clean Technology for a Sustainable Economy.”

Energy Week is an initiative of CARICOM designed to heighten awareness and provide information to the region’s population on sustainable energy options and the need for greater efficiency in the use of energy.

Today, I speak to you against the backdrop of oil prices registering at US $111 per barrel (the second highest since the July 2008 figure of US$ 147 per barrel).

The constant rise of oil prices from an average of US$25 per barrel 30 years ago to over US $140 per barrel today, is no good news to developed countries who are dependent on oil and by extension countries like Antigua and Barbuda who are major importers of commodities.

The continuing rise in the price of oil coupled with the escalation of tension in the Middle East and in Libya has major economic implications for Antigua and Barbuda and the region. Without swift and decisive action, the end results could cause significant damage to our economies.

The global economic crisis and the resultant economic challenges being faced by Antigua and Barbuda, require us to implement extraordinary measures swiftly. As a government we must act with a sense of urgency. As a nation, we must act with a common purpose. There is no time for delay.

We are required to devise ways and means to develop our renewable energy resources with the aim of changing our energy matrix to ensure the production of cleaner energy and thereby reducing our carbon emissions.

To meet our goals and combat the challenges, we have established an energy taskforce, which was mandated to construct the necessary framework needed to create a National Energy Policy for Antigua & Barbuda.

The government has also signed off on the SIDS DOCK initiative, which is an institutional mechanism established to facilitate the development of a sustainable energy economy within small-island developing states. This institutional mechanism will benefit Antigua & Barbuda by way of its four principal functions.

1. Assisting SIDS with developing a sustainable energy sector, increasing energy efficiency and development of renewable energy resources.

2. Providing a vehicle for mobilizing financial and technical resources to catalyze clean economic growth.

3. Provide SIDS with a mechanism for connecting with the global carbon market and taking advantage of the resource transfer possibilities that will be afforded.

4. A mechanism to help SIDS generate the financial resources to invest in climate change adaptation.

The Government of Antigua & Barbuda has also identified five priority areas aimed at creating a sustainable energy environment. These five priority areas are:

1. Energy Cost Reduction
2. Diversification of Energy Sources
3. Electricity Reliability
4. Environmental Protection, and;
5. Stimulate New Economic Opportunities.

As part of government’s efforts to ensure energy cost reduction, we have partnered with the CARICOM secretariat to conduct energy audits on the entire government complex to help to devise conservation measures and energy efficient techniques to help reduce the government office complex overall energy demand.

To date, studies on three (3) of these building have been completed, with the remainder to be completed before the end of this year.

To achieve our mandated targets of 15% renewable energy by 2030, the Government is clearly aware that we must diversify our energy matrix to include all applicable sources of renewable energy.

One way by which we have chosen to do this is by engaging with APUA to devise creative yet safe procedures to give the public the opportunity to become more energy independent.

APUA has already formulated a Renewable Energy Policy in keeping with government’s mandated targets allowing for small distributed renewable generating systems to become a part of our energy matrix.

The Government has also received a grant from the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas to build a standalone photo-vol-taic system at one of our most prestigious national parks “Shirley Heights Look Out”.

This project will add credence to our green tourism product, attracting more eco friendly tourist to our shores. The Energy Desk will also pursue the installation of Solar Street Lights in the Shirley Heights area to help provide a safer environment for tourists and locals alike and thus creating a comfortable atmosphere for all to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of our country.

I wish also to point out here that the Antigua Public Utilities Authority, with the assistance of Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme, has installed four wind stations for gathering data for wind energy to determine the potential for wind as a source of energy in Antigua & Barbuda. The locations of the four (4) sites are Crabbs, Freetown, McNish Mountain and Barbuda.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In keeping with the Government’s strategic intentions to diversify the energy matrix, and to stimulate new renewable energy and energy efficient business opportunities while safeguarding the environment and mitigating the effects of climate change, the Government has agreed to grant exemption from applicable duties and taxes on the importation of selected renewable and energy efficient components.

In an attempt to collect the necessary baseline data the Government has approved the application for duty free concessions on the importation of an electric car to an interested individual.

We also intend to continue our valiant effort towards becoming a more sustainable nation and reducing our carbon footprint on the environment by moving forward with the development in capacity building, energy efficiency programmes and strategic implementation of renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind.

We will also accelerate our engagement with various agencies such as the CARICOM Secretariat, Organization of American States, General Environmental Facility as well as other supporting agencies to further assist in incorporating these new technologies as part of our energy matrix.

Over the next few months, the Energy Desk in the Office of the Prime Minister will:

1. Focus on energy mitigation strategies that could reduce energy consumption in all government buildings by 30%. It is with these facts that the Government endeavors to conduct energy audits on all of its institutions in Antigua & Barbuda.

2. Endeavor to bring more awareness to the schools by sourcing the necessary funds to install a renewable energy source at each public school, and

3. Continue further research into clean technologies so that it can expand upon the list of Clean Technology components selected for applicable concessions to the people of Antigua & Barbuda.

Your government is doing its part. As citizens and residents, you too are called to play a role to develop concrete and effective strategies that will change our landscape towards a diversified energy matrix.

During this week of activities, which will include a panel discussion on ABS Television, a Public Speaking and Debate Competition and an Energy Awareness Street Fair, we ask you to let your voices be heard. Ensure that you play a part in improving efficiency of use along with increasing the contribution from renewable energy.

As your government devise plans and programmes to address the global economic crisis, the transition to renewable energy presents a unique opportunity for us not only to make our contribution to climate change but also to further build our economy.

It is a huge task – but an achievable one – If we move forward together as true patriots of Antigua and Barbuda.

I wish you a successful Energy Week 2011, as we all play a part in the promotion of clean technology for a sustainable Antigua and Barbuda. Thank You very much.

Category/ies:Antigua & Barbuda News, Antigua & Barbuda Speeches.
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