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Jamaica gets going on emissions reduction

Published:Thursday | April 2, 2015 | 4:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor

JAMAICA HAS begun work to reduce its contributions to the fuel that fires global climate change - greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This is in accordance with obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and towards a more secure energy future.

Head of the Climate Change Division (CCD) Albert Daley made the revelation last week Wednesday, noting that the services of the United States-based entity National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) had been secured to inform the island's Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

INDCs constitute individual country pledges for emissions reduction that are to be submitted ahead of the international climate talks set for Paris in December.

NREL arrangement

"We have an arrangement with NREL to help us with the modelling that is necessary to get a clear sense as to the level of emissions that we would have if we continue with business as usual and if we put policies in place that would allow the usage of more renewable sources of energy," Daley told The Gleaner.

"The study ... will help us to develop our INDCs on the basis of facts. So whatever we are committing to, we will get a good sense of whether it is realistic or not and, second, what are the levels of investment that are required to achieve that mix and the level of GHG reduction that will arise as a result of the INDCs we intend to make," he added.

Already, the CCD boss noted, one of NREL's technical experts has visited the island to collect preliminary data, with future visits and further consultations planned for the coming months.

"We have an energy policy and that will be adjusted to help us to realise our targets. We are already committed to ensuring renewable energy will be 20 per cent of our energy mix ... so, [the study] is helping us to, on a scientific basis, determine our INDCs. What we are getting is the technical information to help us determine exactly what we want," Daley explained.

While Jamaica's current emissions are low to negligible when compared to the world's major emitters, research nonetheless shows some increase in the amount of emissions being produced.

The Second National Communication on Climate Change to the UNFCCC, submitted to the UNFCCC in 2011, revealed an increase in carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide between 2000 and 2005.

"Carbon dioxide emissions increased consistently from 9,531 Gg in 2000 to 13,956 Gg in 2005, apart from a slight dip in 2004. There was a similar trend for methane emissions, which rose from 31.1 Gg in 2000 to 42.9 Gg in 2005," the report said, adding that nitrous oxide had also increased, albeit "in smaller quantities".

target for renewables

Now, according to Daley, "by setting a target for renewables in the energy mix, we will automatically be contributing to a reduction in GHG emissions".

"If we think of using hydro or solar, there will be very little, if any, emissions. So the more of that we have as the source of our energy, the less greenhouse gases, over time, we will be emitting," he noted.

"But, to be on the safe side, we want to set a target that, even if our GHG emissions increase marginally, when we look at the overall level of GHG as compared to what it would be if we did nothing, we would be way ahead still," he added.

NREL's work, Daley said, should be completed by July and Jamaica's INDCs finalised and submitted soon thereafter.

So far, Switzerland and the European Union have communicated their INDCs, which have been shared on the UNFCCC's website.

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