Fri | Oct 20, 2017

CARICOM spotlights energy: Citizens urged to support efforts

Published:Thursday | November 10, 2016 | 12:00 AMBY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR
The painting by Candice Henry of Trinidad and Tobago, which placed second in CARICOM Energy Week art and photo competition last year.
Dr Devon Gardner
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THE CARIBBEAN Community (CARICOM) Secretariat is this month drawing public attention to the energy realities of the region while helping individuals to identify how to better conserve while cutting costs.

They are doing it through a slew of activities, all of which are being celebrated as part of CARICOM Energy Month and under the theme "Sustainable Energy for Sustainable Development".

"There are really two main things we are trying to do. One is to really build awareness among the general citizenry around energy matters so people understand what energy conservation means and what are some of the things they can do to take better control of their energy system," said Dr Devon Gardner, programme Manager for Energy at the CARICOM secretariat.

"The second thing is for them to really understand the energy situation in the region and what is being done on the macro scale to provide the right-size solutions that can be used to support the sustainable development of the countries of CARICOM," he added.

To make that happen, among other things, there are three knowledge webinars planned on the subject, all of which target the regional public and a number of key stakeholders.

There are, too, a number of competitions one of them a photo and art competition and another a regional news reporting competition intended to get people thinking through energy issues as they affect them and the likely solutions.

According to Gardner, the observation of CARICOM Energy Month which also takes account of national-level activities, including kilo walk events set for, for example, Guyana and St Lucia is important. And this, at a time when CARICOM countries are collectively using some 13,000 Btu of energy to produce one US dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) compared to 4,000 Btu of energy used by Japan, for example, to produce the same one US dollar of GDP and the global average of 10,000 Btu.

"We live in an age where there is great participation in energy; energy investments and energy solutions are no longer top down. Thirty years ago, the utility made the decisions about what kind of power plants to use, determined how to deliver the energy and a person took what was provided. If you did not have it, you simply waited for the utility to give it to you, which is why you heard of rural electricity programmes and so on," Gardner noted.

"We are in an age now where technology has changed; there a lot of options available for or small, individualised power generation systems as well as energy services that can be provided directly and in a cost-effective ways, such as solar water heaters. There is also greater awareness of people around what is possible though they might not know what those solutions are. It is incumbent on us to give them the options," he added.

"It is a part of good governance, it is a part of what modern society requires," Gardner said further.

Critically, he said information and exchanges this month will afford Caribbean stakeholders the chance to shape their climate future.

"Over the last twenty years or so, the whole issue climate protection and of sustainable development practice has risen to the fore on the global agenda. There is recognition that the climate fight can be impacted by an aggregation of climate actions at the micro level," he said.

"The role of each individual in being able to fight or mitigate various climate effects has drive a lot of what energy month wants to provide, which is that each individual, in their own space, can do something, which when aggregated with the global efforts, is part of significant tool," he added.

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