Wed | Feb 26, 2020

Beware your infrastructure investments - IPCC chair

Published:Thursday | December 22, 2016 | 12:16 AMBY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR
Chair of the IPCC Dr Hoesung Lee (right) in conversation with Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (left) and Jonathan Lyn, head of communications and media relations for the IPCC. The occasion was the November 30 launch event for the IPCC's recent visit to the island.

CHAIRMAN OF the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Dr Hoesung Lee has cautioned countries against infrastructure investments that could undermine their climate change response efforts over the medium to long term.
“I want to emphasise that it is important, as countries invest in infrastructure, which they will do regardless of climate change, that they don’t lock in high-carbon solutions that put the stabilisation of climate change out of reach,” Lee warned.
The IPCC is the international body that assesses the science related to climate change. The chairman’s own research work looks at the economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development.
“Today’s decision on infrastructure development will have a long-lasting impact on what we do in 20 or 30 years from now. Today’s decision on infrastructure will determine what sort of climate we will have now and in the future,” Lee added.
He was in the island recently, as part of an IPCC outreach event organised by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Panos Caribbean, the University of the West Indies, and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.
His comments come even as there are reports that a 1,000-megawatt coal-fired electricity plant forms a part of the plans of Chinese firm Jiuguan Iron and Steel to support the operations of their ALPART acquisition earlier this year.
Government has yet to officially confirm the reports. However, members of the local environmental sector and scientific community have not been quiet.
"It is a disastrous decision. I reviewed the National Energy Policy (2009-2030), which called for five per cent of the energy mix to be coal and also called for a reduction in GHG. A 1,000-megawatt coal plant exceeds our entire generating capacity now so that would be a significant increase in greenhouse gases," head of the Jamaica Environment Trust told The Gleaner in August.
Such a move, she added at the time, would also impair Jamaica’s ability to meet its target as entailed in its current intended nationally determined contributions to GHG reductions.
“It is [also] abandoning the Caribbean delegation that tried so hard to get commitments for a 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature increase and all of this money spent on climate change," McCaulay noted.
Professor Anthony Chen — one of the island’s celebrated scientists — also came out against any plans for such a plant.
"We have a generating capacity of between 600 and 800 megawatts islandwide, so that (1,000-megawatt plant) would double it. Even more than that, coal emits more carbon dioxide than oil — about 1.3 times more," noted Chen.
"That plant would more than double our present carbon emissions. Our INDCs would make very little sense,” he also told The Gleaner in August.
Jamaica, through its INDCs — additional work on which is to be done — promised to reduce its emissions by the equivalent of some 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030.