Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Earth Today | Going for 100 per cent clean energy

Published:Thursday | September 6, 2018 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor/Contributing Editor
Professor Anthony Chen

THE UNIVERSITY of West Indies' Physics Department, in its ongoing effort to raise climate-change awareness and promote resilience, will today host a forum titled '100% Clean: The Why and How of Jamaica's Transition from Imported Fossil Fuels to Natural Resources'.

The forum, which kicks off at 5:30 pm, will feature expert panelists, among them celebrated physicist Professor Anthony Chen.

The event is being hosted as part of 350.org's global #GetInvolved effort to build a grass-roots climate movement that can hold leaders accountable to science and justice in the context of a changing climate that could compromise entire economies and derail development prospects for, in particular, small-island developing states (SIDS), who are among the most vulnerable.

Among the climate impacts facing SIDS, such as Jamaica, are rising sea levels and the associated negative implications for agriculture and fisheries; increased global temperatures and the implications for the prevalence of diseases, including dengue; and extreme weather events, the likes of which devastated sections of the Caribbean during the last hurricane season.

Meanwhile, as 350.org tells it, they use "online campaigns, grass-roots organisations and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects that take money out of companies that are heating up the planet and build 100 per cent clean energy solutions that work for all".

 

Critical and timely

 

Chen, who has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his climate research work, believes today's forum is critical and timely, given what is at stake.

For the professor, renewable energy holds the key to effectively combating climate change through a reduction and, ultimately, the elimination of the emission of greenhouse gases associated with the consumption of fossil fuels, including coal, oil and gas.

"Firstly, it is important to transition to solar and wind since these sources now provide electricity cheaper than or as cheap as gas, depending on the circumstances. The cost of energy storage is falling, and in the future, solar and wind, plus storage, will be able to provide the bulk of our electricity demand. We must be prepared to grasp the opportunity and not spend time catching up," he told The Gleaner.

"Secondly, the world has to transition away from fossil fuel to successfully combat climate change. Adaptation alone cannot combat climate change; only mitigation of greenhouse gases can. All countries of the world have to make the transition, including Jamaica, whose carbon footprint is not insignificant," Chen added.