Jamaica welcomes energy partnership with US
Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister Phillip Paulwell on Thursday welcomed what he described as a symbolic partnership with the United States and other stakeholders, following the signing of memoranda of understanding (MOUs), which are aimed at creating better energy alternatives for Jamaica.
The MOUs represent cooperation between the respective parties to promote the development of broadband-based information and communications technologies in Jamaica, along with cooperation on clean-energy activities.
Speaking at the ceremony, which took place at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica's (PCJ) auditorium in New Kingston, Paulwell said that the signing of the MOUs was a sign of great things to come.
"Both activities are critical to sustainable development and growth of our country. Each represents what we, in Jamaica, regard as a gift that keeps on giving. The agreements must not be judged on their material value alone but their qualitative value and the tremendous contribution that they can make to the development of our human resources and the impact that they can have on our environment and equally valuable resource," he said.
According to the minister, energy represents the lifeblood of every modern economy and Jamaica is almost totally dependent on imported petroleum as a primary source of energy.
"We must import over 90 per cent of our demand and pay it in scarce foreign exchange," Paulwell said.
He argued that this not only works against the country's economic performance, but negatively impacts Jamaica's energy security. In addition, he said, as an island state, Jamaica must be mindful of the environmental consequences of heavy dependence on fossil fuels, including erratic weather patterns, rising sea levels and the other negative manifestations of pollution and global warming.
INCREASING ACCESS TO ENERGY
The new United States ambassador to Jamaica, Luis Moreno, also said that the partnership was indicative of an effort which would ensure that all Jamaicans have universal access to reliable and affordable technology and energy.
"As important as access to information is, without access to energy, very little else is possible," Moreno said.
"Jamaica has some of the highest energy costs in the hemisphere and over 90 per cent of electricity here is generated by burning imported fossil fuels. At the same time, Jamaica faces serious threats from global climate change," he said.
"Today's agreement will help combat all three challenges. Energy costs, energy security and carbon emissions can all be addressed by developing a domestic base of clean and renewable energy that does not contribute to global climate change," Moreno said.