Fri 25th Dec 2015

Christmas message from Mr Ivan O’Neal, Leader of SVG Green Party

Moving towards a low carbon economy

A few weeks ago, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21, was held in Paris, France. It was the 21st annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The agreement calls for zero net man-made greenhouse gas emissions to be reached during the second half of the 21st century to limit global warming. In the adopted version of the Paris Agreement, the parties will also "pursue efforts to" limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial levels. The 1.5 °C goal will require zero emissions sometime between 2030 and 2050, according to some scientists.

As we draw near the end of the year, SVG should look to set goals in 2016 to limit its greenhouse gas emissions and play its part in the global fight against climate change. SVG should be moving towards a low carbon economy.

In order to move towards a low carbon economy, SVG needs to invest in renewable energy and move away from oil-produced electricity. Our country is blessed with natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain and tides.

Creating small, Vincentian-owned renewable energy companies, will help increase the amount of local entrepreneurs and also create jobs for our people. As these new renewable energy companies are Vincentian-owned, it will increase the amount of money circulating in our country and significantly reduce the amount of money we lose when buying oil.

Small, Vincentian-owned renewable energy companies will bring prosperity to Vincentians and make electricity cheaper and affordable. At present, thousands of poor households have no electricity. The technology for solar panels is not complex and it would be simple to vastly increase the amount of electricity produced from solar panels in SVG and provide cheaper electricity to poor households.

During the five years from the end of 2004 through 2009, the worldwide renewable energy capacity grew at rates of 10–60 percent annually. Grid-connected photovoltaics increased the fastest of all renewables technologies, with a 60 percent annual average growth rate for the five-year period.

The Philippines’ government pledged a 70 per cent reduction in carbon emissions as part of its 2030 agenda commitment. This is in addition to a previous commitment to country-wide electrification. With more than 7,100 islands, of which many are remote and sparsely inhabited, delivering on these commitments comes with challenges, but it is a big step in the right direction.

SVG could learn from the Philippines example. At present, it seems as if SVG is going in the opposite direction to the COP 21 Paris agreement under the ULP regime. This is bad for our environment and bad for our economy too. For 2016, SVG needs a new direction – a low carbon economy.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all.

Ivan O’Neal BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA
Leader of SVG Green Party

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