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Cleaner fuels confab today

Monday, February 03, 2014    

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JAMAICA is to host a two-day regional workshop on cleaner fuels at the Knutsford Court Hotel, starting today, February 3.

Dubbed the Cleaner Fuels and More Efficient Vehicles Conference for the Caribbean, the event was initiated by the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) and the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI), and is organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the FIA Foundation and the Caricom Secretariat.

The main objectives of the conference, according to member of the board of trustees of the FIA Foundation Earl Jarrett, are to "strengthen vehicle emission and fuel quality standards; as well as, to promote fuel economy to support a more fuel-efficient auto fleet in the Caribbean."

"It is critical that countries, such as Jamaica; and others in the Caribbean region, tackle the risks posed by the continued use of fossil fuels and uninhibited vehicle emissions that can have a negative impact on our people and the environment," said Jarrett, who is also chairman of the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) and general manager of Jamaica National Building Society.

He will moderate the first day's session at the conference and make a presentation on the second day under the subject 'Fuel Economy in the Caribbean: A Consumer Perspective'.

The broad targets of the conference are to sensitise policymakers in the region about the importance of cleaner fuels and, educate motorists about the fact that more efficient vehicles can improve air quality and urban health, as well as improve climate and environmental protection. It will also aim to provide a better understanding of the potential gains from improving the efficiency of the Caribbean's future car fleet.

Sheila Watson, director of environment at FIA Foundation, and executive secretary of the GFEI, said the conference forms part of the GFEI's activities to support the development of a global policy framework to promote vehicle fuel efficiency and FIA Foundation's environment and sustainable mobility agenda.

"The Global Fuel Economy Initiative has just published our Annual Report 2014, which shows that the world is still not on target

to achieve the fuel economy improvements which are needed, particularly in non-OECD countries such as those here in the Caribbean," she explained.

"Not only is this a huge threat to the environment and to energy security, it is also a massive financial missed opportunity of around $2 trillion globally by 2050... The GFEI is working to raise awareness about and provide information and research around fuel economy, while supporting national and regional policy making efforts," Watson continued.

UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner has said: "Air pollution linked with dirty fuels and vehicles needlessly claims the lives and compromises the health of millions of people day in and day out."

He emphasised that a great deal has already been achieved by the PCFV partnership and "it is now time to scale up and accelerate the action underway by deploying the readily available technologies and implementing the policies that can improve the lives and the future for people everywhere".

The two-day conference will serve as an initial step in engaging countries in further discussions and cooperation at the national level to create national action plans on the implementation of cleaner fuels and more efficient vehicles.

If successful, this meeting and subsequent follow-up activities should promote the reduction of sulphur levels in fuels with an ultimate goal of 50 ppm or below and mandate the use of cleaner, more efficient, vehicles in the region.

Participants will include stakeholders in national environmental and standards organisations from several Caribbean countries, representatives from UNEP, and the Jamaican ministries of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change; and Science, Technology, Energy and Mining.

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