If only we could act as energetically as we talk...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014    

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ONLY time will tell whether Germany meets its target of a green economy by the year 2050. What we expect, though, is that it will. For the Germans have demonstrated a penchant for discipline, efficiency, and scientific research which they have utilised to improve their well-being.

It is not by chance, then, that they have been developing renewable energy systems for more than 20 years. In fact, to guide this activity they have passed legislation in the form of the German Renewable Energy Act which took effect in 2000.

But a key element of Germany’s drive towards a green economy, Ambassador to Jamaica Josef Beck tells us, is the support of approximately 80 per cent of the German population.

That, we believe, makes the State’s job much easier, for programmes aimed at meeting the objective are more readily accepted and can be smoothly implemented in such circumstances.

In this newspaper’s report on that issue last week, Ambassador Beck pointed out that Germany, based on its experience and the fact that it is on the cutting-edge of technology, is equipped to help other countries in the area of renewable energy.

Those are not merely idle words. Last week, the Associated Press reported that Germany has pledged US$6.8 million to help Caribbean nations reduce their dependence on petroleum through the use of solar, wind, and hydropower projects.

The money, we were told, will be made available through a regional renewable energy and efficiency assistance programme.

Most significantly, that US$6.8 million forms part of approximately US$22 million donated by Germany to help boost the Caribbean’s renewable energy sector over the past 10 years.

Last year, Berlin played a major role in helping to deliver to Jamaica a Sustainable Energy Roadmap that, as Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell noted at the presentation, will “enable Jamaica to map, in more precise ways, the additional electricity-generation capacity that we seek”.

Add to that the Climate Risk Adaptation and Insurance in the Caribbean project, which was launched last October with Jamaica International Insurance Company, and you get the picture of a developed nation trying to assist a partner developing country as best it can.

To be fair to the local authorities, a number of initiatives have been implemented in recent years to reduce Jamaica’s use of petroleum. However, the actions have not kept pace with the talk.

We wonder, for instance, how advanced Jamaica would now be in the area of alternative energy had we acted, instead of talked, after the oil crisis of the 1970s when petroleum prices escalated and the economies of most countries experienced stagnation.

We had a similar experience in 2008 when the price of oil started to spiral again, but instead of moving with purpose to reduce our dependence on petroleum, we sat back, comfortable with the PetroCaribe arrangement, and made a few cosmetic adjustments that have still left us at the mercy of oil-producing nations.

The fact, though, is that Jamaica is blessed with a lot of the resources that can be utilised to generate alternative energy. What we need is for the authorities to do more and talk less on this most important issue.

Our European Union partners are showing that it can be done. We need to emulate them.





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