REGIONAL renewable energy associations need to collaborate if they are to effectively tap into international financing for alternative energy sources, the use of which are seen as critical in the fight against global warming.
So says Dr Alston Stoddard, project manager for the Caribbean Renewable Energy Capacity Support Project, who said this will be key to allowing for the diffusion of affordable renewable energy products throughout the region.
"We need to understand that as a region, we have to start thinking of bundling our projects. And when we bundle our projects together, we get a better opportunity and there is a better possibility of accessing resources through the finance market," he said.
Stoddard was speaking at the opening of the 'Caribbean Regional Workshop for Capacity Building on the Development of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions in relation to Climate Change' workshop on September 25.
Organised by the Latin American Energy Organisation and the United Nation's Environment Programme's Risoe Centre on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development, the three-day workshop was held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston. It was supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining; and the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.
"We recognise that there is a need for capacity building and awareness and also the need for financing... We do not have the funding. Over the last years, we have been promoting innovation in the region. Our progress would suggest that we have made significant strides," said Stoddard.
"[However] financing [continues to be a problem] because the financial institutions are not yet available to the requests that were made by our project developers, and the region does not have the resources to fund many of the projects," he added, insisting that the Caribbean needs to invest in renewables, such as solar, wind and hydro, in order to reduce consumption of oil which is helping to fuel global warming.
Global warming is one feature of climate change to which the Caribbean is counted among the world's most vulnerable. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change impacts include, among other things, rising sea levels and more frequent and/or more extreme weather events such as hurricanes and droughts.
Stoddard said that it is only through networking and supporting each other that the dream to improve the Caribbean's renewable energy markets can be realised.
"It is incumbent on us, as a region, to explore all possibilities whereby we can support those persons [who] have benefitted and who have been developing [renewable energy] projects over the years," he said. "We need to support them. We need to look at all the possibilities. It is only right that we benefit from whatever opportunities there are."
Minister of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill agreed.
"An honest look at the [international] climate change negotiations thus far shows that the negotiations are currently at a cross roads," the minister said.
To head in the right direction, Pickersgill added, the Caribbean will need to pool its resources to prompt increased assistance from international bodies.
"Jamaica intends to take mitigation action by 2020... We will require international support. Our main focus will have to be on energy efficiency, renewable energy and land-use changes, especially forestry. These will be Jamaica's appropriate mitigation actions," he said.
"My ultimate aim as minister is to make Jamaica a [climate] resilient society. To do this successfully, we must work in collaboration with our regional partners and other nations by developing and implementing various policies and projects aimed at mitigation and resilience," Pickersgill added.