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IBD gives Jamaica pat on the back

BY KIMONE THOMPSON Associate editor — features thompsonk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, June 24, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The Inter-American Bank yesterday commended Jamaica for steps taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the one hand and implementing strategies to help the island cope with the threats posed by climate change on the other.

Greenhouse gas emissions contain excessive amounts of carbon dioxide and are the main culprits in the phenomenon scientists say is causing the Earth's temperature to rise to unprecedented levels and experience more intense weather events on a more frequent basis.

Small Island Developing States, like Jamaica, are particularly prone given their size and location in the sea and have been doing various things to reduce their risk and adapt to the changes.

In that regard, the IDB's climate senior specialist in the climate change and sustainability division, Gerard Alleng, said Jamaica was outpacing others in the region.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer at the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) Partnership Forum at the Montego Bay Convention Centre yesterday, he said it was encouraging, too, that mitigation and adaptation programmes were being initiated by government and the private sector alike.

"There is a high preponderance of climate change projects in Jamaica when compared to other Caribbean countries," said Alleng .

He referenced hydro electricity projects operated by the government through the Jamaica Public Service; rainwater harvesting projects at the community level such as the one recently commissioned in Giblatore, St Catherine; solar water heating systems which are being increasingly featured in housing developments; Wigton Windfarm in Manchester; and the recent unveiling of a 1.6MW solar energy system at Grand Palladium Resort in Hanover.

"From my perspective, that's big because we've been trying to really promote renewables and efficiency and it will take time. But what is huge about that is that it's not government; it's private sector and it's ok because in the climate world you need private sector to be involved, so if they give you something that's 1.6MW, take it and run with it," said Alleng in reference to the Palladium project.

"You look throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and Jamaica is one of the countries that has a number of programmes on adaptation. It is one of the countries that has a project from the Adaptation Fund and that has projects under the Global Change Alliance Proramme, so there are things that are happening," continued.

And it is instructive, the climate specialist said, that the initiatives are anchored in government policy as per the national development goals and the national energy policy.

"It's good to compare yourself with other countries if there are things to be compared with. You have targets for renewable energy, you have an energy efficient fund that businesses can apply to. Some countries don't have that, so it's a matter of perspective," he said.

He conceded that there was still considerable work to be done in the area, but said it ought not to devalue the gains that have already been made.

"Sure, you must not be satisfied with where you are; you must be striving ahead, but don't devalue what you've done and how far you've reached. You still have a long way to go but you're not at zero level.

"You are trying to get to critical mass. It may not come now, but you're further ahead than other countries," said Alleng.

The IDB is co-hosting the partnership forum with CIF.

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