CDB calls for greater effort to transition sustainable energy for the region
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has stressed the need for significant investments, technical assistance to build capacity and an overarching framework among the tools needed to guide the process, if Caribbean countries are to make successful transitions to sustainable energy.
Highlighting the barriers as well as opportunities the region faces during a panel discussion at the 28th Annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) currently underway in Dubai, representatives of the regional bank said that despite ambitious commitments to scale renewable energy, the progress in deploying technologies and enhancing the resilience of energy systems in the Caribbean continues to be limited.
Joseph Williams, coordinator of CDB’s sustainable energy unit, said that while governments have demonstrated high commitment, progress in renewable energy penetration regionally has been averaging some 12 per cent, despite a 2030 target of 55 per cent.
“We recognise that there is quite a big gap and a great need for the current framework to be strengthened and so we have stepped into that space significantly. There are issues around ensuring that projects are delivered safely and reliably. Our focus is on trying to ensure that the appropriate framework is in place and the right funding is available that will attract and facilitate the investments,” he said.
Pointing to a myriad of opportunities that abound as it relates to the availability of renewable energy resources to supply domestic demand and economic transformation through harnessing options, the CDB singled out a number of issues, from which it said island states continue to grapple and at varying degrees. Some of these it said includes: higher costs and limited financial options, inadequate and oftentimes aged infrastructure, climate vulnerability, weak government fiscal positions that constrains fiscal projects, weak environments for investments, limited equity financing instruments, and stark gender imbalance in the energy sector. All of which brings significant challenges for the region.
With over US$83.4 billion committed by countries in attendance at COP28 so far, global leaders have refreshed their commitments to unlocking crucial funding as they accelerate ambitious climate action.
Among those in support for the urgent call to action are major international financial institutions which have also made new commitments to offer climate-resilient debt clauses in their lending. The clauses will allow debt service to be paused to provide breathing space when countries are hit by climate catastrophe. Outside of the aim to boost resilience and recovery efforts for affected countries, the instruments are also critical in the context of rising debts and to address loss and damage issues.
Grenada’s Minister of Climate Resilience, the Environment & Renewable Energy, Kerryne James, in noting his country’s own commitment to transitioning its energy sector to 40 per cent renewable energy by 2025, acknowledged the need for help by many countries as he also welcomed the latest declarations at COP28 as promising.
“At times, I feel we focus too much on the technical and the financial aspects of projects. What I believe would help us is if there is more support for capacity development, technical training to help us create a strategic road map that is appropriate for each country’s situation — which could be unique,” he said during the panel discussion.
Executive director of climate finance at Global Affairs Canada, Andrew Hurst, in noting an upcoming initiative to be done in collaboration with the CDB, said that plans are now afoot to develop an umbrella sustainable energy programme to assist countries in the region.
“Under the initiative countries will have access to loan financing and technical assistance for projects that will reduce emissions, increase access to affordable and reliable energy, and reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels. The programme should come on stream in 2024,” he disclosed.