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Opening Remarks by Chairman the Hon. Phillip Paulwell,  Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining At the Fifty-fourth Special Meeting of COTED,  4 February, 2015   Georgetown, Guyana

Posted in: Speeches by admin | 05 February 2015 | Release Ref #: 18/2015 | 3690

    Hon. Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining At the Fifty-fourth Special Meeting of COTED
    Hon. Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining At the Fifty-fourth Special Meeting of COTED

    These meetings are being held even as world oil prices, having plummeted in the recent months, despite modest gains continue to hover at below US$50 per barrel. While this fortuitous development provides some temporary respite to those of us who are almost totally dependent on this source of imported energy, we must remain resolute in our efforts to diversify, conserve and exploit our abundant supply of clean, renewable, environmentally-friendly resources.

    So as we strategize and seek common ground to address our energy security with less dependence on oil, our actions must not be seen as being paradoxical. The plans that we conceive   and the actions that we take are in our enlightened interests and in support of the achievement of sustainable development going forward.

    Indeed, any analysis of the numerous sustainable energy development activities already under way within CARICOM will reveal that we have much to commend our efforts.   

    At the turn of the century, our vulnerability to the wild fluctuation of oil prices as well as the increased realization that as developing island states, climate change matters and that global warming is for real and is a direct threat to our very existence. Individually, we have implemented a number of projects and many of us have moved even further and developed national energy policies comprising detailed programmes and ambitious implementation schedules.

    It was in 2004 that the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme (CREDP) was established and today it has become the keystone of sustainable energy initiatives in the Region. Since its inception, CREDP has served as an important catalyst for advancing renewable energy in CARICOM.  Arising from the CREDP project and other regional level initiatives a number of important products have been fashioned in support of the harnessing and development of renewable energy.

    However, although sustainable energy solutions have made great strides in our region, many significant gaps and barriers remain. In the coming decades, these barriers to renewable energy access, energy efficiency, and reliable grid development and deployment must be overcome.

    Through a cohesive regional effort coordinated and fully supported by each of us member states of CARICOM, I am confident that we will achieve our objectives.

    While we recognize that the full transformation of CARICOM’s energy sector will be a long-term process, we must remain focused on the priority areas which represent urgent needs and present opportunities for rapid progress. We share the view that if implemented, the  policies, projects and initiatives  that we are developing, will result in effective and efficient sustainable energy development, making our region a global leader in the production and use of clean, renewable, sustainable energy.

    In adopting a CARICOM Energy Policy, our committed to the meaningful achievement of renewable energy targets is demonstrably clear. The various studies and consultations that have guided the establishment of the regional energy policy indicate that a great deal of work remains to be done. We must now give momentum to the process of translating our ambitious commitments into tangible action at the regional and national level.

    In this regard, the establishment of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREE), which was endorsed by the 39th COTED in November 2014 in most welcome and we must now proceed with those details which will ensure its effective and harmonious operations.

    We also welcome the resolution by the World Bank WB to work within the CCREEE framework in support of our efforts.

    As well, has been the agreed position that CARICOM Energy Unit/hub would remain as the platform in the context of the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap (C-SERMS). C-SERMS is being developed as regional level sustainable energy planning, management and implementation framework and we are confident that it will effectively drive our approach to sustainable energy development in CARICOM. This can best be achieved through facilitating the region to establish targets over short, medium and long term horizons and to develop strategies to achieve these targets based on national plans as well as collective approaches, while ensuring dynamic participation of all Member States and stakeholders.   

    Of note is the renewed focus on C-SERMS to address the piece-meal and stop-start approach approach to sustainable energy development, which has been taken in the Region over the last 4 decades. The commitment to the use of evidenced based, targeted, strategic and engaging approach is most welcome  

     Given the broad scope and scale of the implementation, the CARICOM Secretariat has indicated its willingness to work with multi-lateral institutions and other international Development Partners for its full implementation.

    Going forward, we must dispel any notion of insularity, real or perceived. We welcome initiatives such as the PetroCaribe Arrangement as well as the US Government’s support for the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative and the recent initiative to push for greater co-ordination to achieve energy security for the region. And while we embrace multilateral initiatives, we must continue with alacrity to advance the regional agenda and invigorate the symbiotic relationship that binds us together as a community. 

    The call by many donors, potential donors and investors for us to reform to our approach to the development of our energy resources must be heeded. Together we must identify tangible steps that as partners we can undertake in order to attract investments support of sustainable energy projects.

    These deliberations must emphasize our commitment to make the energy sector more efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly, while unleashing the tremendous energy potential of our region.

    The comprehensive agenda, the quality resource persons that inform these deliberations as well as the level of participation that these meetings have attracted auger well for the success of these deliberations. 5