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April 2009

ISSN 2070-4593

Project to save Caribbean islands gets UK funding NOAA and CCCC team up on early warning system Renewable Energy Applications in the Caribbean Are thrift shops helping the environment? Saving energy means saving money


The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a global advertising campaign seeking to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The campaign is based on the argument that the best form of insurance we can give to our children is to reduce greenhouse gases within the next 10 years by doing 12 simple things to reduce our carbon footprint. 1

Turn it off: Turn off lights, televisions, videos, stereos and computers when not in use - they can use 10 to 40% of the power when on standby. Also, unplug chargers as soon as they have finished charging.

2

Be exact: Fill the kettle with only as much water as you need.

3

Close it: Don’t leave fridge doors open for longer than necessary.

4

Check your tires: Properly inflated tires can improve your car’s fuel efficiency.

5

Use no plastic: Use cloth bags when going shopping and avoid buying products which use too much plastic.

6

Fan up: Instead of using air conditioners in the summer, wear cool clothes, and use a fan.

7

Drive less: Do your weekly errands in a single trip or pay your bills online. Walk, bike, ride the bus or carpool.

8

Optimize your speed: You will consume up to 25% less fuel if you drive no more than 90 km/hr.

9

Drive hybrid: A hybrid or other fuel-efficient car emits less carbon dioxide.

10

Replace them: Replace your incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). CFLs cost 3 to 5 times as much but use less than a third of the power. Also, replace old fridge and other appliances with energy-efficient ones.

11

Watch what you eat: Choose food produced close to your home.

12

Recycle: Consume less, and re-use old products.


In this issue of Earth Conscious, we feature some breathtaking photos of Photographer Mark Pegus, mainly shot in his native country of Trinidad and Tobago. Mark describes himself as an amateur photographer since he has only been shooting photos over the last few years. But judging the response from some members of the Being Earth Conscious Facebook Group – all we can say is, you’re not far away from turning professional! You can contact Mark at markpegus@hotmail.com

Editor: Linda Hutchinson-Jafar

CONTENTS 3 From the Editor

Contributors: Dr. Indra Haraksingh Esther Saavedra Wesley Gibbings Barbara King Garfield King Mark Pegus

4 Renewable energy applications in the Caribbean 6 Young Voices 8 Caribbean journalism and the climate change debate

Design and layout: Karibgraphics Ltd.

9 President Obama begins to deliver

is published by: Caribbean PR Agency #268 Harold Fraser Circular, Valsayn, Trinidad and Tobago, W.I. T/F: (868) 645-0368 caribbeanpragency@gmail.com www.beingearthconscious.com  2009. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.

January 2009

April 2009

ISSN 2070-4593

12 Verbatim Mr. Conrad Enill Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Trinidad & Tobago 14 Second-hand clothing makes a comeback 17 Profiles Environmental education for communities BPTT 21 Climate change - svae the planet from capitalism 18 Caribbean Updates 24 Global Watch 28 Green living Saving energy means saving money Driving with children 30 Upcoming events 32 Letters to the Editor

ON OUR COVER A view of Maracas Bay, Trinidad, taken by Mark Pegus.

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From the Editor The world is indeed a global village! The credit crunch crisis which originated in the United States has thrown global markets in turmoil, leaving some countries in the throes of recession and many more in a state of depression. Caribbean countries are already reeling from the grave effects of the global crisis which has left the important tourism sector in a slump; industry is sending home workers while governments are faced with reduced revenues. With the world facing severe economic and financial problems, a question that has been asked is at what price this will have on countries in pursuit of a healthy environment. The global crisis already seems to be putting pressure on EU commitments as their politicians are now asking developing countries to produce plans on how they plan to cut emissions before handing over funds. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he plans to remind leaders of the G20 developed world when he meets with them in April in the UK of the need to fulfill their promises to the most vulnerable people and for their stimulus packages to be “green” in order to help combat climate change by including investments in clean energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Perhaps, noting that the issue of climate change could face less importance as countries focus on their economic recovery plans, the Commission of Experts of the President of the UNGA on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System to UN member States has made a number of recommendations in this regard. In the preamble of the recommendations, the Commission recognizes that reform of the international system must have as its goal the better functioning of the world economic system for the global good. This entails simultaneously pursuing long term objectives, such as the responsible use of natural resources and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Commission notes that protecting the world against the threat of climate change must be an overarching priority. On immediate measures and the need for new additional funding for developing countries, the Commission warns that failure to maintain the levels of official assistance will impair the sense of global social solidarity, thereby “making agreement on key global issues, such as responding to the challenges of climate change, more difficult.” An International Labour Organization (ILO) study, “The Financial and Economic Crisis: A Decent Work Response,” in examining current rescue efforts in 32 countries, notes that demographic projections suggest that nearly 90 million net new jobs would be needed over 2009-2010 to absorb new entrants in the labor market and avoid a prolonged jobs gap. The study calls for enhanced cooperation among key international organizations and a reprioritization between these goals, to among others, pave the way for a green economy and enhance the Green Jobs agenda, considering that green technologies tend to be more job-rich than their carbon-intensive counterparts. Rather than adopting protectionist measures, the authors argue that reorienting industries towards greener technologies can support their long-run viability and underscore the importance of synergies between investments in clean technologies and job creation. The April 17-19 Fifth Summit of the Americas taking place in Trinidad and Tobago involving the 34 democratically-elected leaders in the western hemisphere will also look at the issue of environmental sustainability. We have reprinted part of the draft declaration that deals with environmental sustainability and the objectives that the Summit wants to achieve in this regard.

Linda Hutchinson-Jafar 3


Re n ewa b l e E n e rg y Ap l i c at i o n s in the Caribbean

By Dr. Indra Haraksingh Department of Physics, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago

The Caribbean region has a modest history of renewable energy applications although work started since the 1970’s. Most of the islands are net importers of petroleum based products for domestic use, with some islands importing as much as ninety percent of its energy requirements. Fuel prices throughout the region, except for Trinidad and Tobago, are phenomenal. Given the high insolation levels in this region, the Caribbean is ideally suited to implementation of renewable energy technologies. Trinidad and Tobago is unique in the region given its wealth in hydrocarbon resources. But it for exactly this reason that this country is suited to successful implementation of renewable energy technologies. It has the advantage over the other islands of having the resources for the capital investment in renewables, which is the main reason the less affluent countries cannot easily invest in these technologies. 4

A

part from Barbados, which has a very successful solar water heater programme, most of the islands have not come close to realizing their potential for renewable energy applications. With the advent of the Caribbean Renewable Energy Programme (CREDP) in 2004 emerged a greater consciousness about renewable technologies throughout

the region. This paper explores the different renewable energy technologies which are appropriate for and which are implemented in some of the islands of the Caribbean, and investigates possibilities for future applications. Energy solutions for developing countries in an era of climate change must incorporate renewable energy technologies.

Activities in the Caribbean The Caribbean region’s dependence on imported fossil fuel is alarming and is a source of serious concern for energy security in the region.

Jamaica has been importing about 90 % of its energy needs as

fossil fuels. Although it has made significant progress in development of its renewable energy resources, it still is far from achieving its potential. Jamaica completed installation of its 20.7 MW windfarm of 23 NEG Micon wind turbines since 2004 and is currently negotiating a second windfarm of approximately the same rating. They are also expanding the country’s solar thermal output of solar water heating systems in order to achieve a significantly greater penetration into the domestic and commercial markets.


Dominica depends on imported oil for energy up to 75 % at a

cost of almost 30 million US dollars at 2007 rates. Oil imports use about 9 % of the GDP. Approximately 54 % of its earnings from the export of merchandise are used to purchase oil. Dominica’s national goal is to reduce oil dependence to 50 % of the present day requirements by 2020. Dominica is actively pursuing development of their geothermal energy resources.

Guadeloupe operates wind farms of over 18 MW total capacity. In addition, the geothermal plant built in Bouillante contributes about 8 % of the electricity consumed in Guadeloupe. Future plans include using Dominica’s high geothermal potential to contribute to Guadeloupe’s and Martinique’s growing electricity demands.

St. Lucia announced in 1999 its intention to become a Sustainable Energy Demonstration Country. Although the island is making strides towards this, they are still largely dependent on imported fossil fuel. In the Electricity sector, they have recognized that the largest benefit of wind energy is the avoided cost of energy imports. Government will support the establishment of a wind energy park on the East coast of the island that will initially have a capacity of 12 megawatts with a maximum capacity of 30 megawatts. In 2004, Government entered into an agreement with a foreign concern for the exploration and generation of geothermal electricity in the Soufrière area. To date, there has been no progress. The Government plans to take all steps to expedite the process of making geothermal a reality and further reducing the country’s dependence on oil. There are also plans to develop their hydro-electric potential of 200-300 KW and mini hydro-electric technology for the farming sector. Plans are also established for a number of small pilot photovoltaic projects in various parts of the island. Some of these will be interconnected to the main electricity grid, demonstrating the feasibility of net-metering whereby the excess power can be sold to the electricity company.

Renewable energy implementation has seen many ups and downs in Guyana; it has been as insecure as the entire energy situation in the country. LPGs represent seventy to eighty percent of the total energy consumption, the rest being represented by firewood, charcoal, biomass, biodiesel, wind, solar and biogas. The pig industry largely sustained the biogas industry in the past. A few of these still operate in coastal communities. Guyana has a small solar electrification programme for unserved areas in the hinterland. In recent times, attention has been focused on wind energy development. Guyana has embarked on a 12 MW windfarm project, which hopefully will be under construction in the near future. Guyana has a hydropower potential of 7000 MW by virtue of its many large rivers. In recent times, there has been a proposal on Caribbean power integration using Guyana’s hydro-electricity. The project entails design and construction of a dam and hydro power plant with a capacity of up to 1100 MW on the Mazaruni river. The plan is to deliver power to Brazil and the Caribbean region via a High Voltage Direct Current transmission system, both overland and undersea. This project would also have the advantages of significant carbon credit sales, lower price power and much needed development of Guyana’s natural resources.

Grenada has made provision for

revision of its Electricity Supply Act (ESA) to include renewable energy technologies. The Government is currently exploring possibilities of reducing expenses for electricity by employing photovoltaics in schools, police stations and health centres. A local company is providing grid-connect PV systems with net metering to private and commercial customers. The Government has also sought external assistance in wind site monitoring in an effort to harness wind power to supplement their electricity supply.

Trinidad and Tobago will continue to focus on natural gas be-

in the Caribbean with three major companies manufacturing solar water heaters (SWHs) for the domestic and international markets. This country also has the second highest penetration of SWHs in the world, with close to 40,000 heaters installed in a population of 270,000 people.

cause of the country’s wealth in hydrocarbon reserves. However, the country has noted that this is not infinite and is actually shifting some focus on to renewables. Small solar thermal projects are already in progress and plans are in place for the development of a photovoltaics manufacturing industry. In order to stimulate development of its renewable energy potentials, the Government has set up a Renewable Energy Committee to further investigate possibilities and formulate policies which will guide future development.

St. Vincent currently has three hydroelectricity plants in oper-

Conclusion

Barbados has the most vibrant solar water heater programme

ation providing 20 % of the island’s electricity needs. The utility company, VINLEC, is currently undertaking upgrading of existing plants and feasibility studies for new sites.

Guyana has been exploring different RE technologies depending

on location within the country and available resources. It is the only English speaking country in South America and is divided into four ecological zones: i. the coastal belt ii. the sand and clay belt iii. the forest hinterland iv. the interior Savannahs

The Caribbean region is confronted with numerous challenges in the energy sector. High fuel prices dominate the region, except for Trinidad and Tobago. However, the level of consciousness about renewable energy applications is rapidly increasing. The Caribbean Renewable Energy Programme has been a catalyst for change in the movement towards expansion of RE technologies in the region. CREDP has also been a source for funding for RE projects and for capacity building, which is much needed in the region. Energy efficiency and energy conservation will be the major thrust of the CREEDP/GTZ in the comingyears. The University of the West Indies is also engaging in further research and training in Renewable Energy to satisfy the growing needs of the region.

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Young Voices How Adults Should Protect the Environment By Alexandra Meredith, Age 9, New Zealand

I think adults should protect the environment by not cutting down trees because trees give us oxygen and we get shade from them and birds live in trees. Also forests will become bare if we cut down too many trees, and the animals will die. There could be landslides and flooding. Trees make the world a beautiful place. I also think adults should teach children not to litter. Usually there are signs at local beaches saying to pick up your litter. You shouldn’t litter because if you litter the streams the rubbish will go out to sea. It’s bad for wildlife, for example turtles think plastic bags are jellyfish and they try to swallow them and choke. Litter makes tourist feel negative about your country. Adults should always recycle used products so they can be reused. In New Zealand we recycle glass bottles, tins, cardboard, paper and plastic by putting them in bins for collection by the Council. This is very important to reduce the amount of waste in the rubbish dumps. Plastic stays in the dumps for a very long time as it takes thousands of years to biodegrade. We should use less paper and plastic bags and reuse them as much as possible. When we recycle paper we don’t have to cut down as many trees and we help to save the environment.

The Environment By Mikhail Gibbings Age 13, Trinidad and Tobago

This is the environment. This is the dying landscape we inhabit. Over the years it has lost much of its illustrious beauty and you the adults have watched it slowly fade away before your very eyes. Since you know when it was more beautiful than it is today I know that no one would like to see it get worse and become a desolate wasteland built upon grime and garbage with not a tree or animal in sight and with the ozone layer severely weakened or non existent in most parts of the world. But with your help we can make it better than it is now and with the maximum response maybe even make it better than it was before. So now after reading this you probably are thinking: “What do you want me to do about it”. Firstly let’s look at prevention. By agreeing with the above statement you have already completed the first step of this plan. You are now aware. Next do not burn garbage especially objects that become toxic when burned such as tyres or plastics. The smoke from the burnt product can severely damage your lungs or those of the ones around in addition to that it destroys the ozone layer which in turn lets dangerous UV rays that can lead to skin cancer and various other ailments. Now you have a few ideas on how you can prevent lets look on a few cures. Plant a tree. Trees release oxygen and absorb harmful carbon dioxide during the day. So by planting a tree you have basically just provided the world with a natural air filter. Hold a community pick up day in which you and as many members of your community as possible walk around and pick up as many pieces of garbage. Try to make it into a competition by having a prize for the person for the person who collects the most this will make the job seem less like work and more like a game which would encourage more persons to participate. 6


icati n u m m o C

r children

w it h y o g n u

By Jordan Jafar Age 8, Trinidad & Tobago It is really difficult for children to understand the science linking poor respect for the environment to extreme changes in the environment that are impacting on the weather, water, agriculture, just to name a few. It may even be a tougher job for parents to try explaining to us what climate change is or global warming or what the ozone layer is and how it protects Planet Earth from the harmful rays of the sun! I don’t understand a lot of it but that’s not quite important yet. In time, I will be able to make the connections. What is important is that I do what I can – along with children around to world – in reducing harm to our environment. Hey parents, maybe you can begin by casually talking about the environment with your children. Perhaps during a walk, explain how plants and trees are important for the clean air we breathe. It also helps to watch programmes on the television about the environment and National Geographic Channel has some really cool shows on the Planet Earth. There are also simple books about environmental issues which you can read to young children. Good environmental practices by adults with simple explanation also help them to understand how a healthy environment can be sustained. A good example is explaining to them how much water is lost when they take long showers – most time being spent playing with toys in the water - or recycling items that would normally go into the garbage bin. Gradually, as they grow, you will begin to see them also joining in your efforts to help save the environment.

What is Global Warming? Global warming is something that is happening to the climate of the Earth. The average temperature is rising around the world. Why? It’s because of the greenhouse effect. How does the greenhouse effect increase the temperature? Have you ever been in a greenhouse? Even on a cold day, it’s warm inside. That’s because the glass lets in heat from the sun but doesn’t let it out again. The Earth is a bit like a big greenhouse. It is surrounded by a layer of gases—our atmosphere. Some of these gases are called greenhouse gases, because they do what the glass in a greenhouse does. First, they let in the sun’s rays. When the rays get to the ground, some are absorbed as heat. More heat bounces off the land and water and heads back toward outer space. But if it runs into a greenhouse gas on the way, the heat is trapped. It can’t escape into space, so it stays in the atmosphere and warms up the planet. The greenhouse effect is natural for the Earth, and it’s a very good thing for us. Greenhouse gases are like a blanket that keeps the planet warm. Without the greenhouse effect, the Earth would be much colder than it is now— so cold that the oceans would freeze and we couldn’t live here. But here’s the thing. Greenhouse gases—especially carbon dioxide—are increasing in the atmosphere because of pollution caused by people. Our “blanket” is getting thicker. The planet is heating up, just like you would if you piled a thick layer of blankets on your bed. You can kick the blankets off if you get too hot. The Earth can’t—and that’s the problem. Taken from National Wildlife Federation’s Climate Classroom

UNEP organizing 2009 Tunza International Youth Conference on the Environment The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the UNEP National Committee for the Republic of Korea, will be hosting the 2009 Tunza International Youth Conference on the Environment in Daejeon, Republic of Korea, from 21-26 August 2009. The main theme of the conference is “Climate Change – Our Challenge.” 7


Car ibb e a n J o u r n a l i s m a n d t h e

Climate Change Debate By Wesley Gibbings

The phenomenon of climate change, including its associated disputes and debates, is arguably the defining journalistic subject of our time. It is certainly one of the most compelling and far-reaching stories of the 21st Century. For journalists of small island developing states it is even more starkly related to the daily news agenda than is often readily recognised. Hurricanes, floods, drought expressed in terms of water shortages and disease-bearing vectors are stories that engage journalists on a more regular basis than in the past. The ability or inability of local and national authorities, the private sector and communities to mitigate and to adapt to growing associated threats is often at the centre of public policy discourse and contention.

It might be said that climate variability and climate change present an overwhelming challenge to the longterm viability of our civilisation and are therefore “survival issues” in the context of those aspects of journalism that shape and define the development process.

The processes and developments associated with climate change are also as multi-faceted as they are difficult to engage – both as science and as journalistic challenge. Their major characteristics span the full spectrum of public affairs and ought to be of concern to reporters with varied professional interests. It is as pertinent to the finance and business reporter as it is to the labour and politics journalist. In many respects, though, the Caribbean media are yet to come to meaningful grips with climate variability and climate change as over-riding elements of life in this part of the world. Flooding stories of the wet season are not viewed as having roots in what prevails in the dry season. Connections between changing rainfall patterns and inappropriate development agendas are missed and remain under-reported at best. By not prevailing upon singular events the broader context of climate, media audiences are deprived of life-changing opportunities while the depth of collective foresight is limited by fragmented, episodic accounts of short-term distress. For reasons such as these, public awareness and public education are perhaps the single most important interventions required in the process of adapting to the impacts of climate variability and climate change. 8

Additionally, important public and private institutions in the region appear not to have recognised important and defining roles for themselves. The Caribbean insurance industry, for example, projects an image of hapless, unsuspecting victim and not of informed, proactive agent of adaptation. Planning agencies also display an acute lack of awareness of the connection between infrastructural development and vulnerability. Watershed and watercourse management in our small island eco-systems is rarely linked to coastal threats and coastal construction projects betray a systemic failure to recognise imminent sea level rise. It has not helped that our media have not always pointed to the broader context of climate variability and change while confusion regarding the use of language to describe the phenomenon has arisen. For example, the use of “global warming”, as an overarching theme, is being rejected by many in North America and Europe who have recently experienced colder winters. That climate “variability” more appropriately captures the experience has not been effectively projected by experts regularly quoted in the media. It might also be true that short-term variations in weather patterns do not automatically signify the longer-term antecedents readily associated with climate. But even if what is being currently recognised as changes in weather patterns is not really climate change, their impacts on the Caribbean are sufficient to generate real concern. The Climate Change Handbook for Caribbean Journalists, produced by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, in collaboration with the Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM), is an attempt to shed some light where considerable darkness currently resides in the Caribbean media. The handbook, made available to most major newsrooms in the English-speaking Caribbean since 2005, attempts to clarify areas of doubt, identify sources of immediate and long-term concern and examine existing strategies being designed by the region to adapt to the prospect of climate change. It provides practical direction on matters of language, central concepts and possible story angles. The climate change story is also, importantly, not a politically neutral public affairs matter. State initiated and/or state supported projects in several territories have at different times generated considerable political heat. The “cost” of development is often cited as one Caribbean populations are required, as a matter of course, to bear. Journalists as “mediators” in the debates need to be far better informed than is currently the case. Anything less would signify a virtual dereliction of duty.


“. . . the long-term threat of climate change, which, if left unchecked, could result in violent conflict, terrible storms, shrinking coastlines, and irreversible catastrophe...”

U.S President Barack Obama continues to receive support from a wide cross-section of groups for two major decisions aimed at establishing a safer and greener environment. He has given directive to the U.S EPA to review the previous denial of a waiver request by California to set its own standards for the regulation of vehicle emissions and for the Department of Transportation to establish higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for carmakers’ 2011 model year. The following is a sampling of reactions to his directives: National Wildlife Federation - “Today’s decision provides the kind of sound direction the auto industry needs to once again lead and build the kind of cars not only America needs, but the world needs. Our energy policies will no longer be based on denial and delay but instead on sound science that tells us we don’t have to choose among efficient vehicles, jobs and a healthy environment. With these new standards and President Obama’s proposed new green investments, we can advance cutting-edge technology that will restore America’s place as a world leader in the auto industry, save consumers money, and reduce our global warming pollution. Earthjustice - “President Obama’s directive is a much welcome move toward an energy efficient economy, with cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. We’re very pleased the President took this immediate step toward allowing California and other states to set stronger standards. We’re on our way to producing more jobs and a cleaner environment, during a time where restoring both the economy and the environment are crucial to this country.”

United Nations Environment Programme - “Just days after taking office, US President Barack Obama has appointed a climate envoy and cleared the way for new rules to force automakers to produce cleaner cars. The President signed papers aimed to prod the struggling US auto industry to design new fuel-efficient vehicles. His Administration is also considering whether to allow California to regulate car emissions, which are blamed for contributing to global warming. The move could prompt 18 states to put in place tougher emission limits than federal standards over coming months.” Natural Resources Defense Council - “What a thrilling moment to have our new president put his vision into action for a cleaner and safer environment. President Obama’s announcement is a big step in fulfilling his campaign promises for a clean energy economy that will move America beyond oil, create new jobs and reduce global warming pollution. This is a strong signal to the world that America is ready to quickly step forward as a leader in the fight against global warming.” Environmental Defense Fund - President Barack Obama signed two executive orders that could be remembered as the critical turning point toward achieving real energy independence and stopping global warming. . . The President’s powerful statement affirming his commitment to moving aggressively to cut global warming emissions and unleash America’s clean energy future laid out clear goals for action in the coming weeks and months.

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Draft Declaration of Commitment ‘Securing Our Citizens’ Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability’ We reprint the aspect of the draft declaration which relates to environmental sustainability Promoting Environmental Sustainability 39. All social and economic development depends on the conservation and protection of the environment. We, therefore, reaffirm our strong commitment to sustainable development, as set out in the World Summits on Sustainable Development in Rio in 1992 and Johannesburg in 2002, the Declaration of Santa Cruz de la Sierra of 1996, the Declaration of Santa Cruz +10 of 2006, and the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. 40. We commit to take the necessary steps to ensure the eventual stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will not incur a risk of serious changes in the Earth’s climate and weather systems. 41. We will strengthen our mechanisms for the sharing of early warning information on natural disasters, for disaster planning and preparedness, and for managing and coordinating response and relief programmes following a disaster. 42. We instruct Ministers and High Level Authorities responsible for Sustainable Development, in collaboration with the specialised national and regional disaster organizations, to develop, by 2011, a cooperation system within the Americas through which they can collaborate, share information, develop models of good practice, and ascertain which areas of human settlement and sections of essential industrial and transport infrastructure are at risk, and to then ensure that they are either protected or relocated. 43. We will introduce stronger planning and zoning measures to ensure that any future residential, commercial or industrial developments are not located in vulnerable areas, and we will facilitate better access to education, training, land, credit, and housing to ensure that poor people are not trapped in vulnerable areas by the fear of losing their livelihoods. 44. We will also work towards promoting sound environmental governance by strengthening national environmental laws and building institutional capacity to manage environmental resources in accordance with our sustainable development priorities. 45. We also support further dialogue and cooperation under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the commitments on long-term cooperative action established in Montreal in 2005 and in the Bali Road Map of 2008, and commit to work towards a global agreement at the UNFCCC Meeting in Copenhagen in 2009. 46. We renew our support for the Inter-American Programme for Sustainable Development (IAPSD) and instruct the Ministers and all other authorities responsible for sustainable development to gather in 2010, under the auspices of the OAS, in collaboration with the PAHO and the international financial and development institutions concerned with sustainable development, and with the participation of the academic community and civil society, to assess the achievements of the Programme to date, and to propose, where appropriate, new goals for a renewed IAPSD, with a particular focus on the integrated management of both domestic and shared water resources, prevention and mitigation of disasters, forest and fisheries management, sustainable agricultural management and rural development, ecosystem and biodiversity protection, natural resources management, urban environmental management and the treatment of hazardous wastes. We will give special attention to the most vulnerable areas, including low-lying coastal regions and small island developing states. 47. We also direct the Ministers and all other authorities responsible for sustainable development, in conjunction with the World Bank and the IDB, working under the auspices of the OAS, to undertake a comprehensive review of the potential impacts of climate change for all the nations of the Americas by 2011, and to formulate national Plans of Action for the management and mitigation of these impacts, with special attention to the needs of people likely to be displaced or to lose their livelihoods. We further instruct that each of these national reviews be used to inform the development of a Regional Strategy for the Management of Climate Change Impacts, to be formulated jointly by the World Bank and the IDB by 2013.

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Verbatim portation, industry, manufacturing, commercial, and residential. A macroeconomic model of the energy supply/demand matrix for Trinidad and Tobago needs to be developed and there is need to identify a priority list of renewable energy projects which can feasibly be undertaken in the short, medium and long term. Appropriate targets and time frames for the development of renewable energy projects will be required to achieve meaningful implementation of these projects. Trinidad and Tobago has been fortunate In order to increase our renewable resources in the ento be endowed with vast reserves of oil ergy mix, the government will need to determine the level of inand gas, which have been the mainstay centives (tax relief, infrastructure support, grants, subsidies, etc.) of our economy over the last century and required to promote the use of renewable energy technologies in continues to be today. Indeed, Trinidad each sector. and Tobago have benefited tremendous In order to advance the implementation of RE technololy from the fortunes of both oil and gas, gies in Trinidad and Tobago, there will be the need to identify opwhich has been a critical element in our portunities for Research and Development. industrial growth and development in our Financing Renewable Energy projects by local and inter2020 vision goal of achieving developnational agencies can be enhanced through access to the Clean mental status. Development Mechanism (or CDM), and Over 1600 MW carbon trading in the international arena. It is anticipated that renewable of power is generated from approximately It is interesting that the Dominican Repub280 MMscf/d of natural gas. This daily gen- energy technologies will play an lic is now the third country in the region erating capacity of power is used to service increasing role in reducing the and seventh in the world to take part in the the industrial, commercial and residential usage of fossil fuel and by exten- CDM. needs within Trinidad and Tobago. For RE development to progress in this One may ask the question why the sion mitigate the climate change country, new legislation and regulations will need for renewable energy development in phenomenon globally. In the conbe necessary for the exploitation, developa country like ours - a net exporter of petro- text of the local economy, renewment and use of renewable energy. There leum related products and where electricity will also be the need to initiate dialogue and able energy development is beproduced from combined cycle generation establish linkages among public and private using natural gas makes it the least expen- ing given increasing attention as sectors and international companies that sive in the Caribbean. it provides an opportunity for this are currently engaged in various sources of While we have been endowed with country to increase the diversifi- RE development. these resources which we have developed A renewable energy policy document over a hundred (100) year period, today cation of its energy mix and with (Green Paper) would be prepared for review marks a very auspicious and memorable continued development, could by the REC and presented to the public and day in the history of the energy sector of ultimately replace a proportion of all stakeholders for comments/criticisms and Trinidad and Tobago, as we are gathered recommendations for moving forward in this the country’s energy needs from here to officially launch the Renewable Enrelatively new area of activity in this ergy initiative under the leadership of the fossil fuels. country. Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries Finally, the Committee would be re(MEEI). sponsible for developing a public education campaign to sensitise The REC is expected to set the groundwork and guide the country about the gradual introduction of RE into the national our path forward to continuously increase the energy mix between energy mix. RE developments and fossil fuel usage. This implies that as more It is anticipated that renewable energy technologies will and more electricity and other fuels are extracted from various play an increasing role in reducing the usage of fossil fuel and by sources of RE, the utilization of energy from oil and gas will deextension mitigate the climate change phenomenon globally. In the crease. This feat will not be accomplished overnight; rather it will context of the local economy, renewable energy development is take many years to achieve these goals. being given increasing attention as it provides an opportunity for The REC’s first step towards achieving this goal would this country to increase the diversification of its energy mix and be the formulation of a Renewable Energy Policy Green Paper with continued development, could ultimately replace a proportion and promotion of Renewable Energy development in Trinidad and of the country’s energy needs from fossil fuels. Such displaced fuel Tobago. could be exported to earn foreign exchange. The broad tasks assigned to this Committee include the Our national sustainable development objectives demand conduct of a current state assessment of RE applications and rethe optimal utilization of our valuable petroleum resources. Issues search activities in Trinidad and Tobago involving photovoltaics, with respect to energy efficiency and conservation must therefore solar thermal energy, wind energy, wave energy, and biofuels. be underscored in the thrust to move forward. In this regard, reBased on studies done to date as well as the collection and analynewable energy provides us with an opportunity to complement sis of new data, technical and economic assessments of RE techour valuable petroleum resources through creating a more diversinologies will be performed by using appropriate criteria relevant to fied energy portfolio. this country. In the future, more energy in the form of electricity and In so doing, feasible and practical renewable energy transportation fuels will be generated from various sources of RE technologies will be identified in various sectors including trans-

Abbreviated speech by Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Mr. Conrad Enill at the official Launch of the Renewable Energy Committee.

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in geothermal energy applications. There can also be an inextricable link between the development of indigenous renewable energy resources and the issue of energy security. This relationship is somewhat defined by the socio-economic and geopolitical circumstances of countries. To our Caribbean neighbours, the question of energy security was heavily influenced by the economic realities these countries faced in the recent past when oil prices reached its highest level ever. Despite the assistance provided by Trinidad and Tobago the growth and development of these economies became under serious threat. By contrast, for the U.S.A, the question of energy security may be more influenced by the risk involved in dependence on oil and gas products from foreign sources which that country considers “unreliable or unfriendly”.

Mark Pegus

thereby increasing the ratio of energy derived from RE sources to that of energy gained from fossil fuels. In so doing, Carbon Dioxide emissions would be reduced thus mitigating the impact on climate change and global warming. Renewable energy development also has the potential for significant tangible value added to the domestic economy. This is through creation of new investment opportunities, new horizons in research and development, new linkages with the rest of the economy and income and employment generation through the development of RE manufacturing activity in the country. It is generally agreed that Renewable Energy may not yet be cost competitive with energy derived from traditional fossil fuels and consequently, need incentives. This however is relative to the existing price levels of oil and gas based energy products. Moreover the opportunity cost in terms of the environment is often ignored. It is also true that the gap between the two forms of energy has been narrowing over the years. Solar energy today is 90% cheaper than it was in the 1970s while wind energy, now produced at 9–11US cents/KWh, has been reducing constantly to reach affordability with the cost of electricity derived from natural gas, which in Trinidad and Tobago averages 4 US cents/KWh. Trinidad and Tobago has limited experience in the renewable energy arena. In fact apart from some small scale experimentation projects by TSTT and TTEC in photovoltaics and wind the only significant project thus far in which there has been active participation by a number of stakeholders has been a demonstration solar water-heating project. This involved five host-homes in Trinidad and five in Tobago. It was sponsored by the Ministry, BPTT, THA and the TDC and managed by the UNDP. Even with such limited experience we have been able to learn some important lessons. Planning is essential and this requires that there be collaboration among all stakeholders. Although the technology has been tried and tested, training, maintenance, choice of RE equipment and certification of suppliers are critical success factors. The potential for the development of a photovoltaics industry was another initiative in which the Ministry was involved. This project was undertaken jointly among the UTT, BPTT, T&TEC and other private and public sector stakeholders. It was found that there were very bright prospects for the development of a photovoltaics industry in Trinidad and Tobago. As we seek to develop our renewable energy resources in Trinidad and Tobago it is important that we draw from the experiences of our regional neighbours. I am aware that programmes such as the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme (CREDP), has been very active over the years in removing the barriers to the adoption of renewable energy and facilitating its development regionally and it is my hope that such initiatives would continue in the future. There is much room for growth and development in the region. Currently, hydropower is perhaps is most significant renewable energy application, with Suriname and Belize leading the way; in the latter country it accounts for about 40% of electricity production. Guyana also has significant potential in this area and it is anticipated that 70 – 80 percent of that country’s electricity needs would be supplied by that source by 2012. Cuba and Jamaica leads in wind energy development; but major plans are apace in the Dominican Republic where, in March 2008, licences were awarded for the construction of three wind parks to produce up to 190Mega Watts. Solar energy is widespread but most development in this area has taken place in Barbados. St Lucia, Dominica and St. Kitts/Nevis are actively involved

Children, 2002

“We call on all members of society to join us in a global movement that will help build a world fit t for children through upholding our commitments to the following principles and objectives… “Protect the Earth for children. We must safeguard our natural environment, with its diversity of life, its beauty and its resources, all of which enhance the quality of life, for present and future generations. We will give every assistance to protect children and minimize the impact of natural disasters and environmental degradation on them.” — A World Fit for Children, 2002, para. 7, section 10, UN General Assembly Special Session on Children, 2002 13


By Esther Saavedra

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A Caribbean native, having lived in Trinidad for all of my life, my first winter in England hit me and it hit me hard. Sure I was properly dressed for the season and bundled up, but my Trinidadian sunshine still flowed in my veins and this was not a pleasant experience.


I was freezing. I remember even grumbling to myself one particularly cold day that there was no such thing as global warming because how can there be when parts of the world can become this cold. But when I see the steps Britain takes to recycle and reuse and minimize its impact on the environment, I understand that even countries who may not directly feel the effects of it, are concerned enough to take action. So I’m going to now share with you the ways I’ve seen everyday citizens do their part to help the environment, what I’ve seen as I make my day to day living in London. The United Kingdom is a treasure chest for vintage items. People actually enjoy that feeling of getting a one of a kind item. Buying from charity shops or thrift stores, believe it or not, plays a part in helping the environment in its own way. Not only do fashion conscious people with different tastes get to score a rare item, buying second hand is also a form of recycling popular here in the U.K. It reduces the amount of items being disposed of and ending up in landfills. According to a recent article on the Sky News website, a mind boggling nine hundred thousand tons of shoes and clothes are thrown away in the U.K each year. The article also states seventy five percent of that ends up in landfills or is burned. The second hand shops ensure that the clothes get a second life and the environment has one less garment, toy or electronic item thrust upon it. The huge numbers of charity shops including those run by Oxfam is testament to the popularity of thrift shopping. Oxfam alone boasts over seven hundred charity shops in the U.K. Others include those run by the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK. Hospices also run charity shops. I myself have purchased a few items from charity shops, glad to get a beautiful item at such a low cost, help the charity and do my part, however small, in saving the environment.

On the subject of shopping, do we most times think about how we carry our purchases? Here in the U.K how you carry them is just as important. Consumers are encouraged to minimize their use of plastic bags. Some supermarket chains, at least the ones I’ve been to, charge for plastic bags. The one I got on my last supermarket outing cost me nine pence and was in itself reusable, with a promise of another one free of charge once it’s worn out. Another supermarket chain’s bags state on the front they are made from fifty percent recycled material. Cotton totes are also highly recommended for stuffing your purchases in instead of grappling with several plastic bags. You have to admit, it’s even more convenient as well as environmentally friendly. And then of course you have your traditional recycling bins. Homes have around two bins, one for recyclable material and the other for non recyclable. There are those who even separate their food waste to reuse as compost material. So wastage is minimal. So as I’ve learnt, recycling here is not something special you do when you can or whenever the mood strikes you. It is a way of life here that once done properly becomes like second nature. I’ve also started seeing the whole idea of saving environment and reusing in one very suitable saying: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

The items are usually in near excellent condition and are sold for a minimal cost. Also falling into this sort of category is swap parties. Basically you get together with friends (or strangers, if advertised), throw some food, drinks and good music in the mix and as the name suggests, swap clothes with each other. Fashionistas finding great clothes at no cost, having a fun get-together and saving the environment in the process. What could be better? It would be great to see these things adopted in Trinidad and Tobago, especially the swap parties. I know I would love to get together with my girlfriends on a Saturday night and have our very own grown up pyjama party. 15


Profiles Environmental Education for Communities BPTT Three years ago, a simple request for environmental education

from a community member in Mayaro inspired the environmental team from BP Trinidad and Tobago (bpTT) to take positive action. The request came at a public consultation for bpTT’s Cannonball project in 2004. A seed was sown in the minds and consciousness of the bpTT Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) team. It was a tremendous challenge. No company in Trinidad and Tobago had ever successfully implemented such an initiative and while it appeared somewhat daunting, the team was intrigued by the challenge. Out of this interface with the community was born bpTT’s novel concept for a Community Environmental Training (CET) programme – one that has been successfully conducted from its inception and won both internal and external awards including a bpTT Chairman’s Award in 2007 for social responsibility and an award in 2008 for corporate social responsibility from the International Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). The programme covers basic and advanced concepts in environmental management as well as the local legal framework for environmental management in Trinidad and Tobago. In the beginning some residents appeared to have a lack of trust in BP and dissatisfaction with social and infrastructural development in their area. The environmental team saw this as an opportunity to further develop relationships through empowering the surrounding Mayaro communities. The aim was to pave the way for community engagement, productive consultations and relationship building for sustainable environmental management. The next step was to introduce the programme in the form of classes and invite residents to participate on a voluntary basis. There were initial concerns surrounding the community’s understanding of and confidence in the programme’s objectives. The HSSE team addressed this with an early meeting with interested participants to discuss and clarify the objectives of the programme. The residents responded in a positive manner and in April 2006, 45 community members committed one afternoon each week for one-year to attend classes. Participants were of varying ages from 16 to 65 years and with a range of literacy levels and socio-economic backgrounds. This allowed for a unique and very diverse class and an extremely healthy and valuable caliber of discussions on social and environmental issues. The environmental team created the concept of the CET programme and also developed the detailed curricular and matched course topics to both external and internal qualified speakers. The intention was to cover as much information as possible that would enhance the community residents’ understanding of oil and gas operations and their role in ensuring responsible social and environmental actions by all companies operating in their community. It also encouraged the community to look at the impacts of the industry and recognize that environmental impact may arise from their own activities, such as subsistence farming and fishing which represent the major forms of employment in the area. Topics covered included, but were not limited to:

• • • • • • •

Nature in balance Ecosystems – food chains and food webs Organisms in the oil and gas environment What’s in the Guayaguayare Bay Understanding your marine environment - ecology Exploration (Finding oil and gas) Application of laws to the environmental impact assessment process

Residents grew to understand and appreciate the synergies between industrial-activity and their daily lives and recognized the possible subsequent negative impacts certain action, or lack of action, could have on the environment. They learnt what appropriate tools could be used to mitigate any potential sustained negative impact to their environment. To make the course as interactive and hands-on as possible the HSSE team included role play and field trips in the course curriculum. enhance their understanding, role plays and field trips were also included during the course of the programme. What added to the success of the programme was the energy and enthusiasm of the environmental team who led the classes. The team, made up of volunteers from the bpTT HSSE team, displayed admirable levels of dedication which allowed the programme to be delivered on a weekly basis. Volunteers often traveled up to six hours to facilitate the classes with the students in Mayaro. Collaboration and commitment from both the students and the volunteer team meant that a year later, 35 residents of the area graduated from the programme. What truly indicated the success of the programme was when the focus of the discussions at public consultations began to change dramatically. There was a stronger community voice on environmental issues that informed project design and implementation. Furthermore, the graduates formed a community based organization and are now recognized by the community as well as other external bodies as ‘environmental technical experts’. A 2007 class was also conducted with 15 graduates successfully completing the programme in November 2008. BPTT has challenged the two groups of graduates to be the environmental stewards for their community and they are currently pursuing registration of an environmental non-governmental organization (E-NGO) for the community. BPTT’s Chairman’s Award program is an annual program designed to recognize individuals and/ or teams who have demonstrated or displayed exemplary efforts in contributions toward supporting BPTT’s aspirations and focus areas. Profile submitted by BPTT 17


Caribbean Updates Abbreviated remarks by Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations at the Opening of the Fifth General Meeting of the United Nations and CARICOM and its Associated Institutions

Preserving natural resources and using them fairly will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the earth’s ecosystems. The development and use of renewable energy and environment-friendly technologies can spark economic growth, create jobs, improve people’s welfare and bring us closer to our sustainable development targets. Ushering in a new green economy must become more of a priority for all.

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We meet at a time of crisis. The world faces serious threats to food and energy security. The impacts of global warming are being felt with ever growing ferocity. The international financial system is in turmoil. These problems pose great challenges for Caribbean countries. Now more than ever we need to step up our cooperation. Many CARICOM countries have long, strong democratic roots that should help guide you through perilous times. Visiting the Caribbean two summers ago, I was struck by the sheer beauty of the islands, and the warmth of the people I met. The region is a justifiably renowned tourist getaway. But these natural assets stand in stark contrast to some of the region’s ills. You know all too well that geopolitical realities leave the region vulnerable to destructive forces. Foremost among these are the traffickers in illicit drugs and small arms who use your countries as a haven. Caught between narcotics producers in the South and consumers in the North, the Caribbean is such a frequent transit point that profits from the illicit drug trade are often bigger than the legal economies of CARICOM countries. With that trade comes violent crime. The Caribbean is reported to have the highest per capita murder rates in the world. Narco-trafficking also seriously threatens the rule of law and democratic governance. We must address this scourge while paying special attention to those who are vulnerable to getting caught in the web of drug crimes. The renewed cooperation between CARICOM and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime will be an important part of this effort. The United Nations is also committed to supporting CARICOM in strengthening human rights institutions and carrying out the provisions of the Charter for Civil Society. Long before climate change became a household term, Caribbean countries were sounding the alarm about global warming. They knew then and you know now that climate change threatens not only their economic viability but even, in some cases, their very existence. Experts are predicting an onslaught of more frequent and more ferocious hurricanes. The tourism industry, which accounts for up to half the gross domestic product of many small island developing States, could be hit hard. Even with the support of the Adaptation Fund, the CARICOM Climate Change Centre predicts that by 2025, the economic cost will average 14 per cent of GDP. Meanwhile, the global financial meltdown is harming economic competitiveness. We must protect the impressive progress that Caribbean countries have made in recent years so that these economies can survive the negative trends engulfing the globe. Toward that end, I welcome your decision to establish a CARICOM Task Force on lessening the effects of the global recession. These crises hold great risks for human well-being. I encourage all of us to focus as well on the opportunities they have opened up. We can address both climate change and the global financial crisis in tandem. Preserving natural resources and using them fairly will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the earth’s ecosystems. The development and use of renewable energy and environment-friendly technologies can spark economic growth, create jobs, improve people’s welfare and bring us closer to our sustainable development targets. Ushering in a new green economy must become more of a priority for all. The link between achieving economic prosperity and preserving ecosystems and natural resources is obvious to all Caribbean countries. For decades, you have been pushing for action on sustainable development. I urge you to press ahead with this campaign not only for your States and your region, but also for the world as a whole. Sir Shridath Ramphal, a great son of the Caribbean with long ties to the United Nations, once pointed out that, “each of us belongs to two countries: our own and the planet.” In that spirit, I wish you a most productive meeting. I commend the collaborative work that CARICOM and its associated institutions are doing with the UN family, and I look forward to strengthening this partnership.


Caribbean Updates UK FUNDING FOR CARIBBEAN CLIMATE CHANGE PROJECT: CARIBBEAN REGION DEPENDS ON TOURISM A project to save Caribbean islands from the impacts of climate change has been given a boost with seed funding of £240,000 from the UK government. The project called CARIBSAVE, led by the University of Oxford and the Caribbean Community Centre for Climate Change, aims to raise US$35 million over the next 3-5 years to tackle the challenges of climate change and its effect on tourism in the Caribbean region. Part of the seed funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) will be spent on a six-month pilot study of two Caribbean destinations, Eleuthera in the Bahamas and Ocho Rios in Jamaica. Eleuthera is famed for its coral reefs and pink sandy beaches; while Ocho Rios attracts visitors keen to experience the island’s lush, verdant scenery and tropical waterfalls. In a matter of weeks, climate change scientists will start monitoring the islands as test cases for the entire region’s tourism industry. By analysing destinational climate models of data collected between 1961 and 2008, the researchers will calculate the islands’ likely climate until 2100. They will predict likely levels of rainfall, wind-speed, the rate of rising sea temperatures and sea levels, as well as the frequency of extreme weather events like hurricanes or monsoons. They will also assess the particular vulnerabilities of each island to physical impacts, such as coral bleaching or beach erosion. The climate science and physical impacts will be linked with socio-economics and other factors such as health, for instance whether rising sea levels could contaminate water supplies, and the increased risks of dengue fever and malaria posed by more frequent flooding. The pilot study will provide a blueprint for climate and adaptation modelling, as well as vulnerability screening that can be rolled out across other tourist destination sites and countries in the Caribbean region. The CARIBSAVE model is designed specifically for the vital tourist sector but will inform wider policy and planning processes in a range of other sectors including energy, agriculture, health, biodiversity and infrastructure. Local people, organisations and governments in the Caribbean are partners in the project and will receive assistance in building up the skills they need to implement the policies for tackling climate change. Another key component of the CARIBSAVE project is to achieve carbon neutral status for the Caribbean so it becomes the first carbon neutral region in the world. Project Director Dr Murray Simpson, from the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University, said: ‘The vision for CARIBSAVE is a long-term and sustained approach to climate change and tourism in the region. The Caribbean is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change and its economies and communities are recognised as the most reliant

on tourism in the world. We have designed an approach that manages a huge range of risks and consequences of climate change. We are looking at how climate change will affect biodiversity, water supplies, the economy, energy, health, infrastructure, livelihoods and disaster management. ‘Hundreds of tropical Caribbean islands attract millions of tourists each year, but the impact of climate change is already starting to affect its fragile ecosystem and endanger the livelihoods of many of the islanders. The highest level of international and regional expertise is being drawn together to form a highly motivated, long-term team that links climate science with the physical, and social and economic impacts of climate change. We are providing practical assistance that can allow this vulnerable part of the world to adapt and survive.’

NOAA AND CCCC TEAM UP ON EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS Efforts are underway through the Washington-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) to extend the installation of Coral Reef Early Warning Systems (CREWs) stations throughout the Caribbean. This would help to build capacity in detecting and responding to early warning signs in climate change. In explaining the importance of these systems, NOAA”s representative Dr Jim Hendee told the second CARICOM Climate Change Conference in Castries, Saint Lucia that “knowing what physical factors influence the environment, while at the same time monitoring the biological changes, helps us to understand which of those physical factors are responsible for the changes.” “You can’t mitigate against change if you don’t know what caused the change,” he said. A Coral Reef Early Warning System is computer software used to help detect warning signs in climate change. It forms part of the Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON), a Web presence which is used to gather data hourly from many networks and satellite monitoring “virtual stations” at coral reef sites around the world. CREWS Stations have been installed in Jamaica, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, St Croix and Puerto Rico and NOAA is committed to the installation of another two in the Cayman Islands and the St Thomas Virgin Islands in the next two years. “It is imperative to install several of these throughout the Caribbean because measuring one site won’t give you the information you need to understand Caribbean-wide changes, just like measuring one copse in a forest won’t lead you to understand forest ecology,” Dr Hendee explained. According to Dr. Hendee, the CREW system has been successfully used in modeling and alerts of coral bleaching conditions in the Florida Keys and the Great Barrier Reef and it is NOAA’s intention to expand this alerting capability to other coral reef areas, and to better refine and enhance its alerting capabilities beyond coral bleaching. 19


Caribbean Updates US CANPLAY A KEY ROLE IN POST-KYOTO PROTOCOL – President Jagdeo Courtesy: Guyana Government Information Agency

Congressman Jay Inslee and President Jagdeo President Bharrat Jagdeo, has given recognition to the priority being placed on climate change by the United States Administration and pointed out the critical role the country can play in helping to shape a successor Agreement to the Kyoto Protocol in time for the December 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference. President Jagdeo was speaking at a forum on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC titled ‘Forest, Finance, People and Climate Change: International Perspectives for U.S Legislators’ which was organized by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Union of Concerned Scientists under the sponsorship of Congressman Jay Inslee of the U.S House of Representatives. While noting that developed countries need to have strong political will and commitment to addressing the climate issue, President Jagdeo also pointed out the role developing countries can play as part of the solution, using forests as a cost effective abatement solution. While speaking of the work Guyana has been doing, he identified Guyana’s position on avoided deforestation, and elaborated the study done with assistance from the Mc. Kinsey consulting group of the US. In December, President Jagdeo made public Guyana’s position on avoided deforestation, at which time he indicated that ‘a more ambitious global agreement is required when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, and this is the agreement that must be reached at Copenhagen…unlike Kyoto, Copenhagen must create proportional incentives for all causes of greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, it is essential that it creates incentives to reduce tropical deforestation’. About a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions is caused by deforestation and although the Kyoto Protocol created one mechanism with small incentives for some countries to reduce deforestation, it excluded countries like Guyana that have maintained their forests in an unspoiled state. This initiated perverse incentives which made it more feasible to tear down forests and then re-grow them than to preserve them in the first place.

SAMPLING IN DOMINICA CONFIRMS GEOTHERMAL RESOURCE

The results of the geochemical survey conducted by West Indies Power (Dominica) Ltd. in the Soufriere region of Dominica, in December 2008, indicate that all of the samples are from geothermal sources. Geothermal Power is energy generated from heat stored 20

in the earth, or the collection of absorbed heat derived from underground. The samples were analyzed at the University of Rochester in the United States. Further analysis was done at the California State University, San Bernadino, USA. The geochemical survey was done to determine if the gases and waters were of geothermal origin or just rainwater that had been heated by the underlying hot rocks. Sampling was done on gases and waters from the geothermal features in the area including Champaign Bay, Sulfur Springs, and other areas. The survey was conducted by geologists, Joe LaFleur, Mike Krahmer, and Makeda Warner, along with West Indies Power (Dominica) Ltd’s field Managers Paul Toulon and Alan Toussaint . Kerry McDonald, CEO of West Indies Power (Dominica), stated: “The results of this sampling scientifically proves that there is a geothermal reservoir underlying the Soufriere area. West Indies Power (Dominica) Ltd. next step is to locate and drill sites so that it can determine the size and quality of the geothermal reservoir here in Soufriere”. The geochemical work will be followed by geophysical work all of which will allow West Indies Power Dominica to pin point the sites where it should drill to confirm and evaluate the geothermal resources in the Soufriere region. West Indies Power (Dominica) Ltd. - is the operating subsidiary of West Indies Power Holding B.V. – with responsibility for the exploration, development and operation of the geothermal resources located on the island of Dominica. In July 2008, the Government of Dominica and West Indies Power (Dominica) Ltd. signed a Geothermal Resources Exploration and Development Agreement.

IDB SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE ENERGY IN THE CARIBBEAN

Barbados, Bahamas and eventually other Caribbean countries will explore cutting-edge alternatives to lower their dependency on fossil fuels and improve their energy security with four grants approved by the Inter-American Development Bank.

For the Bahamas, the IDB approved two technical cooperation grants totaling US$1.45 million to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of the Environment, which oversees the energy sector. The funds will also enable the Bahamas Electricity Company to explore energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives, including solar power, waste to energy and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), a new technique that enables tropical islands to produce both power and desalinated water. The grants will also support ongoing efforts to reform the country’s regulatory, financial and fiscal frameworks in order to achieve a sustainable energy matrix, and to encourage energy efficiency in public, commercial and residential buildings. In Barbados, a $1 million IDB grant will underwrite the development of a Sustainable Energy Framework that will contribute to achieve affordable and sustainable energy and minimize dependency on fossil fuels. It will enable the government to test energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, study bioenergy and solar alternatives and develop regulatory and financial incentives to promote sustainable energy.


Caribbean Updates “These are the first steps towards reducing the foreign oil dependency, increasing energy security and promoting sustainable energy in the energy matrix that the IDB has supported in each of these countries,” said Christiaan Gischler, the IDB project team leader. Finally, a $1 million IDB grant will launch the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Program (CHENACT). This program will finance the adoption of energy saving technologies in the region’s small, medium and large hotels, thereby helping them to reduce one of their largest operating costs. Studies have estimated that hotels in the Caribbean could lower their energy bills by up to 20 percent by investing in efficient lighting, air conditioning and related technologies. “This project will provide essential inputs for understanding the potential for reducing energy consumption and for assessing carbon emission reductions as a prelude to obtaining carbon credits,” said Gischler. “Since 90 percent of the energy matrix in the Caribbean is fossil fuel based, any energy saving translates directly into carbon emission reductions.” This program will also partner with the United Nations Environmental Programme to help hotels phase out the use of ozone-depleting substances in chillers, air conditioners and refrigerators. The program will begin in Barbados, with the goal of replicating its methodology in other Caribbean countries.

WORLD BANK APPROVES ENERGY EFFICIENT PROJECT IN HONDURAS The World Bank Board of Directors has approved a US$30 million interest-free loan to strengthen the energy sector in Honduras. The project’s three components are: building the national electric power company’s (Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica (ENEE)) management and commercial capacity; renewing and rehabilitating distribution equipment, including the removal of polluted transformers; and institutional strengthening and corporate governance. Honduran Finance Minister Rebeca Santos explained that the operation will streamline the Stateowned ENEE and further support new investments in renewable energy. The energy sector is key in achieving the World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy for 2007-2010 and supports the broader goal of the Poverty Reduction Strategy by contributing to accelerated economic development.

Rebeca Santos, Honduran FInance Minister

BRAZIL - AMAZON FOREST MAY GET DRIER, BUT SURVIVE WARMING Amazonian forests may be less vulnerable to dying off from global warming than feared because many projections underestimate rainfall, a study showed. The report, by scientists in Britain, said Brazil and other nations in the region would also have to act to help avert any irreversible drying of the eastern Amazon, the region most at risk from climate change, deforestation and fires. “The rainfall regime in eastern Amazonia is likely to shift over the 21st century in a direction that favors more seasonal forests rather than savannah,” they wrote. Seasonal forests have wet and dry seasons rather than the current rainforest, which is permanently drenched. That shift could favor new species of trees, other plants and animals. The findings contrast with past projections that the Amazon forest could die and be replaced by savannah. A 2007 report by the U.N. Climate Panel, which is a snapshot of global warming science by the world’s leading experts, said: “By mid-century, increases in temperature and associated decreases in soil water are projected to lead to gradual replacement of tropical forest by savannah in eastern Amazonia.” The new study said that almost all of 19 global climate models underestimated rainfall in the world’s biggest tropical forest after the scientists compared the models with observations of 20th century climate. Lowland forests in the Amazon have annual average rainfall of 2,400 mm (94 inches), it said. Projected cuts in rainfall meant the region would still be wet enough to sustain a forest. The experts also examined field studies of how the Amazon might react to drying. It said that seasonal forests would be more resilient to the occasional drought but more vulnerable to fires than the current rainforest. “The fundamental way to minimize the risk of Amazon dieback is to control greenhouse gas emissions globally, particularly from fossil fuel combustion in the developed world and Asia,” said Yadvinder Malhi, the lead author from Oxford University. But he said that governments led by Brazil also needed to manage the forests better. Global warming is “accompanied by an unprecedented intensity of direct pressure on the tropical forests through logging, deforestation, fragmentation, and fire use,” the scientists wrote. And fires, including those touched off by lightning, were more likely to cause wide damage to forests already fragmented by roads or by farmers clearing land to plant crops such as soya beans.

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Caribbean Updates SALAMANDER LOSSES IN MEXICO, GUATEMALA CAUSE WORRY

PREVENTATIVE MEASURES NEEDED TO ADDRESS IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Many salamander species in Mexico and Guatemala have suffered dramatic population declines since the 1970s, driven to the brink probably by a warming climate and other factors, U.S. scientists said. The salamanders’ fate provides the latest evidence of striking losses among the world’s amphibians, a phenomenon some experts see as a harbinger of doom for many types of animals. Biologist David Wake of the University of California Berkeley and colleagues tracked about two dozen species of salamanders at several sites in Guatemala and southern Mexico. They put a special emphasis on the San Marcos region of Guatemala, boasting one of the most thoroughly studied and diverse salamander populations in the tropics. Compared to levels measured in the 1970s, the population of half of the species in the two countries declined markedly. Four species were apparently completely gone and a fifth virtually wiped out, Wake said. The cause is probably a complex combination of factors including climate change -- with warming temperatures forcing salamanders to higher and less hospitable elevations -- as well as habitat destruction and a fungal disease, Wake said. The species that formerly were the most common were the ones hit the hardest, Wake said. Many scientists worry that climate change will have a terrible impact on animal populations, with those in the most sensitive places, like polar bears in the Arctic, hit first. Some experts view today’s amphibians, whose ancestors were the first land vertebrates, as sort of a canary in the coal mine, warning of future disaster for the animal kingdom. “If we are convinced there is something going wrong and these are canaries in the coal mine, what are you going to do about it? This is a problem,” Wake said. “One major avenue is global climate change. That is clearly a factor.” While not included in this study, Wake said similar losses are occurring in salamanders in Costa Rica. A lot of the research into amphibian losses had focused on frogs. This study adds valuable data on salamanders. The various species in this study ranged from about 1.5 inches to 5 inches long. Ground-dwelling salamanders were found to be the hardest hit, as opposed to those living in trees and other types of vegetation.

Latin America and Caribbean nations need to put in place measures to adapt to the economic, social and environmental impact of climate change. The region is one of the most vulnerable in the world, states the document Climate Change and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. A Review, published by ECLAC and presented by the Director of the Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division, Joseluis Samaniego, during the seminar Climate Change: The Challenges for Growth in Chile and Latin America held at the Commission headquarters in Santiago, Chile. Latin America and the Caribbean could suffer more from the effects of climate change than other regions in the world because of its location in a zone of frequent hurricanes with island nations and low coastal areas; its dependence of Andean snow water for urban and rural provision of water; and its vulnerability to floods and forest fires, among others. Given that Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the region are low (11.7% of the world total in the year 2000), national authorities should focus on adapting to climate change. Currently, government response tends to be spontaneous and reactive, and focused mostly on recovery after natural disasters. Preventive adaptation policies should foresee losses going from the primary sector to public finances. Moreover, says ECLAC, given the social inequality and limited funds available in the region, the State should quantify the economic impact of climate change in order to address its consequences, such as droughts, floods, epidemics, heat waves and damages in infrastructure, among others. Developing capabilities of adaptation involves facing challenges such as distributing costs among private (producers and consumers) and public agents; specifying and focalizing measures; and raising awareness among authorities in charge of economic, social and environmental areas that the issue should be addressed comprehensively, in these three dimensions. Advancing in adaptation requires making efforts to protect the structure of public finance, the stability of the private sector and macroeconomic performance. It should also consider adjusting to the changes caused by the response of developed countries to their needs of mitigation in trade and investment. Given the above, countries in the region should consider strategic options that may allow them to advance towards development models low in carbon emissions. ECLAC considers important to draw the attention of economic authorities in the region to the effects of climate change. The better prepared they are, the unexpected pressure on spending and losses in tax revenues will be lower and economic governance greater. Mexico, Brazil, Central America, the Caribbean and South America are already carrying out studies on economy and climate change which will strengthen the regional perspective. This research will provide greater certainty about the national and sectorial magnitude of adaptation costs and the potential gains of mitigation.

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Global Watch MALDIVES AIMS TO BE WORLD’S FIRST CARBON NEUTRAL COUNTRY OBAMA’S ‘GREEN BUDGET’ PROVIDES HOPE FOR ECONOMY & CLIMATE CHANGE

President Mohamed Nasheed has announced the government’s intention to make the Maldives the world’s first carbon neutral country. The President made the announcement after the special screening of the new climate change film, The Age of Stupid. The President said people between 30-40 years now have a different thinking and that they would change the future of the world. Further, the President said with foresight, we could make good progress with regard to environmental issues. Stressing that carbon businesses would increase in the future, President Nasheed said the only way to could avoid the negative consequences of this trade, would be by becoming the world’s first carbon neutral country. The government’s plan is to make the Maldives the world’s first carbon neutral country within the next decade. In this regard, the government has been working with the international climate energy experts to draw up an eco-plan for going carbon neural. A radical shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy production lies at the heart of the eco-plan. By becoming the world’s most eco-friendly country, the Maldives hopes to attract greater number of environmentally conscious tourists.

ADB FUNDS ENERGY EFFICIENCY LIGHTING IN THE PHILIPPINES The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a US$31.1 million loan for an energy-efficiency project in the Philippines that will provide 13 million energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) to homeowners and businesses as part of a government push to save about US$100 million every year in fuel costs, and a deferral of an investment of US$450 million in power generation and associated network capacity. Each CFL is expected to save customers 400 pesos (approximately US$8.50) each year for the next 7 to 10 years. The project will also retrofit government office buildings and public lighting systems with other efficient lighting options and establish an energy service company (ESCO) that will provide financial and technical support to companies planning to reduce energy consumption.

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President Barack Obama’s plan to bailout the U.S economy relies on a carbon cap-and-trade system that includes an 80 billion dollar investment in renewable energy programmes. By forcing heavy polluters to buy credits from companies that pollute less, the programme penalizes companies that emit the most greenhouse gases, while rewarding the country’s “greenest” business enterprises. Speaking to Congress, the US President said that building financial incentives to fight global warming, was the way forward and that economic recovery is inextricably linked to green energy. “To truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy,” Obama told lawmakers. The ‘green budget’ signals a significant US push to slow down climate change.

SATELLITE TO MONITOR GLOBAL GREENHOUSE GASES LAUNCHED SUCCESSFULLY Efforts to tackle global warming received a boost with the successful launch in Japan of a satellite to monitor greenhouse gases from space. The Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite “IBUKI” (or “GOSAT” in its English-language acronym) is the first satellite to observe greenhouse gases and monitor changes in the effects they cause. It was launched from the island of Tanegashima, in southern Japan, by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), a key partner of the United Nations’ regional arm – the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) – in addressing disaster risk reduction and environmental issues. Using a high precision sensor, “IBUKI” can measure from outer space the concentration of greenhouse gases throughout almost the entire surface of the earth, including large regions where data was never collected before. The obtained data will be used to determine the emission, transportation and absorption of these gases with a view to eventually contributing to controlling global warming. Covering every region in the world, the satellite will play a fundamental role in monitoring an increase or decrease of greenhouse gases. After the operations start, the data will be obtained every three days from the observation points and distributed to scientists free of charge.


Global Watch WANGARI MAATHAI CALLS ON ARMIES TO JOIN THE BILLION TREE CAMPAIGN The world’s armies and UN peacekeepers around the globe should join the Billion Tree Campaign as it strives to reach its target of 7 billion trees planted by the end of 2009, according to Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai. Speaking during a UN Environment Programme (UNEP)’s Governing Council meeting, Wangari Maathai, who is the co-patron of the Billion Tree Campaign, appealed to Heads of State around the world. “Imagine all soldiers marching for the planet,” the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate said. “While the armies of the world are waiting to fight an enemy that comes with a gun, we have another enemy, an unseen enemy, an enemy that is destroying our environment,” she added. “The enemy that takes away our topsoil, takes away our waters, destroys our forests, destroys the air we breathe, clears the forest.” “This is the unseen enemy and it cannot be fought with a gun this enemy can be fought with a tree,” Wangari Maathai said. “So you can imagine how wonderful it would be if every soldier on this planet started seeing himself and herself as a soldier for the planet holding a gun on one side and a tree seedling on the other, to fight this unseen enemy which is actually more dangerous to us than the other enemy.” Her words come as a growing number of governments, communities and people around the world join the Billion Tree Campaign. The campaign, which is under the patronage of Wangari Maathai and His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, has now catalyzed the planting of 2.6 billion trees in 165 countries around the world, far exceeding its original target. On 22 February, Peruvian President Alan Garcia Perez personally planted the 40 millionth tree in Lima, concluding the country’s National Tree Campaign of Afforestation and Reforestation. Peru plans to plant another 60 million trees by 2010. So far, the roll of honour of the countries where the biggest number of trees have been planted is headed by Ethiopia (700 million trees), Mexico (470 million trees) and Turkey (400 million trees).

UNWTO CALLS ON TOURISM LEADERS TO JOIN THE GREEN ECONOMY Despite the evolving global recession, there is a real opportunity if world leaders succeed in aligning short term response to the economic meltdown; medium term response to the development agenda and long term response to the climate imperative. The need for global stimulus should be linked with the transformational potential of a green economy. Tourism can reliably boost the economy in the short to medium term, without loosing sight of long-term commitments to the sustainable development agenda. This was the main message delivered by UN-

WTO Assistant Secretary-General Geoffrey Lipman, addressing the European Travel Commission’s Transatlantic Conference. A new climate deal is expected to be reached at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the end of this year. The fundamental intention is to drop green house gas emissions to levels where global warming is tolerable, with clean energy focused consumption and production patterns, and with responsibility and benefits shared equitably by all states. Achieving this will require a whole range of credible policy decisions and concrete measures. These ranges from country and company carbon targets, cap and trade auctions to intelligent biofuel and renewables support, efficient building, smart grid and hybrid vehicle investment, as well as green technology funds, taxes and fiscal incentives.

QATAR: FIRST GULF COUNTRY JOINS WORLD BANKLED EFFORT TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE EMISSIONS FROM GAS FLARING In a ceremony in Doha, the World Bank called on other oil producing countries and companies in the Middle East to join worldwide efforts of reducing the venting or flaring of natural gas, and of increasing energy efficiency to mitigate climate change. Besides Qatar, other GCC states include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE. So far, the only Middle Eastern country that had joined the gas flaring reduction partnership was Iraq. When drilling for crude oil, gas usually comes to the surface as well and is often vented or flared instead of used for private or commercial consumption. The World Bank-led partnership between governments and companies tries to address this problem by working to reduce the environmentally harmful waste of gas. The GGFR partnership estimates that globally some 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas are flared or wasted every year, adding about 400 million tons of greenhouse gases in annual emissions. This is equivalent to almost all the potential yearly emission reductions from projects currently submitted under the Kyoto mechanisms. Gas Flaring in the Middle East and North Africa region is about 45 billion cubic meters, which makes it the second-largest flaring region in the world after Russia and the Caspian (about 60 bcm). Sub-Saharan Africa is the third-largest flaring region (about 35 bcm). The amount of gas flared in the Middle East alone (about 30 bcm) could feed a 20 million ton liquefied natural gas plant.

European Commission Releases Proposals for “Comprehensive Climate Change Agreement in Copenhagen” The European Commission has released a communication entitled “Towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen,” which sets out proposals to achieve the EU’s objective to ensure that global average temperature does not increase more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. It addresses three key challenges: targets by developed countries and appropriate actions by developing countries; the need to address the financing of actions by developing countries (both to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change); and the need to build an effective global carbon market. 25


Global Watch The Commission’s proposals include: an emissions reduction target for developed countries of 30% of 1990 levels by 2020; the limitation by developing countries, except the poorest ones, of the growth in their collective emissions to 15-30% below business as usual levels by 2020; the creation of an Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development-wide carbon market by 2015; and innovative international funding sources based on the polluter pays principle and the ability to pay.

2009 the Year of Climate Change and of Opportunity In an address to UK Parliamentarians, Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, underlined that the need for urgent action on climate change has become “abundantly clear” and that a political solution to the world’s most pressing problem is critical for humanity’s further development as a whole, and especially for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Recognizing that the Poznan climate conference of December 2008 had not been marked by any major political outcomes, he noted that it made progress in a number of specific areas of work, including the adoption of the Poznan Strategic Programme on Technology Transfer and the operationalization of the Adaptation Fund, and fully endorsed an intensified negotiating schedule for 2009. De Boer provided an overview of what needs to be achieved within the coming months for Copenhagen to be a success, namely clarity on: quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives of industrialized countries; nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries; how financial and technological support both for mitigation and adaptation will be generated; and on the institutional framework to deliver support for mitigation and adaptation. Recognizing that the challenges to be tackled in 2009 are “huge,” and noting the difficult context of the financial crisis and economic down-turn, he stated that they also present an opportunity to redirect energy policies towards a greener future. He then outlined a number of recommendations to help the world “to rise to the challenge,” including the need for: industrialized countries to take up their leadership role in climate change abatement; new and additional adaptation funding; assistance to least pay.

a green publication We’re making Earth Conscious magazine available online at several sites. You can view the magazine at: www.beingearthconscious.com www.earthconsciousmag.com www.issuu.com We’re also on Facebook and you can join our Being Earth Conscious group! If you would like a PDF copy of the magazine, please email caribbeanpragency@gmail.com or write us at #268 Harold Fraser Circular, Realspring, Valsayn, Trinidad. January 2009

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ISSN 2070-4593

September 2008

ISSN 2070-4593


The bubble is close to bursting: warnings on water

from

World Economic Forum Report

Agriculture

By 2025, water scarcity could affect annual global crop yield to the equivalent of losing the entire grain crops of India and the US combined (30% of global cereal consumption). Yet, food demand is expected to grow 70-90% by 2050.

Energy

Energy production accounts for about 39% of all water withdrawals in the US and 31% of water withdrawals in the EU. While only 3% is actually consumed, the competition for access to water between energy and other sectors will intensify over the next two decades. Water requirements for energy production are expected to grow by as much as 165% in the US and 130% in the EU. This means water for agriculture will be squeezed at the same time as the demand for agricultural production sharply increases.

Environment

Glaciers act as huge water banks. The glaciers of the Himalayas and Tibet alone feed seven of the world’s greatest rivers, providing water to more than 2 billion people. These glacial banks are disappearing at an accelerating rate. Most analyses suggest the majority of them will disappear by 2100 under current trends. Further, 70 major rivers around the world are close to being totally drained in order to supply water for irrigation systems and reservoirs. Extensive environmental damage is occurring as a result.

Finance and Economics

Within two decades, water will become a mainstream theme for investors; for many, water is already a better “pick” than oil. With good regulation, this will enable much more financing to be mobilized to invest in water infrastructure and technology. With poor regulation, innovative investment funds in water could expand.


Green Living $aving energy means $aving money By Garfield King

Save the planet? What’s it ever done for me? I recently heard someone say that, jokingly of course, but it did get me thinking about the payback for trying to live as if the environment is a partner in my life rather than something that gets in the way. When asked to recycle, save energy, or live green many people will think “what’s in it for me?” The comments I usually hear can be summed up this way, “Where’s the incentive? After all, in this modern world where technology makes it easy for me to do very little and think even less, why should I turn my comfortable lifestyle on its head and worry about stuff that’s not likely to affect me? I mean, climate change and all those trendy issues won’t trouble Planet Earth until long after I have left it.” Well, the effects of climate change and our unbalanced relationship with the environment are already with us. Have you noticed the shift in weather patterns that have affected farmers? Have you or someone you know been affected by the floods that catch us woefully unprepared? Have you heard fishermen warning about the pollution in our rivers and seas threatening marine life? Has your weekend lime ever been spoiled by the reckless disposal of garbage that has turned some beaches and recreation areas into playgrounds for rats and snakes? Officials at the US Centre for Disease Control last year warned that the potential effects of global warming range from an increase in catastrophic weather events like hurricanes and heat waves, to a reduction in the quality of our water and food. Even with all the information about the possible devastating impact climate change may have on the quality of our lives in the years ahead and our future safety, the real incentive for many people to live a greener life is when they realise there’s money to be saved right now. As the mood of economic uncertainty continues to weigh on our shoulders it’s just plain common sense to look for ways to get more out of what you have and for what you spend. Saving energy reduces CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions one of the main greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Saving energy means saving money. How much? Well, that’s up to you and depends on what actions you take. For example, you could save hundreds of dollars a year by switching off. Don’t leave your TV, DVD players, and music centres on standby, switch them off. Instead of charging your cell phone overnight, charge it for a couple of hours. You’ll save money and help reduce the impact of climate change. Giving your fridge-freezer regular care and attention could save you some cool cash and extend the life of the appliance. Regular defrosting (if it’s not frost-free), positioning out of direct sunlight and away from the cooker will make your fridgefreezer more efficient. Vapours from liquids make the fridge work harder, so keep them covered. Clean the door seals and replace them if they’re damaged. The CO2 emissions from your fridge will be reduced and the foods inside will likely stay fresh for longer. This adds up to even more savings. 28

Eating locally grown food is not only a healthy option, but also helps reduce the effects of climate change. Imported produce has to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to get to us. Imagine the fuel and other energy used en route. Locally produced foods require less energy to get to the diner table. Eating local also helps the local economy and that has to be good news for all of us. When you’re at work, look around to see where waste can be reduced. It has been estimated that UK businesses lose up to 4% of annual turnover every year through avoidable waste. Greening your workplace includes reducing waste. The strategy adopted will depend on the nature of the business. It could be simple measures like using both sides of a sheet of paper; printing pages only when essential; energy-saving lighting throughout the building; switching off lights when not required; using ceramic cups instead of plastic or Styrofoam; recycling any non-hazardous material in the manufacturing process. I know in our tiny office at home, my wife and I have been able to save hundreds of dollars a year by using the blank side of printed pages as note pads and printing in draft mode until the final document is ready to print. Also, by repositioning our desks to capture maximum light for more hours of the day and making use of natural ventilation we’ve been able to reduce the electricity bill. Getting more out of what is used is a more efficient model that can lead to increased profits, while saving valuable resources. This adds up to more money in your pocket, less contribution to pollution and wastage and the creation of a healthier environment. Just in case you doubted it, recycling can play a significant role in reducing carbon emissions. According to the Energy Saving Trust in the UK “The amount we recycled in the UK last year saved the same amount of carbon as taking 5 million cars off the road.” Something not often considered to be a tool against climate change is the Clothes Swap Party. A good friend of the family who enjoys shopping (retail therapy) told us she was recently invited to a social gathering. All she had to do was go through her clothes, shoes and accessories and select a few items she’s only used once or twice and not likely to wear again and take them along. At the “party” she met dozens of other women who had done the same. So they simply did a swap. At the end of the evening she had exchanged the items she arrived with and walked out with a two new (to her) outfits. Recycling for the fashion conscious! If you want to save some money by cutting your energy bills, reducing your carbon emissions, recycling or any other earth conscious strategy, you might want to visit the BBC’s climate change Bloom website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bloom/ Also, have a look at National Geographic’s Green Guide for Everyday Living. http://www.thegreenguide.com/ There are endless resources online. They can be a good starting point if you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the mountains of information coming at you from all sides. Some of the tips of course will need to be modified for our use in the Caribbean. Some websites you may want to check for more information on swapping clothes: http://www.swishing.org; http://www. swapstyle.com/ So if all the scientific and ethical arguments are not enough to convince someone you know that dealing with climate change and reducing carbon emissions is good for all of us, you can always point out that being Earth Conscious and saving energy means saving money. Garfield King is an independent radio producer, presenter and writer with almost 30 years broadcast experience.As a trainer, he conducts workshops on public speaking, presentation skills and communication dynamics. inkings@tstt.net.tt


Green Living Driving with children B y B a r b a r a K ing, P a r e n t E d u c ator

Seat belt laws are for our benefit, our protection. Yet despite many years of international seat belt education, there are still many people who refuse to use seat belts. They also allow young children to travel in the front seat of vehicles unharnessed. We have all seen toddlers and little boys driving in the front passenger seat with face pressed up against the dashboard, or standing with face or forehead on the windscreen. My heart leaps when I see fathers, obviously feel-

ing a sense of pride, casually driving along with their boys in this way, oblivious to the danger of the situation. And of course there are the parents who are safely buckled up while their children stand in between the front seats. Even if you feel you are a competent driver who would never endanger the life of your child, can you be that confident of the other drivers on the road or even the road conditions? We owe it to our child to take every possible safety precaution. It is a matter of common sense. Why would whole nations declare it illegal to drive without seatbelts? Surely it is because they are aware that this is an essential safety measure that can prevent senseless loss of life and injury. Clearly people disregard such a simple practice to such an extent that legislation is demanded. Baby on board From the abundance of infant car seats to be seen available in local stores, clearly Trinidadian parents are taking measures to protect their babies in cars. But there is more to car seat safety than just installing one and placing a “Baby on Board” sign on your windscreen. The car seat must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions - that means all. If the seat requires a top anchor make sure it is properly installed according to directions and never use it without that anchor. A loose seat is not a safe seat. If you are buying a used seat be sure to get the instructions too. And be aware that household baby carriers are not designed to protect an infant in a car. All infants should be placed in the back seat. That is the safest area of the car. The baby must be strapped in, reclining and facing backwards, that is, facing the back of the seat of the car. It is awkward and impractical, since the driver cannot see the face of the child, however an appropriately

Buckle up! placed mirror can solve that problem. The front seat is unsafe for infants especially if the car is fitted with airbags. When the child weighs 20 - 40 pounds, the seat can be secured facing forward. When the child has outgrown the car seat, a booster is recommended, but many parents locally seem to forgo that stage and allow the child to ride unharnessed. This is where the trouble begins. The child wants to be in the front seat, to be able to see the road ahead or just to be able to stand between the front seats and talk. Children’s behaviour in cars has been the cause of near misses and minor accidents. The wise parent instills safe travelling habits as early as possible. That starts with having appropriate seat belts properly installed in the rear seats. Road rules Next on the list of safe travelling habits could be: the car does not move until everyone is belted in. A child’s seat belt must be snug over the hip or thighs, not over the belly. A seat belt that crosses the child’s face or neck must be tucked behind the child’s back. There should be one seat belt per person. Do not use one seat belt for two children or a child and adult. Make this a firm rule without exceptions. The car pulls over, as soon as it is convenient, if any belt is unfastened. No exceptions. When you have everyone securely buckled up in the car, be wise about other things you put in the vehicle. Imagine an accident scenario with occupants safely belted in but groceries, stroller, books and toys hurtling around the interior. To avoid this, store movable objects, especially heavy or hard ones, in the trunk. And finally, teach your children about acceptable car behaviour, for example, voices must be kept to a reasonable level, toys must not to be thrown around and any behaviour that might distract or obstruct the driver is out of the question.. Children can also be trained to place litter in a bag to be discarded in garbage bins or at home and of course, as parents, you set the example. You could also, as some parents do, have a no-eating-in-the-car policy to avoid choking incidents (and keep your car much cleaner). When these basic habits are modelled, imparted reasonably and with consistency, children will be cooperative, they want to be safe too. Take the time to teach your family to travel safely. Accidents are not planned or expected, that is their nature, so “take in front”. You can replace a wrecked car, but not a wrecked life. Barbara King is a professional facilitator and parent educator. She is the presenter of Baby Talk on Music Radio 97, conducts parenting talks and workshops for T&T Innovative Parenting Support and Creative Parenting for the New Era and is editor of Parenting Support Newsletter. Email: baking@tstt.net.tt 29


Upcoming Events INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ GLOBAL SUMMIT ON CLIMATE CHANGE: 20 April 2009 - 24 April 2009. Anchorage, Alaska, US. The aims of the conference include bringing indigenous peoples together to talk about common issues and raising the visibility and participation of indigenous peoples in local, national and international processes. THIRTIETH SESSION OF THE IPCC: 21 April 2009 - 23 April 2009. Antalya, Turkey. The 39th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Bureau will convene in Antalya, Turkey, on 20 April 2009, the day before the 30th session of the IPCC opens G8 ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS MEETING: 22 April 2009 - 24 April 2009. Siracusa, Italy. This preparatory meeting will feed its results into the annual summit of the group of most industrialized nations (G8), which will deal with the traditional issues relating to financial stability and macro-economic coordination, with the newer agenda items on development in Africa and in the environment. EXPERT MEETING ON TRADE AND CLIMATE CHANGE: TRADE AND INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES UNDER THE CDM: 27 April 2009 - 29 April 2009. Geneva, Switzerland. At its fifty-fifth session, UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Board approved terms of reference for a single-year expert meeting on trade and climate change. Accordingly, the expert meeting will focus on the trade and investment opportunities and challenges under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). IMPLEMENTATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THE EMERGING MARKETS OF AFRICA, LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN 2009 (REEM09): 27 April 2009 - 29 April 2009. San Francisco, California, United States of America. This event is expected to gather a wide variety of stakeholders and address renewable energy technologies including wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, bio-fuels and hydrogen. During the three days, attendees are sought to create networks and form partnerships to increase their role in sustaining the environment and economies worldwide, particularly between California, the United States and the emerging markets of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) along with the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and several US agencies are part of the Conference Host Committee and GEF staff will also contribute as speakers. EBRD ANNUAL MEETING AND BUSINESS FORUM: OPPORTUNITIES IN A TOUGHER CLIMATE: 15 May 2009 - 16 May 2009. London, United Kingdom. Under the heading “Opportunities in a tougher climate,” the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will hold its annual meeting and business forum on 15-16 May 2009, in London, UK. A discussion panel will be held on “Energy Efficiency and Climate Change: A Source of Economic Growth and Competitiveness.” C40 LARGE CITIES CLIMATE SUMMIT – SEOUL 2009: 18 May 2009 - 21 May 2009. Seoul, Korea. The C40 Large Cities Climate Leadership Group was established in 2005 by London’s then mayor Ken Livingstone and comprises the world’s largest cities committed to taking action on climate change. C40 previously met in London 2005, New York 2007, and will meet in Seoul in 2009 for its third Summit. The theme of the Seoul Summit is ‘Cities’ Achievements and Challenges in the Fight against Climate Change’. The Summit is expected to attract the mayors from the C40 Group to share their policies and experiences on this issue through plenaries and sessions. G8 DEVELOPMENT MINISTERS MEETING: 21 May 2009 - 23 May 2009. Pecara, Italy. This preparatory meeting will feed its results into the annual summit of the group of most industrialized nations (G8), which will deal with the traditional issues relating to financial stability and macro-economic coordination, with the newer agenda items on development in Africa and in the environment.

WORLD BUSINESS SUMMIT ON CLIMATE CHANGE: 24 May 2009 - 26 May 2009. Denmark, Copenhagen. Six months before the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the World Business Summit on Climate Change will bring together representatives from business, science, economics, civil society, media and government to put forward recommendations for the next international framework on climate change. G8 ENERGY MINISTERS MEETING: 24 May 2009 - 25 May 2009. Rome, Italy. This preparatory meeting will feed its results into the annual summit of the group of most industrialized nations (G8), which will deal with the traditional issues relating to financial stability and macroeconomic coordination, with the newer agenda items on development in Africa and in the environment. G8 FINANCE MINISTERS MEETING: 12 June 2009 - 13 June 2009. Venice, Italy. This preparatory meeting will feed its results into the annual summit of the group of most industrialized nations (G8), which will deal with the traditional issues relating to financial stability and macroeconomic coordination, with the newer agenda items on development in Africa and in the environment. G8 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MINISTERS MEETING: 12 June 2009 - 13 June 2009. Lucca, Italy. This preparatory meeting will feed its results into the annual summit of the group of most industrialized nations (G8), which will deal with the traditional issues relating to financial stability and macro-economic coordination, with the newer agenda items on development in Africa and in the environment. ADB’S ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE 2009: 15 June 2009 - 19 June 2009. Manila, the Philippines. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is planning events in June 2009 related to clean energy and climate: a Climate and Clean Energy Week on 15-19 June 2009; and a High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific on 1617 June, in conjunction with the 4th Asia Clean Energy Forum 2009. The high-level dialogue, co-organized with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), will invite global and regional leaders to share the latest thinking on various aspects of climate change. More than 700 participants drawn from the business community, civil society, governments, development agencies, and academia are expected to attend. GLOBAL FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE ENERGY: TOWARDS AN INTEGRATED ENERGY AGENDA BEYOND 2020: SECURING SUSTAINABLE POLICIES AND INVESTMENTS: 22 June 2009 - 24 June 2009. Vienna, Austria. Through this meeting, the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (GFSE) will celebrate its tenth year anniversary in the context of the wider energy conference. The conference is coorganized by UNIDO, IIASA, the Austrian Development Cooperation and the Austrian Energy Agency. OECD FORUM 2009: 23 June 2009 - 24 June 2009. Paris, France. The OECD Forum, a “multi-stakeholder summit” that brings together business and labour leaders, civil society personalities, government ministers and leaders of international organizations, will be held in conjunction with the annual OECD ministerial summit. The forum will address several issues related to the current financial crisis, as well as how to incorporate green-growth and climate change in the response to the crisis. G8 FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETING: 26 June 2009. Trieste, Italy. This preparatory meeting will feed its results into the annual summit of the group of most industrialized nations (G8), which will deal with the traditional issues relating to financial stability and macro-economic coordination, with the newer agenda items on development in Africa and in the environment.


Letters to the Editor

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