Caribbean discusses future of energy

The Organization of American States (OAS) says its Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin, on Monday joined ministers and high-level authorities on energy in the Caribbean to address energy and climate challenges in preparation for a meeting of ministers in 2015 under the umbrella of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA).

According to the OAS, Ramdin stressed in Miami how the shift toward sustainable energy is critical.

“We cannot escape the fact that renewable energy has very high upfront costs and at the moment many of our countries are facing a very serious debt challenge,” he said. “We have difficulties striking that balance between investing in the future and dealing with our day-to-day problems; this is a major issue for policy makers in the region.”

Minister of Public Services, Information, Broadcasting, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology of St. Lucia, James Fletcher said, “we need to shift to an energy paradigm that is more sustainable.”

Fletcher also addressed capacity building and strategic partnerships, explaining that “this energy sector is new, and we do not have the same capacity in-house to be able to respond to and deal with the challenges.

Energy is now the investment frontier,” he added.

The Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mines of Jamaica, Phillip Paulwell, who chaired the ministerial debate, said he was impressed with the wide array of ECPA activities over the past five years.

“I wasn’t aware of all areas that ECPA has been involved with. As we look forward to the Ministerial in Mexico, each sub-region has peculiar issues that we want to isolate in this pre-meeting,” said Minister Paulwell, adding that “there is no future for us if the status quo remains.”

The Executive Secretary for Integral Development of the OAS Sherry Tross said that “timing is important; there are so many convergences and processes going on that will be affected by how we look at and how we propose to really handle this issue of energy efficiency and renewable energy, energy security and energy sustainability going forward.”

“It really behooves us to take advantage of this moment of convergence to capture the political will that can drive the agenda going forward,” she said.

The meeting included discussions, among others, of the policy implications of energy trends in the Caribbean, energy and climate goals of the attending member-states, and visions and goals for the 2015 ministerial meeting, the OAS said.