Barbados: Ministro de Industria señala que países caribeños deben reducir su dependencia del petróleo y buscar nuevas matrices energéticas

Barbados: Ministro de Industria señala que países caribeños deben reducir su dependencia del petróleo y buscar nuevas matrices energéticas

A senior Barbados government minister says Caribbean countries should not feel comforted by the recent drop in oil prices on the global market and should continue to examine options to lower the region’s dependency on fossil fuel.

Industry Minister, Donville Inniss, speaking at the opening of the Electric Vehicle Conference here Monday, said that it was no secret that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries relied almost exclusively on imported fossil fuels to meet their energy needs at the commercial and personal level.

He made reference to a recent report by the Central Bank of Barbados that showed fuel imports averaged an “uncomfortable” 11 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Barbados.

Inniss said a closer look at recent deviations from this average caused greater discomfort, as it showed that during the period 2007 and 2009, the amount mushroomed from seven per cent to over 20 per cent, as the cost of oil soared to USD$147 per barrel in 2008.

“This scenario would have replicated across the region. These increased prices have reverberated across every aspect of our daily lives. Fortunately, oil prices have dropped over the last few months but this does not mean that we as a region should feel some sense of comfort in view of the volatility of the oil market.”

Inniss said that the harsh reality was that 40 per cent of Barbados’ fuel imports goes towards power generation, 30 per cent towards transportation; 10 per cent to the commercial sector; nine to the industrial sector; eight to the residential sector; and five per cent was classified as other.

“It is therefore no surprise that unpredictable fuel import costs have such an immediate and palpable effect on our daily lives,” he said.

Therefore, Inniss said that it was for this reason that the Freundel Stuart government entered into an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union in 2013 to execute the Public Sector Smart Energy Programme.

“The programme is part of the Sustainable Energy Framework for Barbados and as such, shall contribute to reducing energy costs, promoting energy sustainability, reducing Green House Gas emissions and mitigating climate change.

“It is estimated that the over US$24 million dollars invested in this programme will save the public sector US$45 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years and avoid the production of more than 132,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions,” Inniss added.

Inniss urged Caribbean countries not to fall prey to unsustainable financing programmes for fossil fuel, as it was more borne out of selfish geo-political desires.

“We have to invest in renewable energy as part of the walk towards a greater level of political and economic independence. Too many islands are too faint-hearted when it comes to rolling out and sustaining renewable energy policies and programmes,” he added.

Antigua Observer