Nothing ‘clean’ about green energy deal

The arrival of US Vice-President Joe Biden brought much excitement and anticipation for strengthening relations between the Uni­ted States and Trinidad and Tobago. One such tightening bond to emerge from the visit is the memorandum of understanding (MOU) to facilitate co-operation towards renewable energy development through the establishment of a Renewable Energy Research Cen­tre for the Caribbean, based at The Univer­sity of the West In­dies (UWI) St Augustine campus.

All this sounds fantastic, up until Prime Minister Kamla Per­sad-Bissessar very openly stated what the purpose of the endeavour is: to support the development of the local green-energy technology industry and to reduce our dependence on hydrocarbons so more is available for export. There are several aspects of both these statements that are both disheartening and disappointing.

To begin with, it is saddening that it takes the arrival of the leader of another country to make us realise the importance of boosting our local green-energy industry. Did our national leaders need an external entity to come into our sovereign nation and emphasise to us the importance of our local renewable energy industry? 

Joe Biden was in our country for a grand total of two days, and we have immediately committed not only to promote the industry but also to create a centre for renewable energy. We go from zero to hero in just two days! It is a valid argument that the collaboration with the US Department of Energy would provide resources and finances that were not previously available, but that is only part of the equation. 

If our leaders were truly dedicated to the promotion of a local green-energy industry, they would have done more than simply sign the Caricom Energy Policy, encouraging sustainable energy development.

They would have put foundations in place for the practical development of the industry. Any­thing from subsidies, to obligations on private industry, to de-risking investment could have developed the industry at much lower cost than an entire university centre, yet Joe Biden steps in and the heavens are opened to the green scene. What an embarrassment, to say the least. 

As a producer and consumer of hydrocarbons, we have a duty to reduce our own demand, as well as our production. There is also a strong economic argument to be made for doing this in terms of both long and short-term economic growth, not to mention the opportunity to take the Carib­bean forward as pioneers of sustainable energy resources in the Americas, which could do immeasurable good to tourism industries, glo­bal relations and our international reputation.

Rachel Callender
MPhil environmental policy


Source: Trinidad Express