“Window of Opportunity” in the Caribbean

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Long dependent on imported crude oil, the Caribbean island states now have a “window of opportunity” to strengthen their energy security and deploy clean energy projects across the region, according to Ambassador Doctor Neil Parsan, OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development of the Organization of American States (OAS). He was speaking at a recent ministerial meeting held on the sidelines of this year’s Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF).

A number of factors are coming together to create an “ideal environment for energy sector infrastructure reform in the Caribbean,” said Ambassador Parsan. These factors, he explained, include the upcoming climate change meeting in Paris, the United Nations’ recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a growing commitment by financial institutions to support low-carbon energy projects, and coordinated efforts by decision-makers in the Caribbean.

“From the perspective of climate change and the environment, Caribbean nations are highly susceptible to the effects of global warming, yet produce but a tiny fraction of global greenhouse gas emissions,” Parsan said. “This fact notwithstanding, the region is leading by example and is seeking to become a model of energy sustainability.”

Today’s relatively low oil prices are giving countries more flexibility to act, while lower renewable energy costs are making these investments more feasible, according to Parsan, at the Ministerial and High-Level Institutions’ Meeting held on October 19 in Miami.

The annual event seeks to foster high-level political dialogue on strategies to advance energy security and leverage investment in energy infrastructure in the Caribbean. The OAS, under the auspices of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), co-hosted the meeting along with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Government ministers from several OAS member countries participated, including: Darcy W. Boyce, Minister with Responsibility for Energy in the Office of the Prime Minister, Barbados; Ian Douglas, Minister of Trade, Energy and Employment, Dominica; Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Jamaica; James Fletcher, Minister of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Saint Lucia; and Ian Liburd, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Post, Urban Development and Transport, St. Kitts and Nevis.

The event took place in the context of this year’s Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF 2015), a major trade show that brings together government officials, representatives of utilities, regulatory agencies, multilateral institutions, banks, energy developers, and technology companies, among others.

Note: Next month, this newsletter will take a more in-depth look at the energy market in the Caribbean.