T&T unenergetic approach to green energy
By TT Newsday
Petroleumworld 11 11 2021
As the final hours of COP26 are upon us, it is clear there remain many unanswered questions about the world’s response to climate change, as well as this country’s position with regard to its own policies.
On Wednesday, the United Nations released a draft outline of a final accord. The document, which is subject to approval by about 200 participating COP26 nations, “calls upon parties to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.”
Meanwhile, a few days earlier on Saturday, the Prime Minister reaffirmed this country’s commitment to producing natural gas for as long as it takes. He further suggested this country will join with other oil producing countries to fight against the supposed demonisation of hydrocarbon products.
“We are in the business of hydrocarbons and will remain there as long as there is a market in the world,” he said.
Energy Minister Stuart Young thinks the pursuit of a “cleaner hydrocarbon” is not inconsistent with the overall push from non-renewable to renewable energy.
But experts say the Government’s vision needs to be far wider. At the same time, key details also need to be elaborated.
“We need a cross-sectoral plan for transitioning and diversification,” said Sustain TT managing director Carver Bacchus. “This is not an energy-sector problem to solve. It is an every-sector problem.”
We still have the problem of our high emissions per capita, significant plastics pollution and many other environmental threats. Longstanding land use and waste disposal issues such the country’s toxic landfills are yet to be effectively addressed.
“If you’re going to transition to renewables while maintaining hydrocarbon production, the hydrocarbon production should pay for the transition,” argued Smart Energy Ltd CEO Ian Smart. “There must be a price on carbon that is causing climate change.”
Also contained in the draft accord was a call on developed nations to “to provide enhanced and additional support” to developing nations to address the issue of damage and loss caused by temperature rises and weather extremes.
This corresponds with this country’s official position at COP26 which notably placed emphasis on compensation as opposed to the mitigation measures called for by neighbouring states like Barbados.
It was only in August the Prime Minister was warning citizens against depending on oil and gas revenues and urging them to help diversify the economy.
But energy prices have rebounded. The Government’s insistence on sticking to gas might reflect a degree of pragmatism, but it cannot be a substitute for a long-term plan and more radical thinking.
The goal of 30 per cent electric generation by 2030, in the context of all of this, might not be ambitious enough.
“TT has to migrate its electricity generation away from natural gas and towards renewables. This is not happening fast enough,” said former energy minister Kevin Ramnarine. “The solar farms by BP and Shell needs to be accelerated.”
But we need wider partnerships, not limited to traditional oil and gas actors. And we desperately need to more energetically address the transition to a green economy.