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Caribbean must fast-track from fossil fuels to cheaper payback renewables- UNFCCC expert

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 June 2023, 14:35 by Denis Chabrol

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, Simon Stiell.

GROS ISLET, St Lucia, June 21 (DW).- The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, Simon Stiell has been touting the long-term environmental and financial benefits of the Caribbean fast-tracking its shift from from oil and gas to solar and wind as energy sources.

“The Caribbean is, to a large extent, still dependent on fossil fuels for its energy supply. But no-one wants to be beholden to the international price of oil and gas. Solar and wind are cheaper than ever before. They make more money and pay back far faster than fossil fuels,” he said in his 2023 William G. Demas Memorial Lecture on Tuesday at the Sandal’s Resort. Mr Demas, a renowned regional economist, who served as the second president of the Caribbean Development Bank and the first Secretary General of the Caribbean Community, died in 1998.

According to the UNFCCC official, the world would add a record 440 gigawatts of new renewable capacity this year, double what the International Energy Agency predicted in 2020.Ā  “For the first time this year, renewables are eating into the energy market share. Solar is attracting more capital than oil,” he added.

He acknowledged that oil and gas could not be abandoned in the short-term but called on Caribbean nati0ns to take urgent steps to move towards renewable energy sources.Ā  “We cannot end fossil fuel use over night, but we need to put a plan in place for its accelerated replacement by renewables.Ā  Globally, a rapid, but phased and responsible transition away from fossil fuels would bring a raft of benefits to populations and societies,” said Mr Stiell, a former Grenada Minister of Climate Resilience and the Environment.

Guyana, a major emerging oil and gas producer, is investing US$759 million in the construction of a natural gas plant at Wales, West Coast Demerara in what government has repeatedly said would be cheaper and cleaner sources of electricity compared to diesel and heavy fuel oil- powered generators.Ā  Government has said it intends to invest some of its oil revenues in the construction of solar farms and hydro-power stations.

Mr Stiell noted that energy production globally is shifting from a concentrated, expensive, polluting commodity-based system, to an efficient, manufactured, technology-driven system that offers continuously falling costs and is available everywhere.

He said national governments and non-governmental organizations were already piloting, and implementing, new financial instruments and other financial products, to support more effective mitigation, adaption, and responses to loss and damage.

The UNFCC secretariat says it supports a complex architecture of bodies that serve to advance the implementation of the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

The secretariat provides technical expertise and assists in theĀ analysis and review of climate change informationĀ reported by Parties and in the implementation of the Kyoto mechanisms. It also maintainsĀ the registry for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)Ā established under the Paris Agreement, a key aspect ofĀ implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The secretariat organizes and supports between two and fourĀ negotiating sessionsĀ each year. The largest and most important is the Conference of the Parties, held annually and hosted in different locations around the globe. It is the largest annual United Nations conference, attended on average by around 25,000 participants.

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June 2023