PORT-OF-SPAIN: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have approved a regional energy policy that will guide the 15-member grouping in its pursuit of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
A Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat statement said that approval was given at the meeting of the CARICOM Council of Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in Trinidad & Tobago last week.
“For more than a decade, the policy, which was mandated by the CARICOM Heads of Government, was under formulation and review,” the statement said.
“The goal of the policy is the fundamental transformation of the energy sector of CARICOM through the provision of secure and sustainable supplies of energy in a manner which minimizes energy waste in all sectors. Targets towards such efficiency have been set in the policy. The document will now be presented to the Heads of Government of CARICOM for endorsement.”
Dominica’s Energy Minister, Rayburn Blackmoore, who chaired the meeting, described the adoption of the policy as “historic”.
“We recognize therefore, from a collective standpoint, if we are to realize economic development there must be something deliberate by way of a policy direction,” he said.
Blackmoore said that the policy document in itself takes into account the efforts of all member states and “it will provide a road map with specific timelines which will serve as a guide for member states”.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy and Energy Affairs Minister, Kevin Ramnarine, said approving the policy was a “very significant achievement for COTED” while his Jamaican counterpart, Phillip Paulwell, acknowledged that there was a lack of regional unity in the energy sector.
“We have set the stage now for a sustained focus on solving our energy problems,” said Paulwell. “The first energy crisis occurred some 40 years ago and we as a region have not been able to resolve that. Until we have cheaper sources of energy, we will not get our region to advance as quickly as it ought to and this policy is seeking to do just that.”
Belize Minister with Responsibility for Energy, Joy Grant, said that she was happy that the meeting had approved the policy.
“This is a very good start…I see this as a really great day,” said Grant. “Moving from this day onward, we will now be able to implement what we have been talking about for so long.”
The meeting also discussed matters such as the development and implementation of the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS), the management of energy information systems and the development of geothermal energy.