US throws support behind Caribbean’s energy security, climate crisis efforts

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Guyana’s President Dr Irfaan Ali with US Vice President Kamala Harris along with other Caribbean leaders

 

 

Recognising that the Caribbean is on the frontline of the existential crisis posed by climate change, the United States has launched an initiative that would see the country supporting its regional neighbours in addressing energy security as well as climate adaptation and resilience with the urgency that these challenges demand.

As part of the Summit of the Americas being held this week in Los Angeles, California, US Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday met with President Dr Irfaan Ali and other Caribbean Heads of State along with Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr Carla Barnett.

During that meeting, VP Harris announced the launch of the United States-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030), which she explained is the US Government’s primary mechanism for addressing energy security and the climate crisis in this region.

“Through this partnership, we will support energy infrastructure and climate resilience projects at every stage of development, from beginning to end…,” she noted according to a transcript from the meeting that was released by the White House on Thursday.

According to the US Vice President, this initiative will see the North American nation support the Caribbean nations in four particular ways. These include working with countries to identify new clean energy projects; providing technical assistance to make sure these projects are viable and appealing not only to the nations but also to investors; and bringing investors to the Caribbean on roadshows to showcase these projects.

“And fourth and finally, we will improve access — and importantly — we will improve access to development financing, which will make these projects a reality. We will engage with the private sector at every stage of this work because, of course, their involvement is essential to making this productive and meaningful,” she posited.

VP Harris contended that when the transition to clean energy is accelerated, it will unlock great economic opportunities for the entire region as well as advance efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

“When we work together to address this urgent threat, it benefits the people of the United States and the people of the Caribbean. And all of us, of course, benefit by reducing emissions… And regarding the climate crisis, it is one of our highest priorities. But there are other issues that are also very important that we can and must address together,” she asserted.

In conclusion, the Vice President underscored that strengthening the US-Caribbean relationship is a priority for her and the Joe Biden-led administration.

Thursday’s meeting between VP Harris and regional leaders served as a follow-up to a virtual engagement last month. At that meeting, discussions were held on the region’s priorities and the Vice President had indicated that the United States would look into the issues raised and work with Caribbean countries on resolving the challenges that they are presented with.

Having committed that the US would develop a plan, VP Harris on Thursday stated that actions were “actually taken” and added that she looks forward to continuing to do just that.

During last month’s virtual engagement, President Ali had contended that Caricom must have a seat at the table when talks of the future of the fossil fuel industry and the shift to renewable energy – which President Dr Irfaan Ali said must be the subject of deep conversations – arises.

The Guyanese leader had made it clear that the region “must be part of that conversation in defining this policy going forward”. He said that while the world is heading in the direction of reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, locking out new suppliers can create a monopoly for those who are currently involved in the oil industry.

“The question is, if you’re locking out new suppliers, it is to whose advantage? We can be very well creating a monopoly for those who are already in the business, who have already extracted this natural resource and developed their own jurisdiction,” President Ali said.

During the discussions, President Ali also called for a better working relationship between the USA and the Caribbean Community, especially in understanding and respecting the policies of the Region.

The Guyanese Head of State spoke about the “strong and strengthened relationship” between the US and Guyana, but he also called for more trust and better coordination at both the country-to-country level and between the US and Caricom.

Meanwhile, only Sunday last during Guyana’s observance of World Environment Day, President Ali renewed his call for developed nations to make good on their pledges toward environmental preservation.

According to the Head of State, the issue of climate change, mitigation, and adaptation is one that affects the entire world and for the “One Planet” dream to be realised, every nation, particularly the developed nations, should step up and play their part.

President Ali further outlined the economic plight of the world to drive home his point that the climate change conversation cannot happen in isolation, but rather it must take into account every factor critical to the conditions of living.

“…this is the reality of the world we live in today. That is why we have been consistently calling on the developed world to stay true to the pledges they made. We are far away from the minimal $100 billion pledge that the developed world would have made to fight climate change, adaptation, and mitigation measures. If you look at adaptation alone, just for adaptation measures in the developing economies, it will cost between $140 billion to $300 billion annually if we are to successfully meet adaptation costs alone by 2030,” Ali had stated on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a Fact Sheet from the White House on Thursday describes the ‘PACC 2030’ as the Biden-Harris Administration’s new initiative involving fresh commitments to – and integration of – climate adaptation and resilience and clean energy programmes across the Caribbean region.

It further states that PACC 2030 establishes a framework to elevate U.S. cooperation with Caribbean countries to support climate adaptation and strengthen energy security while building the resilience of critical infrastructure and local economies to the climate crisis. PACC 2030 will serve as the U.S. government’s primary mechanism for regional climate adaptation and resilience and energy cooperation through 2030, as we work toward meeting the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).