One Generation Plants the Trees;
Another Gets the Shade
This Chinese proverb holds significant relevance for every Caribbean country that faces the ongoing threat of the climate crisis and provides a simple, yet insightful reminder to each of us that every generation has the ability to empower the next.
The existential threat of climate change is one of this region’s most challenging problems. Should our memories be short, let us not forget 2017, a mere five years ago, when Hurricane Irma created a ghost town in Barbuda and Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica leaving it cut off from the rest of the world.
Accelerating Regional Transformation
To further drive home the importance for the world to start acting on climate change now, last year Patricia Scotland QC, the Dominica-born lawyer, former British government minister and Commonwealth Secretary-General told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that 42 small countries could disappear if climate action is not taken now. This is the climate reality that we face In the region.
The good news is that taking action on climate change now will do more than avoid worst-case scenarios from future disasters. It can help accelerate regional transformation, and if we are to achieve a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive Caribbean, we must do everything in our power to convert the climate crisis into climate opportunities by building greener and more climate-resilient economies.
The Caribbean Can Lead the Way
At the just concluded 2022 Caribbean Sustainable Energy Conference hosted by The Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator (CCSA) CEO Racquel Moses reinforced the necessity for Caribbean nations and businesses to work together, and where feasible, collaborate with CCSA to accelerate the implementation of urgently required future-proof projects. She also pointed to beacons of hope across several Caribbean countries who are taking the necessary steps to build out and activate their nation’s adaptation plans.
She noted that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, with support from Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator, is making progress in securing an investor for the establishment of a solar panel assembly plant in that country, which will help in their energy transition, income diversification and generating a new niche force of skilled labour. The Government of Barbados has set the aspirational goal to achieve a fossil-fuel-free economy by 2030 and in 2021 Costa Rica’s electric grid was powered by 98% renewable energy for the seventh straight year.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) including Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines are also pioneers in their geothermal exploration, which will create opportunities for green hydrogen global exports, as well as other opportunities such as providing green data centres for blockchain mining, and Dominica is charting a path to become the world’s first hurricane proof country.
Courage Must Replace Complacency
“The region is making progress, but the pace of action must be stepped up,” said Kiesha Farnum, Director of Public Sector Projects at CCSA. “The Caribbean is at the tipping point where courage must replace complacency and where we must see the opportunities in climate adversity. Actionable initiatives such as these lay the framework for the region to become more resilient and help create greater sustainability for the Caribbean.”
The region must also fast-track its transition to renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal, wind, waste to energy, biomass and hydro power. We must also leverage our blue economy assets such as sustainable fishing and maritime transport and shipping for example, which is a trillion dollar industry, and actively engage in climate-smart agriculture, such as the project we are supporting in Jamaica. These are just a few examples where there are opportunities for the region to drive economic growth, resilience and sustainability.
A Trillion Dollar Industry
Given the broad financial bandwidth required for addressing the climate issue in the region, trillions of dollars in green investment will be required, and this represents opportunities. It also suggests that in the Caribbean, there is room to foster more private sector climate financing by efficiently steering capital towards green investments.
With all that has been shared here, the question you may be asking is: How can each of us get involved and go about planting today’s trees so that tomorrow’s generation can enjoy the shade?
The first and most important thing that we can do is advocate, to our governments and with our purchases. As much as individual actions count, what we do as a collective and how we hold our leaders accountable for the policies that will make the wholesale changes needed will have the greatest impact in the immediate term.
The Earthshot Prize: £1,000,000
As individuals, we can make simple choices around the home such as switching to LED lights, taking shorter showers, or even machine-washing clothes in cold water. Businesses can, for example, consider a transition to renewable energy sources, implementing a recycling programme and exploring methods in how we can green the products we export.
Another way you can get involved is if you have a climate-smart project which you believe has the potential to address the climate issue at scale with the right investment. Fill out our project matchmaking submission form and we will review it to determine if there is an opportunity for us to assist in accelerating it.
As an Official Nominator for The Earthshot Prize, the most prestigious global environment prize in history, we can also consider nominating your project for the £1,000,000 Grant prize to scale its impact. The search for the 2022 winners has begun. Find out more at https://earthshotprize.org/ or fill out our Earthshot Prize Project Nomination Form. Our future is in our hands. The time to act is now.