MINISTRY OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
SPEECH FOR THE HON MINISTER OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
THE HONOURABLE PENELOPE BECKLES
Launch of the GCCA+ Solar Installation Programme
Wednesday 07th September, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
- His Excellency Peter Cavendish – Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago
- Randi Davis – Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme
- The Executive and Members of the Nature Seekers Club?
- Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning everyone. I’m pleased to be here with you, on the occasion of the launch of the GCCA+ Solar Installation programme at this Nature Seekers Facility in Matura.
Today’s event is another milestone along the route to deploying renewable energy in our rural communities, and I am particularly excited to be a part of this launch because I recall that in 2006, during my tenure as Minister for Public Utilities and the Environment, I had the honour of being part of the launch of the Turtle Village Trust.
At 2017 figures of six thousand. Five hundred and ten Kilowatt Hours (6,510 KwH) per capita, Trinidad & Tobago has a high per-capita rate of energy consumption. Nearly half of the households in Trinidad and Tobago have an energy consumption level that is on par with North American households, and nearly three times the global average. Low local energy costs, coupled with the slow adoption of energy-efficient technologies, are contributing factors to these high levels of consumption. Trinidad and Tobago’s electricity generation is also almost solely dependent on natural gas, consuming approximately 8% of the natural gas produced in the country. Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2013 were estimated at 34 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2).
These unflattering statistics, along with more proactive international climate policies, encouraged the Government to take decisive action to address climate change, through the development of a broad climate agenda. Trinidad and Tobago became a party to numerous international legally-binding agreements on matters relating to climate change, including the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement. Becoming party to these agreements not only signaled to the global community that Trinidad and Tobago is serious in its intent to help tackle this crisis, but it also allowed us access to the international programmes, resources and technical assistance to support our efforts locally.
The Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) is one such international programme. It is a flagship initiative of the European Union, geared towards helping the world's most vulnerable countries to address the issue of climate change, and implement their national commitments, such as their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Trinidad and Tobago through the Ministry of Planning and Development, was able to partner with the Delegation of the European Union to ensure that we were able to design projects to be able to access the GCCA+ programme and contribute to the achievement of our NDCs.
I would like to sincerely thank Ambassador Cavendish and his team at the EU Delegation, for facilitating the negotiations and bringing to fruition tangible, on-the-ground projects. The process to get us to this point began in 2017, and the support we received extends beyond the limits of the current activities outlined in this grant. This is certainly a sign of a true partnership.
In 2019 after 2 years of preparatory work, approvals were given on both sides for financing the programme called, “Support to the Implementation of Trinidad and Tobago’s Nationally Determined Contribution”. This component of the Programme is managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and it includes the installation of rooftop-scale solar energy systems in remote communities, as well as RE/EE-conducive policy and legislative framework, and the raising of public awareness in relation to Energy Efficiency. The overall aim is to assist Trinidad and Tobago in increasing the availability and use of energy from renewable sources, as well as to increase the efficiency levels in the consumption of energy.
The UNDP team has partnered with us as the executing agency for this arm of the programme. The team has worked assiduously to keep the project on track, despite the numerous challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The lengthy period of lockdowns, shipping constraints and supply issues were navigated with innovation and ingenuity. Thank you and congratulations on a job well done!
- I would like to thank Nature Seekers for agreeing to be part of this historic project and for the tremendous work the organisation continues to do. This Community Based Organisation’s primary focus, is on the conservation of leatherback turtles on Matura Bay. However, they have also taken the community approach to heart, by trying to improve the livelihood of community members. The organisation manages a Recycled Craft and Jewellery project, where community artisans work with recycled materials such as glass and coconuts, to create unique pieces of jewelry. This enterprise provides employment, and is an innovative solution that utilises the glass bottles dumped on Matura’s beaches to create the now-famous “Turtle Warrior” line of glass bead jewellery. Nature Seekers is also involved in the reforestation of the area around Matura Beach. Members of the group have been planting coconut trees and other trees that help combat beach erosion and in turn, protect the nesting sites of Leatherback Turtles.
In closing I would like to offer my appreciation and encouragement to the staff and management of Nature Seekers. Continue your great work as it relates to environmental sustainability, turtles, conservation, and now, renewable energy. You can serve as an inspiration to the Nation not only as it relates to your stellar work in conservation, but now also as a proponent for the use of renewable energy. We also see that this initiative and the activities of Nature Seekers are geared towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, namely; SDG 7: Affordable Renewable Energy, SDG 14: Life Below Water and SDG 17: Partnering for the goals. By working together we can make life-changing improvements to our community and our Nation.
I thank you.