Secretary-General for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. Carla Barnett on Monday underscored the need for regional partners to intensify their efforts towards achieving energy security and climate resilience. The CARICOM official made this urgent call during the opening ceremony of the Guyana Energy Conference and Supply Chain Expo 2024 which ends on February 22. The conference is being held at the Marriott Hotel under the theme: “Fueling transformation and modernization.”

Dr. Barnett’s presentation focused on the critical role energy plays in ensuring the development and economic stability of member states. Dr. Barnett said each CARICOM member state is unique in this regard, as they implement varying programmes with an energy mix that draws on renewable and hydrocarbon sources that suit their respective needs. She noted however that achieving energy security has been challenging for many. “Hazards such as hurricanes and earthquakes affect electricity supply leaving communities without electricity and pose significant threat to security and wellbeing. Many of our member states are even struggling to replace outdated powerplants and fragile electric grids,” said the Secretary General.

She further noted that the heavy reliance on imported oil with its rising costs exacerbates existing energy challenges. She said this is made even worse by increasing geopolitical tensions in Ukraine which have affected prices.

Despite these challenges, or because of them, Dr. Barnett said CARICOM states have defied the odds, making strides in pursuing sustainable energy solutions as a matter of policy. “We are seeing progress in key sectors such as power generation, transport and infrastructure and it is projected that by 2050, the region will transition from 19 percent electrification to 51 percent. This underscores our commitment to a just, equitable and accelerated transition that leaves no one behind,” the Secretary General said.

Dr. Barnett also noted that CARICOM is working towards a more sustainable and resilient energy future by accelerating the deployment of renewable energy resources and fostering partnership among member states.

She was keen to note that the increasing production of hydrocarbons in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago also presents opportunities to help enhance regional energy security. Dr. Barnett said it also presents opportunities for increased private and public investments in building social, economic, environmental and climate resilience as the world transitions towards clean and renewable sources of energy.

More than that, Dr. Barnett said the hydrocarbon producers in CARICOM, as exemplified by Guyana, must be commended for committing to a net zero trajectory.

Overall, Dr. Barnett said accelerating the energy transition and energy system transformation must be a priority for all CARICOM member states. “…Urgent action is imperative to ensure energy security and climate resilience for without these, the region’s development trajectory is at risk,” said the Secretary General.

She noted that CARICOM as a regional body will continue to do its part by enhancing cooperation among member states through policy harmonization, regulatory reforms and capacity building initiatives.


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