Category: Government

From rolling back plastic bottle bans in national parks to dismantling the U.S. climate change advisory board, the Trump administration continues its assault on the environment. We must work together to help ensure a brighter future for our generation and generations to come. Never forget that every individual action matters, no matter how small.

Below is a collection of actions you can take right now to help combat the climate crisis. We also urge you to invite your friends to join the “Fight the Flood” action center where they can sign up themselves and explore more ways to make a difference.

Action 1: Pledge to reduce your household energy waste this year 
Energy is wasted at almost every point of its generation, transmission and use — from extracting fossil fuels to using inefficient appliances. All this wasted energy takes a toll on our climate, water and wildlife. Fortunately there are many ways to reduce energy waste, both by making shifts in your lifestyle and by pressuring your legislators to create better energy policy. Pledge to fight energy waste and make a difference on climate change.

Action 2: Tell President Trump: Appalachian communities are at risk
Mountaintop removal coal mining has destroyed more than 500 mountains and buried more than 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia. Yet, despite a growing movement of Appalachians and more than 100,000 concerned Americans rallying to end the destruction, it’s still happening. Add your voice to the movement demanding the Trump administration takes action to stop mountaintop removal.

Action 3: Unmask your city to help combat air pollution
Air pollution presents serious risks to public health. More than 80% of people living in urban areas where air quality is monitored are exposed to air pollution levels that exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) safety limits, increasing the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and stroke. Today health practitioners are coming together to raise the importance of safe, clean air for their patients and for the climate. Find your city here and contact your representatives to get involved.

Be a climate warrior!

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s outlook shows renewables will be cheaper almost everywhere in just a few years.

Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast.

That’s the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India.

The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency’s central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come.

“Costs of new energy technologies are falling in a way that it’s more a matter of when than if,” said Seb Henbest, a researcher at BNEF in London and lead author of the report.

The report also found that through 2040:

  • China and India represent the biggest markets for new power generation, drawing $4 trillion, or about 39 percent all investment in the industry.
  • The cost of offshore wind farms, until recently the most expensive mainstream renewable technology, will slide 71 percent, making turbines based at sea another competitive form of generation.
  • At least $239 billion will be invested in lithium-ion batteries, making energy storage devices a practical way to keep homes and power grids supplied efficiently and spreading the use of electric cars.
  • Natural gas will reap $804 billion, bringing 16 percent more generation capacity and making the fuel central to balancing a grid that’s increasingly dependent on power flowing from intermittent sources, like wind and solar.

BNEF’s conclusions about renewables and their impact on fossil fuels are most dramatic. Electricity from photovoltaic panels costs almost a quarter of what it did in 2009 and is likely to fall another 66 percent by 2040. Onshore wind, which has dropped 30 percent in price in the past eight years, will fall another 47 percent by the end of BNEF’s forecast horizon.

That means even in places like China and India, which are rapidly installing coal plants, solar will start providing cheaper electricity as soon as the early 2020s.

“These tipping points are all happening earlier and we just can’t deny that this technology is getting cheaper than we previously thought,” said Henbest.

Coal will be the biggest victim, with 369 gigawatts of projects standing to be cancelled, according to BNEF. That’s about the entire generation capacity of Germany and Brazil combined.

Capacity of coal will plunge even in the U.S., where President Donald Trump is seeking to stimulate fossil fuels. BNEF expects the nation’s coal-power capacity in 2040 will be about half of what it is now after older plants come offline and are replaced by cheaper and less-polluting sources such as gas and renewables.

In Europe, capacity will fall by 87 percent as environmental laws boost the cost of burning fossil fuels. BNEF expects the world’s hunger for coal to abate starting around 2026 as governments work to reduce emissions in step with promises under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“Beyond the term of a president, Donald Trump can’t change the structure of the global energy sector single-handedly,” said Henbest.

All told, the growth of zero-emission energy technologies means the industry will tackle pollution faster than generally accepted. While that will slow the pace of global warming, another $5.3 trillion of investment would be needed to bring enough generation capacity to keep temperature increases by the end of the century to a manageable 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the report said.

The data suggest wind and solar are quickly becoming major sources of electricity, brushing aside perceptions that they’re too expensive to rival traditional fuels.

By 2040, wind and solar will make up almost half of the world’s installed generation capacity, up from just 12 percent now, and account for 34 percent of all the power generated, compared with 5 percent at the moment, BNEF concluded.

 Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right) greets Lascelles Chin, founder and executive chairman LASCO Affiliates Companies, at the LASCO Releaf Environmental Awareness Programme Awards Ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, in New Kingston on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government will embark on a programme aimed at transforming the collection and management of garbage before the end of the year.

Prime Minister Holness says work is far advanced in examining options for waste-to-energy solutions.

He says the process is being handled by an enterprise team.

Prime Minister Holness was speaking at the LASCO Releaf Environmental Awareness Programme (REAP) Awards Ceremony yesterday in Kingston.

REAP is geared towards helping children become environmentally conscious through fun competition.

The programme incorporates some 120 primary and preparatory schools this year.

Holness says for Jamaica to experience sustainable growth, the practice of protecting the environment for future generations must be embedded in the mindset of children.

He states that the LASCO REAP initiative will add to the national effort in managing waste disposal and protecting the environment.

Gleaner

JAMAICA’S CLIMATE Change Division (CCD) is working on strengthening coordination and overall efficiency within the island’s focal point network, tasked to ensure climate change considerations are included in the planning and operations of each ministry, department and agency of government.

A first step is a lunch meeting to be held this Friday to share on the state of play with international climate change deliberations, post the entering into force of the historic Paris Agreement Jamaica’s ratification of which became official on May 10.

“We will also have a discussion about how we prepare for a pre-COP (Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), what type of pre-COP event we would want to have this year (ahead of the international talks to be held in Bonn), and the mini-COP we have planned for schools with the Ministry of Education,” revealed Una May Gordon, principal director for the CCD.

This meeting follows on a recent stocktaking of how the focal point representatives currently do their work and the way in which they use their knowledge of climate change.

The next step will be to secure a dedicated officer to handle coordination of the network, which currently has some 27 representatives from across the public sector.

“We are hoping that the consultant should be on board in June,” Gordon told The Gleaner, adding that funding for that person has come through the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (JCCCP).

The Jamaica component of the JCCCP was launched in June last year by the United Nations Development Programme and is designed to “bring together policymakers, experts and representatives of communities to encourage policy innovation for climate technology incubation and diffusion”.

The island is set to receive US$1.8 million of the US$15 million earmarked for eight Caribbean islands to help with climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Network Coordination

In addition to coordination of the focal point network with a focus on sectors such as forestry, water and energy, for which adaptation and mitigation plans are being or will be developed Gordon said the consultant will also support the climate change board and its activities.

Attention is also being paid to the composition of the network.

“We are re-examining the focal points to see if we have the right people in place and to ensure we get more depth and adequate coverage across all the portfolios,” Gordon noted.

“I think we can add a few more (representatives) because some ministries have changed. There is (for example) the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, so we need two there. Another is the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport,” she added.

The CCD, meanwhile, has managed to add to its own team over recent months. There is now a mitigation officer Omar Alcock who takes over from Gerald Lindo, who left last year.

There is also a climate finance adviser whose services have been provided through support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as a public awareness and behaviour change officer, appointed through the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience.

“I am quite satisfied with my little team,” said a smiling Gordon.

Gleaner

This 2016 photo shows erosion along the beach in Annotto Bay, St Mary, due to high waves.

A warning has been issued to governments across the Caribbean, including Jamaica, to do more to make countries resilient to climate change as there is a price to pay if nothing is done.

According to a report commissioned by the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme, the Caribbean is “in the front line” and at greater risk from more severe impacts than many other parts of the world because of its geographic location as most regional states are smaller islands where people live close to and depend on the sea.

The Caribbean Marine Climate Change Report Card 2017, which was conducted by scientists and researchers, said more intense storms, floods, droughts, rising sea levels, higher temperatures, and ocean acidification are major threats to all regional economies and pose a danger to lives as well, both directly and indirectly.

“As the seas, reefs and coasts on which all Caribbean people depend are under threat, much more needs to be done to protect these resources, and the authors recommend building more resilient environments to prepare for, and protect against, climate change,” the report noted.

It has recommended developing a regional network of marine protected areas designed to future-proof marine biodiversity against climate change and stabilise shorelines to preserve natural barriers such as mangroves, salt marshes, and coral reefs.

STRONG HURRICANES TO INCREASE

The scientists warn that while the overall frequency of Atlantic storms may decrease, the strongest hurricanes are likely to increase. Global average sea level is projected to rise by a further 10-32 inches over the coming century a devastating amount for a country as low-lying as Cayman, where it could be even worse.

“In the northern Caribbean, sea-level rise could be 25 per cent higher than the global average due to other physical factors affecting land elevation,” the report states. “This projected rise in sea level and severe storms is likely to increase the risk of storm-surge events for Caribbean states, which will further exacerbate risks to biodiversity, settlements and infrastructure.”

The report also zeroed in on some countries in the region including Jamaica, Belize, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana and St Lucia.

Where fishing is concerned, the researchers noted that if there is no action – permanent fishing camps on low lying offshore cays may be completely submerged by future sea level rise, and these are particularly vulnerable during extreme-weather events.

Gleaner

JAMAICA HAS ratified the historic international climate change deal, dubbed the Paris Agreement, which was reached in France in 2015, following years of wrangling among countries over what its provisions should be.

This, as the world looks to combat the changing climate that threatens, through sea level rise, extreme weather events, increasing temperatures and associated impacts, to erode economies and jeopardise lives.

“The instrument was signed by the minister of foreign affairs (Kamina Johnson Smith) on the 30th of March and the document sent off to New York for deposit at the United Nations,” UnaMay Gordon, principal director of the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, told The Gleaner Tuesday.

“It was deposited on the 10th of April. Therefore, for Jamaica, the agreement will enter into force on the 10th of May, 2017,” she added.

Jamaica’s ratification comes close to a year after its participation at the high-level signature ceremony in New York on Earth Day, April 22, 2016.

The agreement, meanwhile, aims to “strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty” through a number of actions.

Included among them is “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

The island joins other CARICOM members with the exception of Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago who have ratified the agreement.

In responding to the perceived delay in Jamaica’s ratification, Gordon said the island had a process that needed to be gone through.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

“Once the instrument was signed (in New York last year), then we started that process. Jamaica, unlike some other countries, had a process of consultation with the stakeholders to ensure that people understood what we were doing,” she said.

“The document went to the AG (attorney general) for the opinion of the AG. We received the opinion of the AG in October 2016. In the opinion, the AG had given an undertaking that there were only some procedural matters and that Jamaica could proceed to ratify the agreement,” she added.

“But we thought as a division that we should do the consultations. So we had focus groups, individual sit-downs and so on with stakeholders from finance, forestry, energy, etc, to find out if they were in agreement with the AG’s opinion to go ahead, and all of them had no objection,” Gordon said further.

No objections were received up to February this year and a Cabinet submission made.

“Cabinet gave the approval to ratify,” Gordon said. “We are now a full party to the agreement and have to implement at the national level.”

Gleaner

The search for oil offshore southern Jamaica continues as a second series of exploration activities, specifically 2D seismic surveys, are expected to begin before the end of this week.

The exploration activities, which are being underatken by Tullow Oil — an independent oil and gas exploration and production company based in the United Kingdom — as part of a Production Sharing Agreement that it signed with the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) in 2014, are forms of marine surveys conducted to identify sub-surface structures that may contain hydrocarbon (oil and gas) deposits.

The search is expected to cover a marine area of approximately 32,065 square kilometres of the Walter Morant area, comprising of 11 individual blocks.

In 2015, Tullow Oil conducted a series of exploration activities, including a bathymetric (sea floor) survey, soil sampling and an environmental survey, to assess priority habitats and species, fishing activity and seabed habitats in the area. Tullow Oil acquired 3,000 kilometres of 2D seismic data in the first quarter of last year and is now planning to acquire an additional 670 kilometres of 2D seismic data to further develop an understanding of the area.

The upcoming surveys will be conducted by seismic company Seabird Exploration, through the use of its specially outfitted vessel, the Harrier Explorer, and will focus on gathering data on an area between Blower Rock at Pedro Banks and the offshore seas south of Clarendon.

“We’ve seen some of the sheens from the oil seeps that helps us understand that there might be a source kitchen and that is one of the components necessary. You need to have a kitchen… and we are hoping to go ahead and confirm that, through the seismic programme,” Non-Op Business Unit Manager at Tullow Oil Eric Bauer told the

Jamaica Observer yesterday during a tour of the Harrier Explorer, which was docked at the port of Kingston.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Andrew Wheatley, who got a tour of the vessel, stated that he was impressed that they have reached the stage where they are going into 2D seismic studies, which he said will help further the search towards finding prospective oil or gas deposits in the selected area.

“We are cognisant of the fact that it’s a process, but we just want to use the opportunity to keep the Jamaican public informed. It’s a partnership between Government and Tullow, but also a partnership between the Government and people, because we want our citizens to be aware.

“We are now at the stage where we are doing the 2D seismic study and this is going to take around six days for the collection of data, and that data will be analysed over a one-year period and if it is positive enough, we move to the 3D seismic survey,” he told the press.

He explained that the 3D seismic survey gives a more detailed idea as to the layer of land, and if that comes up positive, then they will move towards the actual drilling of the first exploration well.

Wheatley also expressed his appreciation to both Tullow and Seabird Exploration for their efforts to balance environmental consideration along with the country’s own development, through their environmental protection efforts and by forming relationships with fishermen and other relevant stakeholders.

Party chief for the Harrier Explorer, David Healy, also underscored the importance of local involvement, highlighting that one of the two support vessels that will be accompanying the Harrier Explorer is a local one.

“We will need both as it’s very important to have not just somebody who knows the job that we do… but local knowledge is very important as well. So it’s always important for us to bring in as many local people as we can, because they know (the) area, what’s happening and when it happens,” Healy explained.

“When you speak to people, we don’t want them to think that we are just going to come in there and destroy their fishing areas or anything of the sort, we also have to protect our own stuff, and so it’s beneficial to both of us if we can work together, so it’s good support,” he said.

Seated from (left) Audrey Sewell, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation; Milverton Reynold, managing director of the Development Bank of Jamaica; Gillian Hyde, general manager of JN Small Business Loans, and Allison Rangolan McFarlane, chief technical director, Environmental Foundation of Jamaica sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate the administration of the Climate Change Adaptation Line of Credit (CCALoC). The CCALoC will provide financing to Micro, Small and Medium Size Enterprises in the tourism and agri-business sectors across Jamaica, to increase resilience to climate change in these sectors. The signing took place at the Office of the Prime Minister in St. Andrew last year. Looking on are Minister with Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz and Therese Turner-Jones, general manager of the Inter-American Development Bank Caribbean Department.

Jamaica National Small Business Loans (JNSBL) is looking to vamp up interest in its US$2.5-million adaptation to climate change line of credit, catering exclusively to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) from the agriculture, tourism and related sectors.

“In the coming months, JNSBL will be strengthening its efforts through collaborations with related parties in the tourism and agro value chain to further promote the special loan facility,” said Jacqueline Shaw Nicholson, JNSBL’s communications and client services manager.

“We will also support the education of persons on matters of climate change as well as adaptive and mitigation techniques available to them,” she told The Gleaner.

So far, SMEs have drawn down on J$19.5 million of the available funds to finance the installation of rainwater harvesting systems, drip irrigation systems, water recirculation systems, solar water heating system, and energy smart system.

The first loan was approved in December, following the official launch of the line of credit earlier in the year.

“JNSBL is pleased with the take up of the loan facility so far, with 51 per cent to the Tourism sector and 49 per cent to the agro sector in disbursements,” said Shaw Nicholson.

For those persons wishing to drawn down on the funds, criteria for selection include not only that they be operating a tourism or agro-related business, but also that proposed projects must enhance their capacity to cope better with the increased changes and effects of climate change.

“Collateral is required and can include machinery and equipment of trade or to be purchased, motor vehicles that can be comprehensively insured or registered titles as well as lien on deposits, guarantors are also acceptable,” revealed Shaw Nicholson.

The maximum loan amount that can be awarded is $5 million, with an interest rate of four per cent per annum on the reducing balance.

However, Shaw Nicholson said, “borrowers can also utilise other loan facilities available at JNSBL to further support project implementation where needed”.

The line of credit is one of two financing mechanisms under the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience. The other is the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCAF) that is being administered by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ).

The SCCAF finances adaptation and disaster risk-reduction projects and cover associated programme management cost.

It is accessible by community-based organisations, other civil-society groups and select public-sector agencies specifically for “clearly defined high-priority activities, particularly related to building the resilience of the natural environment and contributing to livelihoods protection and poverty reduction”, according to project documents.

The EFJ recently awarded 18 grants to the tune of $84.9 million to undertake projects designed to boost the ability of communities to respond to climate change threats.

Counted among those threats are increased and/or more severe extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts, which destroy agricultural and tourism livelihoods.

Climate change also brings warmer temperatures, which, too, have negative implications for not only human livelihoods but also marine life. This is given, as one example, the negative effects of increased sea surface temperatures on coral reefs.

It is a look at these implications that, at least in part, provides the basis of JNSBL’s decision to pursue administration of the line of credit under the PPCR.

“Increasingly, agro-related activities were experiencing negative changes in production yield, both in quality and quantity, which affected their ability to earn as per usual. We, therefore, wanted to assist with educating our clients and staff on matters of climate change and assist them to obtain the systems and techniques necessary to adequately respond to matters of climatic variability,” Shaw Nicholson said.

“JNSBL is also cognisant of the wider threat climate change poses to food security and as a part of our own mandate to support economic sustainability, JNSBL wanted to provide well needed support to the MSME sector to adequately mitigate and adapt for sustainability,” she added.

Gleaner

A JPS workman installs power lines in the Springfield housing development in Clarendon on August 17, 2016. The Jamaican Government plans to divest its near 20 per cent holdings in the power utility.
Opposition spokesman on mining and energy, Phillip Paulwell, says if the Government divests its nearly 20 per cent stake in Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) at this time, the asset would fetch the least possible value.

However, Dennis Chung, the chief executive officer of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), says if Government wants to divest its shares in JPS it might make sense, noting the valuation of the shares would be based on future prospects of the business.

Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, delivering the Throne Speech in Parliament on February 9, said the Government will this year begin the process of privatising its minority shareholding in JPS.

“The Government will take steps to ensure that there is broad retail and institutional participation and Jamaican owners in the divestment process,” he said, adding that an enterprise team will be appointed to lead it.

JPS is primarily owned by Marubeni of Japan and Korea East West Power Company, each of which holds 40 per cent interest.

Paulwell said the Government’s expressed plan to offload its shares in the power utility “doesn’t mean it’s going to happen as we have seen from last year’s Throne Speech”.

Notwithstanding that, “I am opposed to the divestment of the shares at this time because we would get the least possible value on those assets in JPS, largely because everybody is aware that 290 megawatt of JPSCo capacity will become scrap metal in a matter of time when the new 190MW plant is established.”

The 190MW plant to which he referred is the proposed gas-fired power station at Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine, on which construction is slated to start in early March.

“For me, the Government should participate in the new 190 (megawatt) plant which will preserve and enhance its value, and after that plant has been established, that’s the time you can think about selling the shares,” Paulwell told the Financial Gleaner.

$2-billion debt

“If you were to sell the shares now, we would end up not getting much because we owe JPSCo so much money now; so nothing will go to the government’s coffers, because any money we make from the sale will have to go and clear our debt with JPS,” he said.

He noted that the Government currently owes the JPS more than $2 billion in bills, including for street lighting.

“So if it were to sell the shares now it will be at a depressed value. The net effect would not mean anything coming into Government’s coffers,” said the energy spokesman.

What the Government needs to do is to participate fully in construction of the 190-megawatt plant, Paulwell said. “It will cost them about US$20 million in equity,” he said, noting that for that plant, the JPS has a 20-year power purchase agreement which guarantees that project a significant rate of return on the investment for 20 years.

“That is one of the safest investments you could make. Why would the Government not be a part of that? And at that time it could contemplate on how to dispose of its shares,” said Paulwell.

“And, in any event, if it’s going to do that, the Jamaican people must be the people to whom those shares are sold,” he said.

Chung indicated that in making the decision to divest its shares in JPS, the Government must know what is happening.

He said he did not see it as a big deal to divest the shares and make Jamaicans a part of the ownership.

Referring to Paulwell’s opposition to the sale at this time, Chung noted that valuation of the shares would be done based on what is expected in terms of business.

“If you know, for example, that you have a contract to sell twice what you sold this year, then you can build that knowledge into the valuation,” he said, adding that the valuation would also be based on future prospects.

He noted that shares are traded at a price-earnings ratio and sometimes can be valued at many times more than the book value of an entity.

“So it’s based on information that people have,” he said, adding that if investors believe they are going to make a killing “out of this thing, going forward, then you value the shares accordingly”.

Gleaner

The Governor General said the Government will seek to ensure that Jamaicans have ownership in the island’s sole electricity generation and distribution company, Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS)

Sir Patrick disclosed this morning that the Administration will this year sell its remaining stake in JPS.

The Government owns 19.9 per cent of the light and power company.

The Governor General said an enterprise team is to be set up to lead the divestment.

The opposition has objected to the Government’s divestment of its JPS shares.

Opposition Spokesman on Energy, Phillip Paulwell, has described the move as ill-advised and untimely.

Paulwell argued that the sale would deprive the company of the opportunity to maximise the expected increase in its assets.

Gleaner