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The effort to mainstream gender in climate change considerations while cementing the place of women in decision-making in that arena has a supporter in Dr James Fletcher, recent head of the CARICOM Task Force on Sustainable Development.

“Women are disproportionately affected by climate change, particularly in small-island developing states. Anytime here in Saint Lucia, if there is a drought, the people you see going miles to collect water are not the men, it is the women because they are the ones who, unfortunately, have the children on their hands and the household on their hands,” he noted.

“So women are always the ones who are disproportionately affected by natural disasters, and I think there must be some sensitivity in funding to the fact that there is a gender imbalance in the impacts of climate change and other natural disasters,” Fletcher added.

He was speaking with journalists at the Marrakech Climate Talks in November last year on the issue of a lack of funding to support the gender work programme that emerged from the Lima Climate Talks two years earlier.

Decisions in that work programme include:

– To enhance the implementation of the decision to promote gender balance and improve the participation of women in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations and in the representation of parties in bodies established in line with the Convention or the Kyoto Protocol; and

– that additional efforts be made by parties to the convention to improve the participation of women in their delegations and in all of the bodies established under the convention.

Among other things, it also invites parties to advance gender balance and promote gender sensitivity in developing and implementing climate policy and achieve gender-responsive climate policy in all relevant activities under the UNFCCC.

However, in Marrakech – as in Lima – it emerged that financing to achieve the provisions of the work programme is a challenge.

Fletcher’s advice to the women and gender constituency is to press ahead with their efforts.

“The thing with some of these discussions is it takes a while for common sense to prevail. So things you think people would get immediately, they don’t, and you must have a lot of back and forth. But I think that is the nature of the multilateral process. People come with different agendas, different perspectives,” he said.

CONTINUING THE PROCESS

“It really speaks to the need to continue having faith in the process, to continue pressing the line, and continue developing a coalition and seeking out allies and seeing how you can get support,” added Fletcher, who is also the former sustainable development minister for Saint Lucia.

He revealed that this is what had happened in the small island developing states’ effort to have the world take up the issue of loss and damage associated with climate change.

“When we started out with loss and damage, loss and damage was quintessentially a small-island state issue, and then suddenly, other people realised ok, there is a lot of merit in this, and we started developing allies and having more people come and support our cause,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that on a gender issue you need to go in that way because you figure anybody should realise that is an issue. But I think, probably, it is one of these areas where we need to do more work and where we need to do more sensitisation and make people understand the imperative of making sure that the funding is gender sensitive,” Fletcher noted.

Gleaner

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) says at least 20,000 customers are still without power due to the impact of heavy winds across Jamaica.

The heavy winds are being caused by a Cold Front which is affecting the island.

Corporate Communications Officer at the JPS, Audrey Williams, says the restoration efforts by work crews are being hampered by the windy conditions.

Williams says the majority of the customers who are still without electricity are in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine.

 Noting that the company’s customer care centre has been inundated by telephone calls, Williams says the JPS is appealing to customers for patience as it works to restore electricity.

 

Lest we forget, Jamaica has been trying to strike deals to migrate to liquefied natural gas (LNG), and failing at it spectacularly, for well over a decade.

It all began four prime ministers ago, when Percival James Patterson was in charge and sought to broker a deal with his counterpart, Patrick Manning, in Trinidad in 2001. And we knew Patterson was serious about the issue, because that time he did not form a committee around it.

Still, it didn’t end well. Trinidad began to waffle – after all, it could get better prices for its fossil elsewhere. Jamaica wanted concessionary pricing for a yearly 1.1 million tonnes of natural gas as a family member in Caricom, but Trinidad was in favour of the hub. Business, after all, is business.

Patterson even put a dedicated man in charge of the LNG programme. That didn’t help. And since then, almost every effort at adding gas to the energy mix has coagulated. You know you have a problem when international headlines pop up asking, ‘Is Jamaica’s Energy Cursed?’

To recap, the actors in Jamaica’s LNG serialised melodrama have included Anthony Hylton, James Robertson, Clive Mullings, Christopher Zacca, Phillip Paulwell, Kelly Tomblin, Exmar, Caribbean LNG, Azurest, Energy World International, Jamaica Public Service Company and now Abengoa SA. Perhaps the only clairvoyant in the mix was Mullings, who, back in 2008, began touting coal as a more practical choice for diluting the viscosity of oil on Jamaica’s balance of payments, given the vagaries of supply in the LNG market.

Not everyone loved the idea. The thought of coal was a bit dirty, and risky, but it wasn’t entirely dismissed. Fracking has now changed that dynamic somewhat.

In 2014, some 13 years since the Patterson-Manning bro-pact and a decade after the more formalised LNG heads of agreement, ESET emerged as the latest reset when current Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller reached out to an old and trusted ally of Patterson’s – Dr Vincent ‘Head of Kitchen Cabinet’ Lawrence – to bring an end to the confusion that had become Jamaica’s energy policy.

Being a glutton for punishment, Jamaica held on to its LNG ambitions, but also opened up to proposals for coal, compressed gas, and natural liquid gases such as ethane and propane.

Blame it on the cosmos

But even the doc, despite the heavenly moniker that had been bestowed on him in the past, has been no match for the supremacy of Murphy’s law, or whatever it is in the cosmos that appears to want Jamaica to stay wedded to crude. First, the American Ethane/UC Rusal arrangement fell apart – which Lawrence insisted would not derail the 2018 schedule to begin cutting electricity prices – and now there is Abengoa.

Right about now, JPS boss Kelly Tomblin likely has fingers crossed, hoping that New Fortress Energy won’t throw up any surprises; that the arrangement with the American company to supply gas to JPS’ Montego Bay plant will – please, oh please – go right.

General Electric is currently retrofitting Bogue for LNG – a US$22.54-million project that seems to escaped the curse – and Fortress Energy is to start delivering gas by mid-2016. The final terms of the Fortress engagement are now being negotiated.

Before the LNG project was revised from a 360MW single project and split into bite-size pieces under ESET, JPS itself had tried to take on the task under a US$600-million plan that went nowhere. The power utility was said to have a financing revolver lined up but could not secure the gas supplies at the right price.

Under the reset, JPS has two projects to execute – the 120MW Bogue project in Montego Bay for which it has contracted New Fortress, and the 190MW project in Old Harbour Bay. For the latter, JPS reportedly got several bids but chose Abengoa SA, which just days later filed for bankruptcy protection to restructure billions of debt.

Somebody hadn’t done their homework. One would have thought that JPS’s foreign parents Korea East West Power Company and Marubeni – both of which operate in the energy field – would have the temperature of another big energy player. But it appears that they, and the JPS consultants, did not.

Still, Tomblin and team appear to have other options were Abengoa to falter. The Spanish company has four months to right the ship, a timetable that collides with JPS’, which wants to start site prep for the Old Harbour plant by March in order to keep its 2018 commitment. Right about now, JPS is probably reinvestigating the other bidders, hopefully using a different set of consultants than the ones who delivered up the embarrassment of Abengoa.

Old Harbour is an important project for Tomblin, who wants her legacy at the Jamaican utility to be one of transformation. She got a Jamaican power generator and distributor to run, but she wants to leave it as a ‘gas and electric utility’ with a role in developing a regional gas supply hub for the Caribbean market. Old Harbour would be the fulcrum, assuming it gets built.

With Bogue and Old Harbour in play, around a third of base load capacity would be fired by gas, a cleaner and, as important, cheaper fuel source that will allow JPS to produce and supply electricity to the grid at a price below 13 US cents per kilowatt-hour, and knock 1.2 million barrels of oil off the country’s annual orders of crude.

Still, Murphy’s law is tenacious, which means that all Jamaica can do is pray that the stars will finally align in its favour and that the energy gods are in affinity with Vin.

The Gleaner

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The Petrojam oil refinery in Kingston. Venezuela supplies oil to Jamaica under the PetroCaribe agreement. - File
The Petrojam oil refinery in Kingston. Venezuela supplies oil to Jamaica under the PetroCaribe agreement. – File

Venezuela’s oil production is poised to reverse a dramatic decline that has seen exports fall by nearly half during

 

ELECTRICITY bills will jump 18 per cent for the average residential customer this month, returning them to their usual levels. After customers benefitted from a one-off, US$3.8-million ($340 million) fuel rebate from Petrojam, a new heat rate target and lower oil prices last month, the fuel rate has returned to levels seen up to July this year.

 

Omar Azan... of Boss Furniture, is retooling foam equipment and changing lighting equipment throughout his factory.

 

On Wednesday, The Gleaner hosted an editors’ forum with members of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA). The topics discussed were: ways to grow the sector and issues affecting manufacturing as well as what the manufacturers were expecting out of the new Budget.

Participants were: Brian Pengelley, JMA president; Metry Seaga, deputy president, JMA; Omar Azan, immediate past president, JMA; Gary ‘Butch’ Hendrickson, CEO, Continental Baking Company; Steven Whittingham, director, JMA and Michael Ranglin, CEO for GK Foods.

One of the issues affecting local manufacturers is the high cost of electricity. While policymakers still drag their feet on implementing strategies and initiatives to ease the burden on the sector, some manufacturers are taking small but tangible steps to decrease energy consumption in their plants. See how they are doing.

Steven Whittingham says that at Island Ice and Beverage Company Limited they have opted to do off-peak manufacturing late in the nights when the Jamaica Public Service rates are lower.

Metry Seaga of Jamaica Fibreglass Products (JFP), is now making plans to install a solar system in his entire factory.

Michael Ranglin of GK Foods is now in collaboration with the the University of the West Indies Department of Physics to develop and install energy saving systems for all its buildings.

Butch Hendrickson of Continental Baking Company has carried out extensive replacement of oven burners, changed lighting systems, insulated buildings and bought more efficient vehicles

Omar Azan of Boss Furniture is now retooling the foam equipment and changing the lighting equipment throughout his factory.

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