Tag: Environment

Thousands of photovoltaic panels across the UK generate 8.7GW, smashing previous high of 8.48GW earlier this month

Woman relaxes on deckchair in London.

Solar power has broken new records in the UK by providing nearly a quarter of the country’s electricity needs, thanks to sunny skies and relatively low summer demand.

National Grid said the thousands of photovoltaic panels on rooftops and in fields across the UK were generating 8.7GW, or 24.3% of demand at 1pm on Friday, smashing the previous high of 8.48GW earlier this month.

Experts said the unprecedented share for solar energy meant about 60% of the UK’s power was low carbon, taking into account Britain’s wind farms and nuclear power stations too. That figure is normally around 50%.

National Grid, which is tasked with ensuring a match between supply and demand for electricity, said it was excited but unfazed by the challenge of accommodating “significant volumes” of renewables.

Solar provided a record percentage of UK power at 1pm on 26 May 2017
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Duncan Burt, who manages day-to-day operation of the grid, said: “We have planned for these changes to the energy landscape and have the tools available to ensure we can balance supply and demand.”

Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace, said: “Today’s new record is a reminder of what the UK could achieve if our government reversed its cuts to support for solar, and backed the clean technologies that could provide jobs, business opportunities and plentiful clean energy for decades to come.”

The milestone reached on Friday is the latest in a series of records for solar, which has grown from almost nothing seven years ago to 12GW of capacity today. Last summer it provided more power than the UK’s last 10 coal-fired power stations.

In April this year, Britain achieved its first-ever full working day without coal powersince it started burning the fuel in 1882, thanks in part to solar energy.

Solar’s rapid growth is overturning conventions for the managers of the UK’s power grid. In March, for the first time ever, the amount of electricity demanded by homes and businesses in the afternoon was lower than it was in the night, thanks to the cut in demand due to solar panels.

Alastair Buckley, a solar expert at the University of Sheffield, said of the latest record: “I think it’s a positive sign. It’s free electricity today, for the consumer, and we should make the most of it.”

Solar power generation in the UK
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He said that with solar continuing to be installed despite the government’s drastic subsidy cuts in 2016, further records will certainly be broken this summer and for years to come.

Buckley said the grid could handle a far greater proportion of solar power than currently seen, because gas power stations could be ramped down. For National Grid, periods of high pressure bringing lovely weather to the UK like this week were: “really predictable, so easy to plan for,” Buckley said.

Robert Gross of Imperial College said: “This doesn’t pose fundamental problem for the grid – many sunnier countries manage a similar proportion of solar on a much more regular basis.”

Government statistics published on Thursday show that UK solar power capacity has grown from 11.3GW in April last year to 12.1GW this year, enough to power 3.8m homes.

Guardian graphic | Source: MyGridGB
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.

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Dr Orville Grey (right) in action at the international negotiating table

JAMAICA CONTINUES to occupy positions of influence in the global architecture designed to work in the interest of climate change security for all, and in particular developing countries.

Just over a month ago, Dr Orville Grey, senior technical officer responsible for adaptation in the Climate Change Division, was elected co-chair of the Executive Committee (Excom) of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM).

He, along with Monika Antosik of Poland, was elected at the fifth meeting of the Excom, held in Bonn, Germany, between March 21 and 24.

The WIM was established at the 19th meeting of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Warsaw in 2013.

Its mandate is “to address loss and damage associated with impacts of climate change, including extreme events and slow onset events, in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change”, according to the UNFCCC website.

Its specific functions include:

– Enhancing knowledge and understanding of comprehensive risk management approaches to address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including slow onset impacts;

– Strengthening dialogue, coordination, coherence and synergies among relevant stakeholders; and

– Enhancing action and support, including finance, technology and capacity building, to address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.

Clifford Mahlung, a meteorologist and seasoned climate change negotiator, representing small-island developing states, has been appointed co-chair of the Adaptation Committee.

The Adaptation Committee was established in 2010, as part of the Cancun Adaptation Framework “to promote the implementation of enhanced action on adaptation in a coherent manner under the Convention”.

Its functions include:

– Providing technical support and guidance to the parties to the UNFCCC and sharing relevant information, knowledge, experience and good practices;

– Promoting synergy and strengthening engagement with national, regional and international organisations, centres and networks; and

– Considering information communicated by parties on their monitoring and review of adaptation actions, support provided and received.

“Jamaica is doing its part to ensure that the bodies of the convention and now the Paris Agreement will work to the full benefit of the parties and that we have our interest being represented at the highest level,” Mahlung told The Gleaner.

Added Grey: “It continues to show Jamaica as a leader on important issues. In this context, it is something related to climate change and provides us with an opportunity to shape what is happening in that debate and gives first-hand options to include something from loss and damage into our own national policies.”

Neither would take any personal credit for their appointments.

“It shows the confidence that has been placed in me by my developing country colleagues, in particular the members of the SIDS, who I represent, and the developing countries on the whole who appointed me to be elected as their co-chair,” said Mahlung, whose appointment also became effective in March.

Grey indicated that his new role is indicative of “the confidence of SIDS in championing the case of something that is critical to our future, which is the impact of loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change”.

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JAMAICA’S Professor Michael Taylor has made the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) team, tasked to deliver what is a vital report for the Caribbean and other small island developing states (SIDS), in the fight against global climate change.

Taylor was invited to serve as one of three coordinating lead authors for the third chapter of a special report on 1.5 degrees Celsius as a global greenhouse gas emissions target.

The IPCC was mandated to produce that report, largely through lobby efforts led over years by SIDS, in the race to curtail emissions that fuel the changing climate that could devastate them.

“Chapter three merges what happens with the physical impacts of climate change, like changes in temperature, rainfall, and so on, with the impacts on ecosystems, natural systems and on human beings,” Taylor, a celebrated local physicist and head of the Climate Studies Group Mona, told The Gleaner on Tuesday.

“It is actually the first time they are merging those two things in one chapter. Normally, it would be Working Group I (WGI) looking at the physical side and WGII on the physical impact. Chapter three now will look at both the scientific basis for 1.5 and what are the impacts on managed systems as well as human beings,” he added.

Taylor is joined by two other coordinating lead authors and a team of 20 lead authors to deliver that chapter.

“We will also coop contributing authors with special expertise as needed to lead the authorship of that chapter,” noted the head of the Physics Department at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

Taylor’s research interests include understanding and quantifying the Caribbean region’s vulnerability to climate change.

Quizzed as to his feeling on being asked to serve, the scientist said: “It is a real honour; I appreciate the honour.

“It is not just an honour for me personally, but also for Caribbean science that it is being recognised in such a way. But it is an overwhelming task that is being asked so I also feel extremely overwhelmed but extremely grateful for the recognition,” he added.

 

GLOBAL RESPONSE

 

The historic Paris Agreement, which charts the course for the global response to climate change, looks to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels” and pursue “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 inclusion of 1.5 was hard-fought-for by Caribbean and other SIDS aided by the regional campaign dubbed “1.5 To Stay Alive”.

The campaign run primarily in the lead-up to and during the 2015 climate talks in Paris where the agreement was adopted involved regional players such as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, communication NGO Panos Caribbean, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Saint Lucia Ministry of Sustainable Development, the Regional Council of Martinique, and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

 

SPECIAL INTEREST

 

Among other things, it saw the establishment of a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account to promote Caribbean negotiating positions and to expose the region’s climate challenges all the while calling for the holding of temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

A theme song the collaborative effort of Caribbean artistes, including Panos’ Voices for Climate Change Education’s singer Aaron Silk was also released.

“The 1.5 is a kind of threshold of viability for small islands going into the future. So this report, I think, the small islands have a special interest in because it will be the report that evaluates whether the case they are making is a good case,” Taylor said of the review work to be done in the coming months.

“And the case they are making is not just for them, but a global case. This is the report that is kind of the backbone of the aspirational goal of the Paris Agreement,” he added.

Nobel laureate Professor Anthony Chen, who was recognised for his own contributions to climate research through the IPCC, had high praise for Taylor.

“Professor Taylor is an excellent person to lead the project and I have every confidence in him,” said Chen, a mentor to the professor, whom he taught at university and who succeeded him as head of the Climate Studies Group Mona.

“I was very glad for him. He had asked me what I thought and I told him, ‘go for it’. It puts the Caribbean on the map that they should be for the 1.5 project. This is sort of a late registration of that fact,” he added.

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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.”

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From left: Renford Smith, Marcus Grant and Alan Searchwell connecting the electrical components of a solar panel at the Wigton Renewable Energy Training Lab in Rose Hill, Manchester, recently.

As the debate intensifies over the possible rate increases which could face Jamaicans as more and more customers leave the Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS) grid, there are calls for a collaborative approach to the issue.

Manager of the Grid Performance Department at the JPS, Lincoy Small, says the various stakeholders must engage in dialogue to find an approach to provide the cheapest source of electricity to Jamaicans.

According to Small, it cannot be a matter of either renewable energy (RE) or staying on the JPS grid but a combination of the two.

“JPS is not telling people that renewable is not the way to go, because JPS even operates renewable facilities, but the key thing is to get them (grid and RE) working together in tandem to come up with the best synergy of what is best for the customer and what is best for the country,” said Small.

His comments came as Robert Wright, president of the Jamaica Solar Energy Association, told The Sunday Gleaner he has no desire for Jamaicans to leave the JPS grid.

Grid Stability

Wright said he strongly believes RE should be maximised and not just limited to large systems scattered across the island, but smaller systems distributed right across the country.

“When you have these smaller systems spread across the country it provides for better grid stability, and also it allows for more people to participate in clean energy as opposed to simply relying on large solar farms,” said Wright.

But Small said, based on experience due to the unpredictability of RE, the JPS sometimes has to resort to load shedding when customers jump on and off the grid.

He reiterated that JPS’s customers could face additional cost if the impact of RE on the grid is not handled carefully.

“So we are accepting solar power from the customers and as soon as something happens it drops off, and does so much quicker than the grid can even respond on some of those occasions, and as a result you have to be running expensive machines that are quicker to deal with those sun drop-offs or have to shed people’s light,” argued Small.

“And if you run these expensive machines or shed people’s light it means the overall cost to run the grid is going to be absorbed by the customer; you are going to have to pay for a more expensive energy source.”

The JPS executive said the company is actively seeking to incorporate new technology to deal with the loss of the intermittent renewable resources.

But Wright argued that the good news for Jamaicans is that the cost of RE is declining rapidly, enabling it to compete with traditional sources of energy.

“A system that a typical household would need in Jamaica two years ago would cost $1 million; that same system today cost $500,000, so we have seen a significant drop in prices,” said Wright.

“Also what is revolutionary is that the cost of batteries has gone down a lot, so now, even more than before, we will be able to offer that to residential customers at an affordable price.

“What is becoming more available now are systems called micro-inverters, and these allow you to install a very simple rooftop system which is cheaper, faster to install and is more appropriate for affordable housing developments, and so on.”

Batteries Expensive

But Small countered that with solar and wind on average only available for 20 and 35 per cent of the day, respectively, and the cost of buying and replacing batteries being expensive, it might be cheaper for customers to get their power from the JPS grid when RE is not available.

“It (solar) is a good thing to have, but it cannot be operated in isolation, and that is something a lot of people in the solar business not telling their customers,” said Small.

“Because even if you get a panel or a wind turbine and you get the battery, you are going to need a grid to at least charge up that battery for the 80 per cent of the time you are without solar or the 65 per cent of the time you are without wind.

“Plus, you will have to be replacing the battery every two to three years for full value, and batteries cost much more than solar panels.”

Small said the JPS is focused on supplying power as cheaply as possible so persons can take the cheap power from the grid rather than go buy a battery and use the solar power and the wind when it is available.

With Jamaica being a signatory to the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the utilisation of more RE forms part of the National Energy Policy which sees the country aiming to have 30 per cent RE penetration by 2030.

The country is currently at approximately 10 per cent of the quota, with roughly 300 net billing customers (those who have solar systems which allows them to consume energy and sell surplus) and around 10 larger customers.

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Each year, environmental pollutants cost an estimated 1.7 million lives among children under 5, according to World Health Organization reports released Monday.

The causes include unsafe water, lack of sanitation, poor hygiene practices and indoor and outdoor pollution, as well as injuries.
The new numbers equate to these pollutants being the cause of one in four deaths of children 1 month to 5 years old.
One new report highlights that the most common causes of child death are preventable through interventions already available to the communities most affected. These causes are diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia, which can be prevented using insecticide-treated bed nets, clean cooking fuels and improved access to clean water.
“A polluted environment is a deadly one — particularly for young children,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general, said in a statement. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”
Infants exposed to indoor or outdoor air pollution, including secondhand smoke, have an increased risk of pneumonia during childhood as well as an increased risk of chronic respiratory diseases — such as asthma — for the rest of their lives, one report states.
The global body also highlighted the increased risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer from exposure to air pollution.
More than 90% of the world’s population is thought to breathe air that violates quality guidelines set by the WHO.
The reports further list ways in which these risk factors can be removed to prevent disease and death.
“Investing in the removal of environmental risks to health, such as improving water quality or using cleaner fuels, will result in massive health benefits,” said Dr. Maria Neira, director of the WHO’s Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “A polluted environment results in a heavy toll on the health of our children.”
The growth of electronic and electrical waste is also a concern, according to the report. If not disposed of correctly, waste can expose children to toxins that can harm intelligence and cause attention deficits, lung damage and cancer.
Also among the fears: an increasing risk of climate change, due to rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels, boosting pollen growth and possibly asthma. An estimated 44% of asthma cases among children worldwide are thought to be related to environmental exposures, the reports say.
In addition to highlighting the burden borne by young children, the new reports suggest ways in which risk factors — and therefore death rates — can be reduced.
These include reducing air pollution, improving access to clean water and sanitation, protecting pregnant women from secondhand smoke and building safer environments in order to reduce accidents and injuries.
“Both indoor and outdoor air pollution have an important effect on the health and development of children, and not just in the stereotypical ‘polluted cities’ context but also for very poor rural families who cook indoors,” said Joy Lawn, professor of maternal reproductive and child health epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“Clean water is taken for granted by families in high-income countries, and yet those children in the hottest climates, facing the greatest risks of infectious diseases, are the very ones with least access to clean water.”
But Lawn added that pollution is not the only risk factor when it comes to child mortality.
“We also need to be careful in attributing these deaths just to dirty water or pollution,” she said. “To prevent deaths from pneumonia, we also need vaccines and antibiotics; from malaria, we also need bed nets and anti-malarials. It Is not just about pollution.”
Other potential solutions mentioned in the reports are removing mould and pests from housing, removing lead paint, ensuring sanitation and good nutrition at schools and using better urban planning to create more green spaces in cities. Safe management of industrial waste by industries is also highlighted, along with stopping the use of hazardous pesticides and child labor in agriculture.
The report “highlights the scale of the problem of how environmental pollution affects the health of children across the globe,” said John Holloway, professor of allergy and respiratory genetics at the University of Southampton. Holloway recently authored a report on the lifelong impact of air pollution.
“We must also remember that it is not just the acute effects of pollution on children’s health mentioned in the report that we need to be concerned about, it is also the potential long-term effects of exposure to pollutants in early life that can have lifelong effects on health and well-being,” he said.
Holloway also stressed that this is not a concern solely for developing countries. “Exposures such as air pollution and secondhand tobacco smoke affects the health of children in developed countries such as the UK as well,” he said.
But, like the WHO, he also stressed that things can be done to help solve the problem and said authorities and individuals should act now — as well as think long-term — to protect the health of future generations.
“We all have a responsibility for reducing environmental pollution,” he said. “This is going to require changes in society such as better monitoring of pollution and taking into account the true long-term economic cost of pollution when assessing the cost of measures to reduce environmental pollution.”
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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.

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Special Climate Change Adaptation Fund administrators from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica and beneficiaries show off the cheque representing the most recent awards at the signing ceremony last Monday.

WITH A changing climate that threatens to wash away entire communities and derail livelihoods, local civil society organisations and small businesses are being empowered to respond – with capital.

This is thanks to financing made available through the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR).

There exist two financing mechanisms, according to Dr Winsome Townsend, project manager for the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism under the PPCR.

One is the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCAF) that is being administered by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica.

The SCCAF, according to project documents, is “to finance adaptation and disaster risk-reduction projects and cover associated programme management costs”.

“Grants from this trust fund will be accessed by community-based organisations, other civil-society groups and selected public-sector agencies, for clearly defined high-priority activities, particularly related to building the resilience of the natural environment and contributing to livelihoods protection and poverty reduction,” the documents revealed.

Last Monday, the first 18 beneficiary organisations were awarded sums to the tune of $84.9 million to undertake projects designed to enhance resilience at the community level.

“There was a call for proposals in October last year and out of that, about 80 proposals were received and about half that amount were shortlisted. They were further assessed and out of that, an initial 18 were approved,” said Townsend.

“Twelve were pending approval. Those 12 have now been approved. So out of that first call, approximately 30 have been approved,” she added.

PROJECTS TO BE PURSUED

Projects to be pursued include water harvesting and greenhouses, aquaponics systems and food processing, as well as various ecosystem restoration initiatives.

Townsend said another call will be issued later this month or early March.

The second mechanism is a line of credit, intended “to provide loan financing to support adaptation measures of farmers and other businesses in the agricultural sector, and small hoteliers and other businesses in the tourism sector”.

Five projects have been approved to the tune of some $25 million, Townsend said. However, the overall level of interest in the line of credit – administered by JN Small Business Loan – is not immediately clear.

“Because it has started soft, we don’t know yet. We can’t at this time make any determination as to the level of enthusiasm,” Townsend said.

Still, she is hopeful for its success, given what is at stake.

“It is not just the Government who needs to put in measures in terms of climate change adaptation, but everybody, including citizens. Of particular interest is the private sector because businesses are under threat from climate change, and so the private sector needs to respond to these threats,” she said.

“The micro, small and medium-size businesses are at greater risk because of their capacity to respond. They are not as resilient as the more established or bigger enterprises,” Townsend noted.

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Energy minister Dr Andrew Wheatley (left) and Petroleum Coprporation of Jamaica general manager Winston Watson.

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) will be carrying out major energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at six public hospitals to reduce electricity costs under the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Deployment of Renewable Energy and Improvement of Energy Efficiency in the Public Sector Project.

The facilities slated to benefit are the National Chest Hospital and the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre in St Andrew; Bellevue Hospital in Kingston; May Pen Hospital in Clarendon; Savanna-La-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland and the Black River Hospital in St Elizabeth.

Among other things, the interventions at these institutions will involve energy audits and the installation of energy-efficient lighting, solar photovoltaic technology and solar water-heating systems, PCJ said in a release yesterday.

SPECIALISED SERVICES

The selected institutions provide specialised services to a large cross section of the population and have high capital and operational expenditure.

Assessments revealed that energy-efficiency interventions at these hospitals can achieve considerable savings which will help to achieve the PCJ’s objective of reducing the public sector’s energy spend. The infusion of renewable energy and energy-efficient technology into the hospitals’ operations is expected to reduce their collective electricity demand by 1,305,000 kWh each year, which at current rates translates to more than J$41 million in savings.

The PCJ’s general manager, Winston Watson, said: “We are pleased to partner with the UNDP on this project, since the objective of incorporating more energy-efficiency solutions into the public sector’s operations aligns perfectly with our mandate to reduce the Government’s energy bills.”

The Deployment of Renewable Energy and Improvement of Energy Efficiency in the Public Sector Project is a US$12-million initiative comprised of three components.

The energy interventions to be undertaken by the PCJ are being carried out under the third component, which focuses on economic and fiscal instruments to facilitate the uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the public sector.

Project execution under this component is projected to cost US$2.01 million, of which PCJ will provide just over US$1,360,000 and US$650,000 will come from the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund.

WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT

“We consider this a worthwhile investment for the Government and people of Jamaica as it will improve conditions in the health sector while reducing electricity costs, which will mean savings for the public sector, and we are therefore looking forward to a successful partnership with the UNDP,” Watson said.

Bruno Pouezat, UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative, said: “As we mark the official launch of this landmark project, I recall the words of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who in 2010 called for ‘a global clean energy revolution’. He added that “energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity and an environment that allows the world to thrive. We look forward to working with all of our partners in Jamaica in securing these ideals.”

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley said the public sector accounted for 15.5 per cent of total electricity sales in Jamaica in 2015.

“We are working assiduously to reduce our overall consumption and I am pleased that this project seeks to deploy renewable energy and improve energy efficiency in the public sector, as these interventions will serve to bolster our ongoing efforts to reduce the Government’s energy consumption while driving efficiency,” he added.

The Deployment of Renewable Energy and Improvement of Energy Efficiency in the Public Sector Project was officially launched on November 30, 2016. The PCJ will begin project implementation in early 2017.

Gleaner