US Launches Initiative To Help Caricom Fight Climate Crisis, Invest In Clean Energy

(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Caribbean nations have been offered improved access to funding to fight the effects of climate change and invest in clean energy projects, through an initiative by the United States to address energy security and climate crisis within the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

The US-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030), announced by US Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday when she met with regional leaders on the sidelines of the ongoing ninth Summit of the Americas, focuses on reducing island nations’ dependence on energy imports.

It will support Caribbean countries’ energy infrastructure and climate-resilient projects from beginning to end.

However, no details about the level of the US investment in the project were forthcoming.

In announcing the initiative, Harris said the climate issue remains an existential crisis for the entire planet, as she acknowledged that “the Caribbean is on the frontline of the crisis”.

She said the US will work with regional countries to identify new clean energy projects and will provide technical assistance to ensure the projects are viable and appealing to investors.

“We will bring them [investors] on road shows to showcase and we will improve access to development financing which will make these projects a reality. We will engage with the private sector at every stage of this work because their involvement is essential to making this productive and meaningful,” Harris assured the Caribbean leaders.

The US Vice President said when the transition to clean energy is accelerated, economic opportunities for the entire region would be unlocked.

“When we work together to address this urgent threat, it benefits the people of the United States and the people of the Caribbean and all of us of course benefit by reducing emission,” she said.

Caricom’s Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett said energy security in the Caribbean is a critical matter as countries seek to transition their energy systems to more modern, clean and reliable supplies of renewable energy.

She noted that member states are heavily dependent on fossil fuels for energy needs, and are predominantly net energy importers.

“Our position is to optimise our indigenous sources as we make that judicious transition to renewable resources. We are, therefore, pleased to have this conversation. We are aware that our own public sector’s fiscal constraints limit the extent to which our governments can finance a transition to renewable resource and therefore the undertaking to provide sources of financing that our private sector can access is very important,” she said.

Dr Barnett said the devastating COVID-19 pandemic had also impacted the Caribbean’s energy and resilience and the climate crisis.

The US government said PACC 2030 will serve as its primary mechanism for regional climate adaptation and resilience and energy cooperation through 2030, as it works toward meeting the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To achieve these objectives, PACC 2030 will organise its activities and programmes under four pillars: improving access to development financing, facilitating clean energy project development and investment, enhancing local capacity building, and deepening collaboration with Caribbean partners.

“Recognising that access to financing is critical to achieving the region’s climate and clean energy objectives, PACC 2030 will work to expand existing access to project financing and unlock new financing mechanisms to support climate and clean energy infrastructure development in the region,” the US government said.

“Key actions under this pillar will include increasing US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) financing for climate and clean energy projects in underserved Caribbean countries, as well as collaborating with multilateral development banks (MDBs) and multilateral climate and environmental trust funds to improve the policy environment and unlock access to additional infrastructure financing, for the Caribbean,” the US government continued.

To attract private investment in clean energy infrastructure and climate adaptation projects in the region, PACC 2030 will support the development of bankable infrastructure projects, promote sound regulatory policies, build project pipelines, and facilitate investment opportunities.

This will include the establishment of a new PACC 2030 Investment Facilitation Team and a new PACC 2030 Technical Assistance Programme that can help mobilise private investment and partner with electric utilities and regulators to integrate more clean energy into Caribbean power and transportation systems.

According to the government, PACC 2030 will increase access to and effective utilisation of climate and weather information and decision-support tools to enhance local capacity to assess, plan for, predict, mitigate, and respond to extreme weather events and related risks.

Additionally, it will establish clean energy and climate-focused educational exchanges, internships, and training to support pathways to careers in climate adaptation and clean energy. Key actions under this pillar will include providing access to global climate data and new forecasting tools, as well as expanding the 100,000 Strong in the Americas public-private partnership to the Caribbean.

The US government has promised that under the initiative it collaborate with the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation; participate in the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Forum to elevate technical engagement on clean energy and transportation development in the region; and collaborate with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the Regional Security System, and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology on climate adaptation and resilience issues.