One of the last projects I was working on when I left Worldwatch earlier this year was a revamp of the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS). We finished the original version of this report back in 2013. Progress having been made, it was time to refresh it and the Climate and Energy team recently submitted the updated product.
The Energy Office of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) has been pushing hard for a regional strategy to increase the presence of renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase energy efficiency gains. This report was a first look at how that might be done and what levels the region as a whole might achieve. Back in 2013 we proposed an aggressive regional target of 47% of the region’s energy coming from renewable sources by 2027. (We were asked to look forward from a 2012 starting point by fifteen years. Hence the non-round number.) Emissions reductions, particularly in the transportation sector, and efficiency gains were more difficult to estimate, though we believed that 30% each are not beyond reach. Regardless, the renewable energy target was adopted as official CARICOM policy, and we’re extremely proud of that.
Achieving any type of policy goal is always difficult, especially if you’re hoping to coordinate the actions of multiple sovereign nations who do not share contiguous borders, are of varying size, and have different resources at their disposal. St. Lucia, for all of its geothermal potential, could feasibly reach a 100% renewable energy goal much faster than, say, Jamaica. However, the latter is larger in size with a larger economy, which gives it different levers to pull in the quest for a more sustainable future. Further, all of these countries already have some form of long range plan for sustainable energy development so any new planning needs to be sensitive to that.
I, for one, am eternally optimistic about Caribbean islands achieving the type of sustainable energy goals most countries can only dream of. They’ve got the resources, the spirit, and the drive to make it happen. They also have the sense of urgency given the growing threats of climate change. There are many smart people working on these issues and I think fully implementing the types of targets set out in the C-SERMS report is really only a matter of time.