Beckles: Policy, law coming to reduce greenhouse gases

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Planning and Development Minister Pennelope Beckles – SUREASH CHOLAI

AS the world continues to work towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, Minister of Planning and Development Pennelope Beckles said Trinidad and Tobago was between a rock and a hard place, being both a vulnerable state and an energy emitter.

Speaking on day two of the Energy Chamber’s TT energy conference, themed Leveraging the Industry’s Strengths for the Energy Transition, she said TT was, however, pushing towards mitigating greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

“There is a maxim in law that says, ;He who comes to equity must come with clean hands.’

“We therefore cannot advocate for support to deal with our climate vulnerability, while in the same breath saying that our emissions are relatively small, and we should not be making ambitious efforts to ‘green’ our economy. This would be untenable.”

Beckles reiterated TT was actively pursuing its nationally determined contribution (NDC) to reduce cumulative emissions from the three main emitting sectors – power generation, industry and transport – by 15 per cent by 203o.

At the COP 26 climate conference, TT also committed to increasing its use of renewable energy to 30 per cent by 203o, she said, as part of its role and responsibility to the cause.

Through policy and legislative changes, Beckles said, a framework for mandatory GHG reporting aimed at domestic tracking and international accounting was necessary.

She said the ministry was looking into a carbon-pricing mechanism and framework which would achieve the NDCs in the short and long term and deliver sustainable economic, environmental, health and socio-economic benefits.

“Carbon pricing can be uniquely customised to fit the circumstances of TT. This is therefore a very exciting area for TT as we continue to spearhead new and innovative ways to leverage finance and address climate change.

“As we progress, we hope to engage all stakeholders to explore the feasibility and finalise a mechanism for carbon pricing.” To complement this initiative, she said, a policy framework was being developed to participate in the voluntary carbon market under the Paris Agreement, and had had significant interest from the private sector.

Beckles said the Environmental Management Authority was charged with executing the project, with oversight by the Ministry of Planning and Development.

“To this end, TT has been one of the pioneering developing countries to have designed and operationalised a monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system. It is the first of its kind in the region and featured as a best practice/case study regionally and internationally.

“The Government successfully accessed a grant of approximately US$1 million under the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to execute a project to strengthen the MRV system and ensure its enhanced transparency framework compliance under the Paris Agreement.”

Among the projects for 2022, she said, were constructing BP Lightsource to add 112.5 megawatts of solar energy to the national electricity grid, in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, and finalising a feed-in tariff policy and implementation plan to allow residential and commercial entities to set up small-scale grid-tied installations of renewable energy.