Back in November 2007 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala, Uganda, then Prime Minister Patrick Manning expressed the concern that while Trinidad and Tobago’s release of toxic gases into the atmosphere was comparatively small, on a per capita basis, it was high.
Mr Manning was deeply concerned then that calculations of high emitters were being made on a per capita basis rather than on the extremely high total volumes of countries such as China, India, the United States and western European states. His was the recognition that with this country’s extensive energy industry and quite small population, a mere 1.3 million, we would be placed amongst the high per capita emitters.
According to data given by Minister of Planning and Development Penelope Beckles, that time has arrived. “T&T has a high per capita energy consumption which measures 5,911 kilowatt hours when compared to the world average of three thousand eighty-one kilowatt hours per capita,” the Minister said earlier this week.
In a survey done by Statista, an international agency which measures such matters, T&T ranks fourth amongst CO2 emitters in metric tonnes per capita. This lands us amongst countries such as Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, Middle Eastern countries with massive quantities of energy emissions from world-sized energy plants.
As reported by this paper, Minister Beckles noted that half of the households in this country have a consumption level on par with the North American households and nearly three times the global average.
“These are unflattering statistics coupled with the increasingly progressive international climate agenda which have encouraged the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to pursue climate action through the development of a broad climate agenda,” the Planning and Development Minister said.
As has been noted in this newspaper and elsewhere, with T&T’s main economic activity centred around the energy industry, there has to be real concern about our contribution to the international climate change disasters; which are already severely impacting.
The fact is that while we have to continue making use of the petroleum resources, we have to be conscious of our emissions footprint. So too, T&T has to meet its international commitments to keep the increase in global output of noxious fumes within the 1.5-degree C levels agreed upon in Paris.
While the increasing impacts are being felt comes the scientific analysis from the World Meteorological Organisation, in its Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update (May 2023), that it is quite likely that in one of the next five years, the crucial 1.5 C global warming threshold will be breached. If that were to happen, it stands to reason that there will be severe negative human impacts around the world.
“It will be a stark warning of what’s in store if we don’t quickly reduce emissions to net zero,” is one of the conclusions of the WMO’s Report.
At the Wind Power Generation conference in Port-of-Spain, where Minister Beckles spoke, discussions centred around the establishment of the legislative framework to facilitate the exploitation of the winds around the islands.
So too, there are a couple solar plants being developed for large industrial plants and for household usages. The time is upon us, we will not be spared the wrath of climate change.