Trinidad and Tobago must reach net zero and promote economic growth

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Minister of Planning and Development, Camille Robinson-Regis. –

Trinidad and Tobago is caught between a rock and a hard place, says Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis in her drive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and promote economic growth .

Speaking at the Energy Chamber’s 2022 Caribbean Sustainable Energy Conference on Tuesday, Robinson-Regis said the reality that TT was an oil and gas-based economy meant that the economic impacts of Reduced income due to reduced demand for fossil fuels can have a serious impact on the prospects for economic growth.

She said TT must find ways to meet its commitment to the Paris Agreement and sustain its economy through diversification and climate investment. “The TT, as a carbon-intensive economy, therefore also has an obligation to diversify and decarbonise its economy in order to meet the obligations of the Paris Agreement. The government has recognized that the global energy transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable and well underway, in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, and that TT, to be part of this transition if it does not want to be left for account, must therefore continue board of directors urgently.

She said that while the change will bring unforeseen socio-economic impacts, the government has identified and recognized the importance of creating a supportive work environment through its Just Labor Transition Policy.

The policy hopes to deliver substantial economic and social benefits, mitigating and preventing the social and economic disruption of a low-carbon transition, as well as potentially creating new jobs and new types of sustainable work, said Robinson Regis.

“This would provide the policy framework not only to create the green workforce, but also to facilitate the retooling, reskilling and re-education of the existing workforce, much of which comes from the energy industries. , in order to take advantage of emerging opportunities. and minimize the potential consequences of unemployability.

“The draft policy outlines the steps needed to facilitate TT’s smooth transition to a low-carbon economy while creating opportunities for the workforce currently engaged in the carbon-intensive oil and gas sector. . In addition, the policy aims to enable a low-carbon development path, while reducing the negative impact on affected workers, assisting vulnerable and marginalized groups in society, and encouraging investment and education. into new low-carbon technologies and pathways that will benefit the nation. .”

Robinson-Regis said diversification and investment in green hydrogen was a win-win situation for all stakeholders and was a key example of how TT could maintain and increase its competitiveness in the petrochemical sector.

One area for future and potential trade deals was the European Green Deal, she pointed out, which was about to implement border carbon adjustment measures such as a tax on imports of goods. based on the carbon content of its raw materials and manufacturing processes.

“As the fourth-largest fertilizer exporter to the European Union and a prolific user of so-called gray hydrogen extracted from natural gas – a fossil fuel – to make ammonia, TT is therefore likely to attract a border carbon tax Producing green hydrogen from water using renewable energy will not only reduce or exempt our products from these taxes, but also increase the chances of achieving high international prices.

“Using this method not only preserves some of our petrochemical industries, but can also open up other business areas such as hydrogen as a shipping fuel for export. Other manufacturing opportunities reside in renewable energy components such as solar panels or wind turbines, high-efficiency light-emitting diodes or LED bulbs, among other examples.TT is already well placed in this regard with an infrastructure and workforce already advanced.

Robinson-Regis said the role of government is to facilitate the required policy and enabling environment to attract such investment and with the recently passed Special Economic Zones Bill, provision for special concessions will be given to manufacturing business in special geographies, which includes clean technologies.

The Ministry of Planning and Development, responsible for the environment and climate change, is currently revising the national policy on climate change to incorporate the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement, as well as the latest scientific evidence.

It also coordinates the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and an investment plan to guide activities to achieve it.

The Ministry of Energy and Power Industries and bp Lightsource were due to implement a 112.2MW solar project for the national power grid this year and finalize a feed-in tariff policy and plan to enable energy installations small-scale renewables connected to the grid by the residences. and business entities.

Both of these projects, Robinson-Regis said, should meet the 10% renewable energy target the government had previously set.

TT has committed in its NDC to reducing overall cumulative emissions from power generation, industry and transport by 15% by 2030, which equates to 103,000,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents of carbon.

Additionally, TT has also pledged to unconditionally reduce its public transport emissions by 30% by 2030.

Robinson-Regis said the estimated cost to achieve this goal was $2 billion, which was to be met by domestic funding and conditional or international funding, including through the Green Climate Fund.

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