Saturday, April 20, 2024

RIGHT OF CENTRE – No control of fossil fuel


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THE WORLD WAS AWAKENED to a new crisis in 1973 when the first oil shortage was created as the OPEC cartel decided to cut back production and created shortages.
The resultant demand, exacerbated by a steady diet of turmoil in major oil-producing states, has seen price spirals that have occasioned greater havoc in the small economies of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states, including Barbados.
Here at home, our foreign reserves position has been constantly threatened by these increases over which we have absolutely no control.
Our first response in Barbados was to encourage the establishment of a Solar Water Heating industry through tax incentives.
Though some success has been achieved in the development of the industry, we still have a long way to go when we consider that less than 50 per cent of Barbadian households still exist without solar water heating.
In 1981, the Government of Barbados under the leadership of the late J.M.G.M. “Tom” Adams made the first major decision to deal with the crisis by appointing the country’s first Minister of Energy whose major responsibility was to focus on resolving the serious problems the country faced.
Indeed, it was Tom Adams himself who made the first call for the adoption of alternative and renewable energy to mitigate the impact of actions arising in the international community over which Barbados has no control.
At the time of his observation, the price of oil was US$13 per barrel.
Ever since then, successive administrations in Barbados have hardly taken the effective steps required to resolve the crisis.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart outlined, in a major policy speech on August 30 2011, his administration’s major thrust in the area of alternative and renewable energy.
It is no secret that the Prime Minister and his team are keenly aware of the importance of energy security to our economy.
Owen Arthur, Leader of the Opposition, has noted that given the importance of energy security to our economy, he endorses the view of the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) that the sector must command bipartisan support in Barbados.
BREA, established as an NGO in May 2011, has been formed to, among other things, raise the alarm and lead the way towards the creation of a local renewable energy industry.
The major concern, however, is the pace at which Government moves to remove our vulnerability to the vagaries of pricing decisions over which small economies like ours have no control.
There are many examples of bureaucratic inertia which can be cited as a drag on the march towards energy security.
In its short history, industry practitioners who are members of BREA and are in the lead towards the creation of a renewable energy industry have all cited experiences which suggest that the priority to implement clearly stated policy positions is hardly noticeable.
The association itself is sorely disappointed at the lack of urgency evidently needed in this fight to secure our national independence in this vital sector.  


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