Why wait TCI? let’s lead the way on Green energy
#TurksandCaicos, June 22, 2022 – It may seem far fetched for a small developing nation like TCI, but I’m optimistic we could lead the way by becoming an all green country. As a small island nation, we should be taking advantage of the proven cutting edge technology that’s out there, such as wind power, or solar energy which are alternatives to burning fossil fuels.
Our country is in a good position to become Trail Blazers in this arena and not just followers of the free world. For this dream to become a reality and take shape, every developer would have to contribute a small percentage of their profits into a green energy fund.
With TCI being blessed with sunshine practically 365 days out of the year, and strong eastwardly winds particularly on the island of Grand Turk, we are in a position to generate either solar or wind power. With the ongoing war in Ukraine, we have seen the geopolitical landscape of global energy production changing very rapidly. It’s a perfect storm to push for green energy especially in Caribbean countries. With that being said, a sizable investment in this area will be well worth it in the long run.
Let’s use Uruguay as an example, a relatively small country in South America. In 2020, over 40% of their electricity capacity and generation derived from solar and wind power. So what can we learn from them?
I strongly believe small countries like TCI with relatively low level of energy consumption can also champion such initiative.
Big energy companies like Fortis Inc. with approximately $58 billion in total assets, should be in a position to step up to the plate and provide a broader market of solar driven power in TCI. It’s doable because for many years, Fortis TCI have had the monopoly and made a fortune on the backs of our people.
A starting point should be with slowly eliminating those existing diesel generators, ramping up the project with burying power lines and taking on a stronger roll in supporting more homes on the “UORE” program etc.
For readers who aren’t familiar with the “UORE” program, these are customers who have been outfitted with solar panels to power their homes. These customers are also eligible to receive a monthly fixed credit from Fortis TCI, for rooftop space and an annual variable incentive based on system production.
It should be noted, Fortis TCI, is playing a much more active role within our communities with respect to the recent launch of a scholarship apprenticeship program which is commendable. I still believe more can be done, such as Fortistci working in tandem with the government and other NGOs to provide solar training classes at the local community colleges, opening more investment opportunities, etc.
Government should also push big co-operations like Carnival and Beaches resort to make a greater effort to reduce their carbon footprint. Instead of just touting our reliance on more brick and mortar investments, our government should embrace a wider vision and lead the way on this initiative to help improve our basic infrastructure.
TCI can become the envy of the Caribbean by starting with investing in solar powered vehicles, solar lights, green building materials, acquiring green buses to support public transportation etc. By investing in green busses, the health and safety of our citizens would also be at a lesser risk from harmful emissions.
Furthermore, not only will it be a cost savings to consumers, but the spin-off will result in more job creation.
We must act now! if not, in the near future, we could be faced with potentially devastating consequences like, changes in the rainy seasons, longer droughts and increasing intensity of hurricanes as we have seen over the past 10 or so years. It’s time to get out of our comfort zone and diversify our energy portfolio.
Let’s not continue to put all of our eggs in one basket like we do with our tourism sector. Let’s not wait to be broadsided again like we were with the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted our way of life and significantly impacted our fragile tourism economy. Let’s challenge our politicians who will dare to muster up the courage to put this front and center on their agenda.
Big oil companies continues to reap the profits while energy consumption around the world soar and the power cost adjustment in TCI keeps getting higher.
With that being said, there has never been a more crucial time for our country to explore green energy on a larger scale. We must get serious about clean energy and chart a path toward a fossil-free future. The aim and objective should be to strengthen our country economically and the resolve of our people. This is also a great way to draw down carbon emissions, while supporting the global initiatives to combat climate changes, giving everyone access to clean energy.
Kamala Harris to meet with Caribbean leaders in The Bahamas
#USA, June 5, 2023 – Kamala Harris, United States Vice President will journey to Nassau Bahamas in June for a top level meeting with Caribbean leaders, marking the first time she will visit the region since occupying office in 2021.
According to the White House in a statement, the meeting will bring attention to a range of regional issues. Harris and the Caribbean leaders will continue talks on the shared efforts to address the climate crisis, such as promoting climate resilience and adaptation in the region and increasing energy security through clean energy.
Additionally, the statement informed that Harris’ trip “delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean in pursuit of shared prosperity and security, and in recognition of the common bonds and interests between our nations.”
The June 8th meeting builds on and strengthens the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, which was launched by the Vice President and Caribbean leaders in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas as further mentioned by White House Statement.
CARPHA Observes World No Tobacco Day
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, June 5, 2023 – Tobacco use remains a major public health concern in the Caribbean Region. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. The use of tobacco products in any form harms nearly every organ of the body, irrespective of whether it is smoked, smokeless, or electronic. Of all the forms of tobacco use, most common in the Caribbean region is cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Using other tobacco products such as cigars or pipes also increases the risk for this disease.
Second-hand smoke exposure causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults; and acute respiratory infections and severe asthma in children. It is a preventable risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which are the leading cause of death, disease and disability among Caribbean people.
This year, World No Tobacco Day focuses on Grow Food, Not Tobacco. This campaign advocates for ending tobacco cultivation and switching to more sustainable crops that improve food security and nutrition. The campaign observed annually on 31 May, also informs the public on the dangers of direct use, and exposure to tobacco.
In the Caribbean Region, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and disability – 76.8% of the total deaths (non-Latin Caribbean, excluding Haiti) were due to NCDs in 2016. Cardiovascular diseases 30.8% and cancer 17.2% are the leading causes of death due to NCD, both linked to tobacco use. Many of these persons die in the prime of their lives before the age of 70 years old. The prevalence of smokers for overall tobacco products ranged from 57.2% prevalence (95%CI 48.4 to 65.4%) to 16.2% (95%CI 11.2 to 23.0%). According to the Report on Tobacco Control in the Region of the Americas (2018) Caribbean countries have the highest levels of tobacco experimentation before the age of 10.
Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) “Smokeless does not mean harmless. Nicotine in e-cigarettes is a highly addictive drug and can damage children’s developing brains. Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life. Preventing tobacco product use among youth is therefore critical. It is important that we educate children and adolescents about the harms of nicotine and tobacco product use. We must work to prevent future generations from seeing such products as “normal”.”
In 2008, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) endorsed the recommendation to ban smoking in public spaces. Later, in 2012, CARICOM regulated a standard for labelling retail packages of tobacco products with health warnings. Caribbean civil society organisations (CSOs), working in collaboration with local governments and international partners, have led the charge in fighting for significant gains in tobacco control in the Caribbean region.
Dr Heather Armstrong, Head, Chronic Disease and Injury: “At CARPHA, we believe that reducing the harm caused by tobacco use requires a collective approach, where government, civil society, and the individual play a critical role. CARPHA promotes the prevention of tobacco use in all forms and commitment to the WHO FCTC. The focus on tobacco control deals with the youth of the Region. Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life.”
The Chronic Diseases and Injury Department of CARPHA provides leadership, strategic direction, coordinates and implements technical cooperation activities directed towards the prevention and control of NCDs in CARPHA Member States. CARPHA’s message for prevention of tobacco product use has spread across its Member States.
In 2018, CARPHA in partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Global Health Diplomacy Program at the University of Toronto, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition evaluated the Port of Spain Declaration to learn which mandates helped to prevent and control NCDs. Taxation, smoke-free public places mandate, and mandatory labelling of tobacco products are some of the leading policies making the biggest impact on reduction of tobacco use in the Caribbean regions.
CARPHA urges Member States to work together to prevent and reduce the use of all forms of tobacco products, and scale-up efforts to implement their commitments under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). By doing so, the negative impact of smoking and its consequences on the health of our people, especially the younger generation, and the tremendous burden on the economies of the countries in our Region, will greatly be reduced.
Hunger rates rise in Latin America and the Caribbean
June 5, 2023 – It’s an unfortunate reality for Latin America and the Caribbean as the number of people suffering from hunger surged by 30 percent; 56 million people now facing hunger, a large increase from 43 million in 2019.
It was revealed by Mario Lubetkin, Deputy Director General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), where he further informed that the war in Ukraine, COVID-19, and the ongoing climate crisis are to blame for the surge.
Regarding the climate crisis, he emphasized that climate related challenges are on the rise as the region experiences combinations of droughts and floods; and to combat this, he expressed that proactive measures should be put in place to prepare farmers for potential severe impacts.
To help mitigate the surge in hunger rate, he put forth a three fold approach.
The first is the importance of effectively managing the current situation by whatever means necessary; for the second, he fingered the need for the creation of sufficient funds to mitigate the impact on farmers, for the third, he highlighted the need for collaboration among Governments, public sectors, and private sectors in order to mollify the burden of rising prices on consumers.
These highlighted efforts are in line with the aspirations and duties of the FAO which is devoted to supporting family farming, which makes up 80 percent of the workforce in the Agriculture sector.
Additionally, Lubetkin spoke of FAO’s commitment to quality products and brought attention to the United Nations Decade of Family Farming, which is geared towards eradicating hunger, ensuring food security, and promoting sustainable development in rural areas.
The organization also aims to enhance food security, a needed element in the regions, through innovation and digitization processes for example “1,000 digital villages,” one of their projects aids countries in using digital tools in agri-food systems and rural territories.
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