Monday May 31, 2021
Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert Conveys Government’s Support for Solar Challenge!
On Thursday May 20, 2021, the OECS Commission held a virtual launch of the Nationally Determined Contributions Finance Initiative (NDCFI) EASTERN CARIBBEAN SOLAR CHALLENGE.
The Eastern Caribbean Solar Challenge is an initiative of the NDCFI managed by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Government of Saint Lucia. The “Challenge” seeks to increase the use and visibility of solar energy in OECS Member States by 2023 through the combined efforts of governments, development partners, the regional and international private sector and households.
In an effort to support NDC implementation and wider climate action in the Eastern Caribbean, the NDCFI has embarked on this bold and exciting new renewable energy initiative. The Eastern Caribbean Solar Challenge: “Race to the Sun” aims to engage governments, the private sector, development partners and households in a united effort to increase the diffusion of solar electricity and heating across the region by the end of 2023, in the first instance.
Speaking at the launch was Honourable Dr. Gale T. C. Rigobert, Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development.
Dr. Rigobert started her presentation by pointing to the “dire threat that climate change poses to our islands.”
“As particularly vulnerable island-states, we have seen and borne the brunt of the disastrous effects of this global phenomenon; the ravaging of our homes and other property; the loss of lives; and the impairment of our economies, to name a few,” Dr. Rigobert expounded.
Underscoring the fact that; “notwithstanding our greenhouse gas emissions are negligible,” she went on to affirm; “we recognize that the fight against climate change is a global one, one which calls for our ambitious leadership and commitment to both adapting and mitigating to the adverse effects of climate change”. “Furthermore, we also recognize the urgent need for us, as member states, to rally our efforts in a coordinated approach, towards amplified outcomes,” Dr. Rigobert stated.
“As the Minister with responsibility for the climate change portfolio in Saint Lucia, I am beyond pleased that we and other member states can collaborate with the OECS Commission and the very appreciated friends of the Commission, on such a timely and crucial initiative as this; one which seeks to engage in a holistic manner, our governments, the private sector, development partners, impact financiers and households, in a united effort to increase the diffusion of solar energy across the region,” the Minister went on to say.
Dr. Rigobert expressed her pride in the fact that Saint Lucia, through its NDC commitments, is taking the bold step in leading by example – as have a number of other member states.
She outlined some of these steps which include submitting the first NDC in 2015 which set a GHG emissions reduction target of 16% by 2025 and 23% by 2030 in the areas of energy, electricity generation and transport. “We also submitted our updated NDC which raises ambition and calls for a 7% reduction in GHG emission by 2030 relative to 2010, through proposed key actions to harness Saint Lucia’s natural resources by way of increasing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies,” Dr. Rigobert further explained.
The initiatives aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies include; improving incentives and infrastructure to encourage a greater uptake in low carbon motor vehicles; improving the legislative framework; pursuing more public awareness; and encouraging strategic investment opportunities for the private sector in the transport and energy areas.
“As we, member states, move towards meeting our targets and enhancing the implementation of our NDCs, the importance of this Solar Challenge initiative cannot be understated. Indeed, we have always had the sun, but we have not always taken advantage of it,” Dr. Rigobert said.
According to the Minister, the “Solar Challenge” is in direct alignment with the islands’ individual and collective commitment as Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to shifting to low carbon economies. This she said capitalizes on the need to engage stakeholders at all levels, especially to leverage the private sector to drive and support ambitious climate action.
“This is timely for us in Saint Lucia, with the Cabinet of Ministers just having approved a Climate Change Private Sector Engagement Strategy that we plan to roll out,” Dr. Rigobert revealed. “This “Solar Challenge” initiative will assist our countries in better aligning their actions with their policies. It will place us in a better position to build resilience in the face of climate change, in a manner that utilizes what we have readily available – the sun – while being participatory and inclusive to all,” she went on to add.
There are several ways in which the citizenry can participate in the “Solar Challenge” including residents registering, once a solar system has been installed in their homes as of January 1st 2021, as a contribution towards the Eastern Caribbean. Every contribution, no matter the size, counts towards the regional target, the OECS Commission says, and they are encouraging citizens to spread the word.
“Saint Lucia and I daresay, we, the member states, offer our full support to this initiative and stand dedicated to taking the necessary action in ensuring that it is a success and the benefits are realized,” Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert ended by saying.
The launch of the NDCFI Eastern Caribbean Solar Challenge featured opening remarks from the Director General of the OECS Dr. Didicus Jules. Remarks were also delivered by Mr. Pablo Vieira Global Director NDC Partnership Support Unit, Dr. Keith Mitchell Prime Minister of Grenada, Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, H.E. Fiona Clouder UK Cop26 Regional Ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean and Rob Wallace CEO and co-founder Power52 Energy Solutions. The moderator of the launch was Ms. Leena Wokeck, GIZ Consultant.
To learn more about the OECS Solar Challenge and how one can participate, visit: https://www.oecs.org/solar-challenge/