CARICOM's Energy Programme Manager Joseph Williams with Worldwatch Institute Program Manager Mark Konold and Research Associates Evan Musolino and Katie Auth.

In the face of the many challenges inherent in getting 15 countries—each with their own resources, priorities, and political complexities—to agree to anything, let alone a comprehensive regional energy policy, the Caribbean is now on the brink of taking a significant (and impressive) step forward. For the past half decade, a Draft Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Energy Policy—designed to address critical issues like energy security, affordability, energy efficiency, and renewable energy—has been circulating among CARICOM’s 15 member states, continually being revised to reflect the concerns of individual members, but never finalized.

Last week, a team from Worldwatch joined CARICOM Prime Ministers, Energy Ministers, government representatives, technical experts, and international organizations in Trinidad & Tobago for the Forty-First Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED). On March 1, after more than five years of lengthy deliberation, delegates at the event provisionally adopted both the Draft Energy Policy and Worldwatch’s Sustainable Energy Targets for the region, marking an important step forward in the development of renewable energy and energy cooperation in the Caribbean.

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Caribbean, CARICOM, energy, energy policy, energy security, low-carbon, renewable energy, Trinidad and Tobago

LNG tankers could become a more common sight in the Caribbean.

By Saya Kitasei and Cristina Adkins

As oil prices continue to rise, consumers all over the world are feeling the squeeze. Although Americans may be hurting at the pump and reviving debates about energy security, the U.S. economy’s vulnerability to oil price volatility is small relative to the island nations of the Caribbean, which use oil to generate most of their electricity in addition to fueling their vehicles. In response to recent oil price shocks, some islands are discussing a shift from oil to natural gas to generate electricity (and even to fill up their cars). Since the end of 2008, natural gas prices have stayed very low while oil prices rose steeply, leading many policy-makers in the Caribbean to argue that natural gas is a good bet for their islands’ economic and energy security.

As ReVolt has reported, Worldwatch is currently working with three Caribbean countries, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Haiti, to study the potential for development pathways based around domestic renewable energy and energy efficiency resources.  Should it remain significantly cheaper than oil, natural gas could provide an important additional piece to reducing these islands’ expenditures on energy imports, even though gas, too, would have to be imported, most likely in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

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Caribbean, Dominican Republic, electricity, energy efficiency, Jamaica, LNG, natural gas, oil, renewable energy, Trinidad and Tobago