Ten Island Renewable Challenge
Small island states’ economies, societies and ecosystems have been burdened by the need to import oil, natural gas and coal since around the time the fossil fuel era began. Now threatened by the effects of climate change – rising sea levels and ocean acidification prominent among them – island states find themselves raising the risks that threaten the sustainability of their societies.
Now proven in the field and more affordable than ever, developing a diversified mix of renewable energy resources affords island nations a way out of the fossil fuel trap, as well as the means to do their part in mitigating global climate change.
Joining with ten Caribbean island nations, the Carbon War Room, in partnership with The Make Yourself Foundation, last week announced the launch of an Urgency Network Campaign crowdfunding drive to raise $1 million for the Ten Island Renewable Challenge, an initiative that aims to transition 10 Caribbean island nations to 100 percent renewable energy, and then move on to do the same for island nations in the Pacific.
“There is no Planet B!”
“Friends, I often say ‘there is no Planet B!’ Let’s take good care of our planet by bringing environment and economics together. We’ll start by implementing renewable energy on islands, and then expand to the rest of the world,” Carbon War Room president Jose Maria Figueres Olsen states on the Urgency Campaign website.
The Carbon War Room joined with Sir Richard Branson – himself the owner of a Caribbean island – and Christina Figueres, executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in launching the Ten Island Renewable Challenge at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June 2012.
As the Carbon War Room states on the Ten Island Renewable Challenge Urgency Network Campaign website,
“Islands across the globe face huge risks to their futures as they are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and they also face huge financial challenges in the way they live today. The dependence on imported fossil fuel to produce energy is hugely expensive, and people living on islands are paying the some of the highest prices in the world just for food, water and energy.
“The additional demand we make, as tourists doesn’t help the situation either. The use of air-conditioned hotel rooms, cars, and the huge amounts of waste left behind are all putting an even bigger strain on its resources.
The solution and way out of the fossil fuel trap is straightforward and practical today, Carbon War Room continues: move away from fossil fuels and develop a diversified mix of renewable energy resources, including solar, wind, marine and waste-to-enegy, that “are all in abundance and don’t place a burden on the environment. And like the best things in life, they are free!”
Carbon War Room project teams are now in place and working in Aruba and St. Lucia while working to start up activities in eight other Caribbean island nations, including Grenada and the British Virgin Islands.
An honest broker for a renewable energy transition in the Caribbean
A lack of institutional capacity hinders the realization of such fundamental change, however. On their own, Caribbean island nations typically lack all the resources and expertise needed to assess their renewable energy resource bases, develop strategic plans and then implement them. The Carbon War Room is trying to address this by working as “an ‘honest broker’ for islands, helping bring the best available technologies to the fore and “attracting the right experts and the investment, because we want to help them choose the best technology options for their islands, their economy and the people.”
Care to make a small contribution to the effort? Head over to the Urgency Campaign’s Ten Island Renewable Challenge website. As the Carbon War Room states: “Your donations will help islands identify and develop the solutions they need, building on their own expertise and skills so that technologies can be installed – and islands can become energy independent.”
Branson has offered Necker Island, which he owns, as a demonstration site for the project. Multiple bidders have responded to a request for proposals (RFP) issued in February for the installation of renewable energy solutions. Wind and solar installations are expected to begin later this year.
Main image credit: The Urgency Network
Featured image credit: Angelo Domini, courtesy flickr