Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 20th 2015 Contents A23
Monday, July 20, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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There is welcome talk about a green and
blue economy in Trinidad and Tobago.
Minister Ganga Singh has announced a
commitment to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions by 15 per cent by the year 2040.
This is not a very significant reduction but
at least CO2 reduction has entered the
vocabulary of government.
One of the ways in which CO2 reduc-
tion can be achieved is through the imple-
mentation of a feed in tariff that allows
T&TEC customers to sell solar or wind
electricity back to the grid. This is at
odds, though, with subsidized electricity
rates that discourage consumers from
investing in renewable energy.
The Invader s Bay proposal includes an
attempt to rectify the violation of the no-
net-loss of mangrove rule with a man-
grove reforestation project. That is a posi-
tive move. On the other hand, the
announced plan to build a golf course on
an artificial island off of Invader s Bay
screams confusion of goals and a lack of
planning towards a future in which sea
levels are projected to rise by 2.5 to 6.5
feet by 2100. Aside from sea level rise,
golf courses are notorious nitrate and pes-
Clearly policy needs to be more holisti-
cally thought out for it to work.
There are billions of dollars to be saved
by cutting out environmentally harmful
inefficiencies in the system, coupled with
a substantial increase in quality of life. Too
often green policies have been dismissed
as too expensive or anti-business. Real-
world experiences show that the reverse is
Here are some environmental and eco-
nomic goals that any future government
should be willing to commit to if it is
willing to build an efficient, sustainable
• T&T must reduce its carbon footprint
in line with global efforts to limit surface
temperature rise to a maximum of 2°C.
That is the limit that scientists say is nec-
essary to avoid catastrophic climate-related
events. Some scientists say that we have
already shot past that threshold and that
we are aiming for 4°C climate change.
• To stay within the +2°C temperature
range we must limit CO2 in the atmos-
phere to 450 parts per million (ppm).
Worldwide a reduction of 60 per cent
CO2 per capita is needed to stabilise cli-
mate by 2030. Each world citizen has a
fair share of 1.2 tons of CO2 by 2013. For
T&T to achieve that we must reduce pres-
ent-day per capita emissions by about 97
per cent. A T&T commitment to a 15 per
cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2040
is not enough.
• Serious thought must be given to the
question of whether the international
community will continue to make an
exception for developing countries like
T&T to exceed safe CO2 emissions. That
is the case now but geopolitics is likely to
change as the threat to the planet increas-
es. It is unavoidable that the world will
shift away from a hydrocarbon-based
economy. T&T has the ability and the
resources to adapt to that new reality vol-
untarily, on its own terms.
The lack of waste separation and recy-
cling has a direct impact on both ecologi-
cal and human health and a general sense
It is unknown how many citizens die
each year due to inhalation of dangerous
toxins and particles from the often-burn-
ing dumps but worldwide the WHO puts
the number of air pollution related deaths
at seven million. A government study
shows that waste separation and recycling
can reduce the waste stream to the dumps
by 80 per cent and four out of five dumps
can be closed, including the Beetham
Recycling is a global growth industry.
T&T can both clean up its act and make
money. A bottle deposit scheme must be
introduced. This has existed in draft form
for over a decade and a half but so far no
government has found the political will to
make it a reality.
More reforestation is needed. One only
needs to look up at the bare hillsides to
understand this. The floods will remind
us.More roads create more traffic. The only
thing that can provide a solution for traf-
fic congestion is mass transport. Traffic
congestion may be costing the economy
about $17 billion per year in lost man-
One of the most popular environmental
policies of the last few years was the
hunting moratorium. This must now be
followed up on by a scientifically-based
wildlife management policy.
The Fisheries Act is hopelessly outdated
and the Fisheries Division is understaffed.
Trinidad and Tobago has an ocean surface
about 20 times the size of its land surface.
Our EEZ is about 100,000 km2; land
space is only about 5,000km2. If we want
to develop a blue economy we must man-
age this space well. Some well-managed
fisheries around the world are showing
increasing fish stocks and increasing fisher
There are no effective air or water pol-
lution rules. Whether or not the imple-
mentation of these is blocked by industry
interest, I do not know. What I do know
is that there is needless loss of life, human
life and ecosystem health.
HOLISTIC APPROACH TO GREEN/BLUE ECONOMY
MARC DE VERTEUIL
To stay within the +2°C temperature range we must limit CO2 in the
atmosphere to 450 parts per million (ppm). Worldwide a reduction of 60
per cent CO2 per capita is needed to stabilise climate by 2030. Each
world citizen has a fair share of 1.2 tons of CO2 by 2013. For T&T to
achieve that we must reduce present-day per capita emissions by about
97 per cent. A T&T commitment to a 15 per cent reduction in CO2
emissions by 2040 is not enough.
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