Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are proof that environmental issues can no longer be shoved aside.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Trinidad and Tobago’s electricity consumption increased by 266 percent since 1990, while carbon dioxide emissions increased by 125 percent.
A report by the Inter-American Development Bank cited BP’s 2013 Statistical Review in which natural gas consumption accounted for approximately 92 percent of the country's energy usage, while consumption of petroleum products was just under 8 percent.
The country's use of renewable fuels was stated as ‘negligible’ in 2009.
The country’s carbon dioxide emissions per capita are also among the highest in the world and T&T has since committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2030.
Ahead of the August 10 general election, what do the parties have to offer for the green economy?
The PNM’s Manifesto, available online, did not display a specific section for environment issues, but under the section Energy and Energy Industries, outlined a plan for two solar 130MW Renewable Energy Solar projects which would be constructed on a ‘Build, Own, and Operate Basis’.
According to the manifesto, the projects would be awarded to a consortium of Lightsource Bp, BPTT and Shell to build two solar energy plants with a capital investment of US$123 Million (TT$835M).
The PNM said these projects would satisfy the country's commitment to the Paris Agreement.
To date, funding has already been secured from the EU for the creation of a solar park at the Piarco International Airport.
The party said a project is already underway for green petrochemicals, which involves the substitution of hydrogen from the natural gas reform process with hydrogen from electrolysis.
‘There is an active project currently being pursued in this area, which proposes to initially utilise steam that is currently wasted from an existing power station to run a new turbine to produce electricity from hydrogen electrolysis. In the future there is also the potential to use renewable energy to produce hydrogen.’
Under Agriculture, the PNM’s manifesto includes a plan to ‘invest in artificial intelligence-driven systems that build and expand credible agricultural databases and inform decision making for better harvests and environmental conditions’.
The plan includes the creation of a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in high-value and indigenous agricultural products.
The party proposes to provide climate-smart agricultural practices, such as:
The party also proposes to: ‘Develop industries which produce bioethanol, biodiesel, and biogas from organic waste which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and lowers the risk of pollution to waterways while reducing the burden on landfills.’
For more of the party’s plans see https://pnmtt.live/2020manifesto/
The UNC has likewise outlined several environmental initiatives in its 2020 proposal.
The UNC has proposed the creation of a solar energy park at Tamana which will be funded through private investors:
‘We will invite private investors to establish a ‘SolarTech’ Park within the Tamana In-Tech Park. The ‘SolarTech’ Park will develop energy efficient modular solar solutions which can be retrofitted to existing buildings or integrated into new construction projects and used in several other areas such as marine, communication and transport.
‘Tamana ‘SolarTech’ will access and supply solar technologies through licensing and supply agreements and customise the product to provide specialist and turnkey energy solutions to communities within the Caribbean region.’
The party says investors will be required to ‘fully finance their own solar projects’ in the Tamana park, and that government would provide ‘all necessary support required to fast track implementation of investors’ plans, as well as tax incentives’.
The party proposes an agro-processing complex which will utilise zero-waste technologies and increase food sustainability:
‘On average, Trinidad and Tobago spends $510 million every year importing preserved vegetables and fruits and fresh juices. We will invite private investors to establish an agro-processing (preserving, drying and canning) complex at Brechin Castle.
‘This facility will capitalise on the supply from the agricultural parks such as locally grown fruits and vegetables (pineapple, pepper, pawpaw, chaitaigne, melongene, cocoa and coconut), new crops (potatoes, peanuts, chick peas, sorghum, millet) and organic ‘superfoods’ (turmeric, moringa, gluten free flours such cassava and green banana flour).
‘A zero waste policy will ensure byproducts from agro-processing can be used as feed stock for farmers. Investors will be required to fully finance the building of their own agro-processing complex.’
The party said government will provide the necessary support and tax incentives.
Government will retain a minority equity position in the agro-processing complex in exchange for any land provided.
The UNC also proposes to ban all single-use plastic and styrofoam products by 2025.
The party said the five-year transition period will allow manufacturers/distributors sufficient time to reposition their brands or introduce new recyclable products.
The party also proposes a pilot project providing a $0.25 refund for a deposit paid on every can or plastic bottle which is brought in for recycling.
The party plans to 'develop a network of Waste Collection Centres/Materials Recovery Facilities in work places and public spaces' which will allow the public to drop off recyclable and reusable materials which cannot be picked up curbside.
The party also proposes fiscal incentives to encourage manufacturers to produce eco-friendly products, including the removal of import duties on 100 percent recyclable materials.
The party also promised the provision of seed funding from a repurposed Green Fund for development of innovations for re-use, as well as recycling of materials and incentives to encourage small businesses to enter the Recycling Industry.
For more of the party’s plans see http://uncplan2020.com/
The MSJ’s manifesto outlines '10 Points for August 10’, and said it's not a full listing of all their plans but is limited to what the party’s five candidates can achieve.
MSJ proposes to provide land for traditional users of marijuana for the purpose of commercialisation:
‘Provision of land for traditional users of marijuana for them to engage in commercial farming of the herb; co-ops for them to produce oils, etc and to retail the herb and related products.’
In terms of food sustainability, the party proposes the following:
The party also proposes a CARICOM Food Security Plan.
The MSJ’s Point 7 outlines a reduction in mega-projects, focusing instead on maintenance and investment into the country’s existing infrastructure:
For more information see https://www.msjtnt.org/organization/documents/10-points-august-10-msj-ge2020-manifesto/
The party proposes to apply a tax to plastic bottles at the manufacture or importing state, and to redeem the tax for the return of discarded bottles to encourage ‘environmental cleanup’ and ‘generate revenue for those least employable and most in need’.
The party also proposed to decriminalise marijuana. Marijuana is currently legal for personal use for up to 30 grams or up to four plants.
The party also proposes the commercialisation and export of the plant and its products.
The party proposes the development of renewable energy such as wind farms, solar arrays and tidal generators.