Press Statement by the Honourable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy to Commemorate CARICOM Energy Week 2014
“Achieving Climate, Environmental and Economic Resilience through Sustainable Energy”
Antigua and Barbuda joins this year with the other members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to celebrate CARICOM Energy WEEK 2014 under the theme of “Achieving Climate, Environmental and Economic Resilience through Sustainable Energy”.
This theme is reflective of the efforts being made by the new administration of Antigua and Barbuda to promote an energy policy which is reflective of the needs of the country and specifically where possible to reduce the cost of energy to the consumer, to harness our country’s considerable renewable energy resources, and to encourage energy efficiency and energy conservation.
The world today is at a crossroad in terms of energy. High energy costs combined with the adverse impacts on the global climate of fossil fuels mean that new directions must be followed as we strive towards a sustainable future.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda is pursuing a multi-pronged approach to its energy policy. This policy is driven by the overall aims of advancing the standard of living of our people through access to energy at reasonable prices, enhancing our economic competitiveness, reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and incorporating environmental concerns into our energy programmes and policies.
The first element of our energy policy is intended to bring about sustained reduction in energy prices to ordinary consumers. This initiative will involve shifting from existing pricing methodologies and working with our partners in the petroleum industry to ensure that the benefits of any downward movements in international fuel prices are passed on to residential and other consumers.
The second component of our government’s energy policy involves establishing the institutional and policy framework required for management of energy in the twenty-first century. This includes strengthening the technical capacity of the Ministry of Energy to implement its mandate for managing energy in Antigua and Barbuda as well as establishment of a National Energy Council which will bring together private and public sector energy sector stakeholders to advise the Ministry of Energy on energy related policies and measures.
This government is committed to empowering Antiguans and Barbudans to benefit directly from our wind, solar and other renewable energy resources. New technologies are making these energy sources more and more cost effective and efficient, and our government will continue to do its part to reduce the cost of renewable energy components through removal of duties on renewable energy equipment.
Equally significant, however, will be the enactment in a few weeks of renewable energy legislation which will provide a modern regulatory platform for grid scale and consumer level renewable energy in Antigua and Barbuda. It is also our plan to work with friendly governments and agencies to introduce renewable energy at government buildings, thereby reducing governments own use of fossil fuel based electricity.
The other area for immediate attention will be energy efficiency and energy conservation. This will be critical as it constitutes the proverbial low hanging fruit and is therefore an opportunity which we must grasp, making use of new technologies such as LED and CFL lighting as well as modern energy management approaches and concepts.
There is now global recognition of the adverse effects of climate change, particularly so on small -island States like Antigua and Barbuda. Most of the adverse changes in our climate are a result of the emission into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels. The initiatives being planned by the Ministry of Energy will all contribute to the international goal to combat the very real threat of global climate change by reducing Antigua and Barbuda’s emissions of greenhouse gases.
In summary, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, acting though the Ministry responsible for Energy, is embarking on a bold path to advance the concepts of sustainable energy. This will have a number of interrelated components and will involve working alongside partners in private and public sectors to ensure visionary and balanced energy management for Antigua and Barbuda. We also look forward to working with our regional and international partners for support and assistance as our nation strives towards the goal of this year’s CARICOM Energy Week of “Achieving Climate, Environmental and Economic Resilience through Sustainable Energy”.
Honorable Asot Michael
Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy