Sustainable Energy In JamaicaIn 2013, the Prime Minister of Jamaica made an announcement that would change the future of the tropical island nation. He and his government declared that, by the year 2030, the Island nation of Jamaica would produce 30 percent of its power from renewable sources. At the time, this was an important stride for not only the worldwide movement towards greener and cleaner energy but also an important step for the national security of Jamaica. At the time the Prime Minister made this announcement, 90 percent of Jamaica’s energy needs were imported. As of 2018, sustainable energy in Jamaica was on-track to becoming a reality.

The majority of the oil used by the country was imported from Venezuela. Not only does Jamaica’s carbon footprint put it in danger but its reliance on a foreign energy source also has the potential to give the providing country sway over the domestic affairs of Jamaica, especially when 9 percent of its total GDP is spent on imported petroleum for the energy sector.

Solar Power

The government is determined to set an example for its people to follow. In 2018, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness unveiled the finished project that the government and the non-profit organization, Solar Head of State, had been working on. It was a conversion of the Prime Minster’s office to solar power. On this same day, Prime Minister Holness also announced that he believed Jamaica could surpass their 30 percent sustainable energy goal and aim for a 50 percent energy goal. Only eight other nation-states in the world are aiming higher than Jamaica for their sustainable energy targets.

This public example of green power positivity can be seen in the Jamaican classroom as well. At Hampton school, an all-girls school, nearly a quarter of the budget goes towards the energy bill. So, the headmistress takes the time to educate her young women about the importance of sustainable energy by replacing the lightbulbs in the school with energy-saving LEDs.

Wind Power

Wind is another source of income and power for sustainable energy in Jamaica. South of the Hampton school, 11 wind turbines can be seen. These are only a small portion of a larger project headed by BMR Jamaica Wind Limited. The United States and Canada are also sending financial aid through respective government institutions. By the end of the project, the turbines are expected to provide power for 15,000 people and reduce carbon emissions to the equivalent of removing 13,000 cars off of the road.

There is money in sustainable energy in Jamaica. The Jamaican government is willing to work with investors and companies in the private sector to help reduce their reliance on non-renewable sources. David Delaire, managing director of the German firm MPC Captial, said that the reason for the fast growth of the sustainable energy market in Jamaica is due in part to its location, stable market and a robust regulatory framework.

Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Unsplash

Poverty in Sardinia
Sardinia, Italian Sardegna, is an Italian island in the mediterranean sea that is no stranger to poverty. The economic hardship increased after the 2008 recession. Beginning in 2010, a variety of workers and artisans found themselves at risk of losing their jobs. For example, shepherds and independent farmers were losing business to larger farming companies and small entrepreneurs and independent contractors had to compete with privatization. So, they took to the streets of the regional capital city in Cagliari in protest. Now, Italy is looking to sustainable development and ecotourism to alleviate poverty in Sardinia.

Poverty Overall

Italy really began showing signs of economic recovery in 2017. In the first quarter of 2017, its GDP went up 0.5 percent, business morale was at its highest in a decade and export volumes had risen 2.8 percent over the first eight months of the year. The economic recovery, however, has not played out evenly. Life is getting worse for many Italians. The number of Italians living in extreme poverty had increased from 4.7 million in 2016 to 5 million by the end of 2017 despite that fact that the economic recovery has slowly been gaining traction on a macro level.

Poverty in Sardinia did not skip a beat. The percent of poor individuals living in Sardinia increased from 16 percent in 2016 to 21.4 percent in 2017, according to ISTAT. To compound the issue, the unemployment rate in Sardinia was 17 percent in 2017, which was considerably higher than Italy’s overall 11 percent rate in 2017. The island suffers from high emigration, a negative rate of population growth and a low population density of 40 inhabitants per square mile, which is almost one-third of the average in Italy.

Despite the issue of poverty in Sardinia, the inhabitants of the island live a very long time, especially in the village of Tiana where the proportion of centenarians is found to be 3 times higher than in other parts of Italy. Researchers believe this is true because of the social fabric of the region. The elderly in Tiana tend to lead longer and happier lives because of the degree of social interaction they enjoy. Italy is working to improve condition on the island by capitalizing on the history and culture of the region.

Efforts to Combat Poverty in Sardinia

To combat poverty in Sardinia and promote economic development, the country has embraced a model of sustainable development. In 2013, the island became the first sustainable destination in the Mediterranean. Part of Sardinia’s commitment to sustainability comes from the fact that the island is a huge promoter of green energy, hosting more than 2000 companies in the green supply chain and using renewable energies through its numerous wind and solar farms.

Ecotourism is gaining momentum on the island. Almost 200,000 more tourists visited the Sardinia in April and May 2017 than in the previous year during the same time. Sardinia’s beautiful coasts boast nearly unspoiled beaches and reefs. Tourists can go diving to see the protected marine life or one of the many underwater archeological sites in the region. There are a variety of things to do and see on the different islands in Sardinia depending on the interests of the tourists.

Tourism in the summer months is very popular and helps to combat low employment rates. The ecotourists and elites that visit the island during the summer months bring employment and capital to the coastal regions of the island, but the interior does not benefit from summer tourism. Sardinians living in the interior have recently taken strides to develop a cultural tourism industry. Sardinians who live in the interior believe there is an opportunity for increased tourism since the heritage of the island–cultural, linguistic, artistic and musical–has been fiercely preserved. They have begun attracting tourists to the interior by hosting successful festivals that draw out the unique characteristics of each region.

Although there is still a significant number of people living in poverty in Sardinia, efforts are underway to greatly alleviate the situation by capitalizing on the island’s beauty and rich cultural history. Ecotourism and sustainable energy are going a long way to improve the living conditions in Sardinia and bring in new business opportunities to continue building a prosperous economy.

Photo: Flickr

electrify africa
On February 8, 2016, after years of lobbying in D.C., the Electrify Africa Act was signed into law by President Obama after passing through Congress with bipartisan support.

The purpose of Electrify Africa was to establish a clear precedent for energy-focused U.S. foreign policy in sub-Saharan Africa. Further, the bill set a number of goals for the Power Africa partnership to achieve by the year 2030. These included:

  • Promotion of first-time access to power services for at least 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020
  • Encouragement of the installation of at least 20,000 additional megawatts of electrical power in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020
  • Promotion of reliable and affordable power in urban, rural and underserved areas
  • Encouragement for necessary reforms to support electricity access projects and market-based power generation and distribution
  • Promotion of an energy development strategy for sub-Saharan Africa that includes the use of oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal power
  • Promotion of the use of private financing, and removal of barriers to private financing and assistance for projects, including charitable organizations.

The bill intended for these goals to be achieved through U.S. diplomatic engagement with the governments of sub-Saharan African countries, international financial institutions, and African regional economic communities, cooperatives and private sectors.

In addition to these targets, Electrify Africa ensured strong presidential support of the Power Africa initiative by enlisting direct action from the Executive branch.

So what’s new with Electrify Africa?

According to Power Africa’s 2017 Report, the nation has successfully implemented 7,600 megawatts of electrical power. Though it accounts for less than half of the 2020 goal of 20,000, the report highlights exceptional progress in the construction of sustainable infrastructure for the sector. If all goes to plan, this will ensure a rapid increase in energy availability over the next four years.

The projections for 2020 and 2030 show an increase in sustainable energy sources like hydro and solar power and a marked decrease in the use of natural gas. Combined, these currently account for roughly 60 percent of the regions energy output.

By 2030, Power Africa expects to see more than 50 percent of sub-Saharan energy produced from hydro, solar and biomass power alone.

What has been the social impact of Electrify Africa?

As one of its core points, the bill called for 50 million people to receive home electricity access by 2020. Power Africa has recently recorded that 53 million individuals, and 10.6 million homes and businesses, have already received power.

In addition to technical assistance, Power Africa has also made it a part of its mission to support the integration of female engineers into the body of the sub-Saharan African energy sector. This aim is supported by enlisting local women to manage microgrid initiatives within their communities.  

The microgrid is intended as an alternative to the larger commercial grids which are inaccessible in rural regions of the continent. Further, due to recent technological improvements, these grids offer affordable long-term electricity options for rural communities. They are currently being used to power health clinics, schools, and limited forms of agricultural production.

Ultimately, the progress Electrify Africa has helped the Power Africa partnership make is game-changing. Not only are there directly measurable improvements in the sector’s infrastructure, but there also seems to be a rapid development of private sector involvement in the process. Such development offers much hope for continued improvements in the region.

– Katarina Schrag

Photo: Flickr

47 of the World's Poorest Nations Aim to Use Completely Green Energy
A recent U.N. climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco demonstrated that the multinational fight against rising global temperatures continues, as the event ended with 47 of the world’s poorest nations pledging to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

The goal was set in place during the conference’s Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a meeting designed to discuss methods in which nations could meet benchmarks set by the Paris Climate Deal. Haiti, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Malawi, Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Honduras, Cambodia, Sudan and many other nations made the commitment to transfer to renewable energy.

The Paris Climate Deal is an agreement reached by 195 nations during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference to limit the average rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Switching to renewable energy sources will allow the world’s poorest nations to avoid the mistakes of more developed nations, also known as “leapfrogging.” Though the term is usually used for economics and business, it describes the ability of parties to avoid the problems plaguing their more developed counterparts by skipping over these problems entirely.

For example, the world’s poorest nations switching to renewable energy sources allows them to fuel economic growth without raising greenhouse gas emissions to dangerously high levels, like countries such as the U.S. have done.

The nations in agreement planned to have 100 percent renewable energy systems in place sometime between 2030 and 2050. Each nation must turn in a detailed plan to reach this goal to the U.N. by 2020.

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions may also help the world’s poorest nations increase water and food security, as some of the nations are part of the Vulnerable Twenty — the group of nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

For example, Bangladesh already suffers from flooding and rising sea levels due to its low elevation. Cyclones regularly displace the country’s 156 million people. Though the country had planned to build 24 coal power plants to expand energy access to the half of the population that lives off the grid, the CLF called for Bangladesh to use sustainable energy to meet this demand. Coal power plants will only worsen the catastrophic events Bangladesh experiences due to climate change.

The success of the Paris Climate Deal will hinge largely on monetary contributions from developed nations which agreed to contribute $100 billion to sustainable energy initiatives. The U.S. pledged to contribute $3 billion.

The goals of the climate agreement are put in jeopardy if powerful nations defer or abandon their contributions. So far, the U.S. has only contributed $500,000 of their promised contribution.

Though the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stated he will cancel the U.S.’s part in the Paris climate agreement, in recent interviews Trump said he will simply keep “an open mind” about the agreement.

Cassie Lipp

Photo: Flickr