Energy ministers urge swift response to fallout of rising oil prices

Energy Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are urging a rapid response at the national and regional levels to the challenges arising from increasing oil prices.

The Ministers, who ended a one-day Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) here on Thursday, acknowledged that the energy situation remained dire for the net oil importing CARICOM members, given the recent surge in oil prices intensified by the ongoing political unrest in the Northern African and Middle Eastern regions.

According to a statement from the CARICOM Secretariat, they noted that the prevailing high prices had the potential to create a crisis for net energy importing members and brought into sharp focus the need for energy to remain a priority for the region. The Ministers agreed that member states needed to place priority on energy efficiency and conservation, as well as to speed up the transition to renewable energy.

Having identified gaps and areas for strengthening, including those related to renewable energy and climate change issues, the Ministers mandated that the finalisation of the CARICOM Energy Policy be expedited. A draft of the Policy was submitted to CARICOM Heads of Government in 2007.

CARICOM said the Meeting established the procedure for finalisation of the Policy and recommended its revision for submission to the 32nd Meeting of the Conference of Heads scheduled for July 2011 or, alternatively, that an update be provided to the Heads of Government. The Policy will also address the issue of energy systems integration within CARICOM.

At the Ministerial, which was preceded by a Meeting of Officials, the Ministers examined the results of a regional energy pricing study conducted with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). They endorsed the key recommendations, including the need for a review of the approach currently being used in many CARICOM countries, and its impact on fuel prices. A working group has been established to conduct this review.

“Energy Ministers commended and endorsed the proposed approach to be taken by the CARICOM Secretariat to develop the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS) as mandated by the Twentieth Inter-Sessional Meeting of Conference of Heads of Government. The C-SERMS will establish sustainable energy targets and actions at a regional level to complement the CARICOM Energy Policy,” CARICOM noted, while adding that the Meeting mandated the CARICOM Secretariat to continue to mobilise support from development partners for sustainable energy developments identified by Member States.

Further, in an effort to heighten awareness and provide information to the regional populace on sustainable energy options and the need for greater efficiency in the use of energy, the Meeting agreed to the institutionalisation of a CARICOM Energy Week to be held during the week of November 7, 2011, and thereafter on an annual basis during the second week of November. The CARICOM Secretariat was also mandated to coordinate support from existing regional projects to assist Member States in staging the CARICOM Energy Week at national levels, the statement said.

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