Jamaica Must Embark on Aggressive Programme to Reduce Greenhouse Gases


Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, said that Jamaica must embark on an aggressive programme of energy conservation in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change. The Health Minister was speaking at a press conference held yesterday at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel (Feb. 15) to mark the third anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol and to look at Jamaica’s climate change agenda.
The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has the objective of strengthening the international response to reducing harmful greenhouse gases.
The Minister, who spoke on behalf of Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, said that Jamaica’s energy consumption for the period 1990-2006 stood at some 385.5 million barrels at a cost of some $750 billion. “Over the 16-year period, consumption moved from 17.8 million barrels to 29. 2 million barrels. Last year, Jamaica spent in excess of US $2 billion on energy consumption,” he stated.
A 2005 Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Report claimed that the Caribbean and Latin American region has made only modest advances in reducing energy intensity. In the mid-1990s, the region accounted for an estimated 11 per cent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions. In the last three decades, 150 million people in the region have been affected by disasters, yet the environmental expenditure in the region over the past decade has rarely exceeded 1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and national expenditure has rarely exceeded 3 per cent of total spending.
The Minister said that Jamaica is not short on commitment to reducing gas emissions but the country needs a “greater level of funding to be made available and access to environmentally sound technologies that will help small, vulnerable states to implement effective actions that will contribute to the reduction of emissions.”
He noted that the agenda for action on climate change must embrace the specific goals of creating healthy, productive, biologically diverse co-ecosystems; sustainable management and utilization of natural resources; effective, efficient and accountable governance framework for environment and natural resources management; and a culture of hazard risk reduction”.
Greenhouse gases are components of the atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse effect, which is the process in which the emission of infrared radiation (heat) by the atmosphere warms the planet’s surface. Greenhouse gases come from natural sources and human activity and consist of water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.
It has been found that the earth was warmed by 0.7 degrees Celcius over the past Century. The World Energy Outlook predicts that carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 63 per cent over 2002 levels by the year 2030.
It has been revealed that human activity has increased the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by some 30 per cent over pre-industrial levels, a development which, according to the 2006 Human Development Report published by the United Nations Development Programme, will have “momentous consequences in the 21st Century and beyond.
Minister Spencer said that Jamaica has already seen the effects of environmental degradation and climate change, with sea level rise causing storm surges in areas such as Portland Cottage and Rocky Point in Clarendon.

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