Government’s efforts to address the country's energy challenges are to receive a boost under the United Nations 'Sustainable Energy for All' Initiative.
Under the programme, which will be officially launched on July 31, Government will benefit from support to provide universal access to electricity, enhance energy efficiency, and to increase the share of renewables in the local energy mix.
At a press conference at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) offices in Kingston on July 6, to discuss plans for the launch, State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, welcomed the partnership.
He said that solving the country’s energy crisis is one of the major areas of focus for the administration.
"We believe it (solving the energy problem) will trigger the growth and development of many other sectors, and sectors that we believe we have a competitive advantage in, but for our very high energy cost,” he said.
The Minister said the Government must take the lead in efforts to become more efficient in energy use, particularly in the public sector, lamenting that the administration spent $191 billion to import oil last year, and spends $1.2 billion for electricity costs to the Jamaica Public Service.
He said the government is happy to partner with UNDP on the initiative, "which we believe is in our self-interest, as a nation, as we move forward."
Deputy UNDP Resident Representative in Jamaica, Akiko Fujii, said that the project is important in addressing the energy issues the country faces to "realise the kind of development we would like to see in the future of Jamaica".
She noted that in Jamaica, around 10 per cent of citizens do not have access to electricity and most of them are in the remote, rural communities, while 16 per cent of the population struggles to pay for power and experience consistent fuel poverty.
"The high oil import cost pressures the national fiscal space,” she stated.
‘Sustainable Energy for All’ is a global initiative of the UN that aims to mobilize action from all sectors of society in support of three interlinked objectives to be achieved by 2030.
These are: providing universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
According to the UN, nearly one in five people around the world do not have access to modern energy services and twice that number, three billion people, rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.
The UN believes that increasing access to cleaner and more efficient energy, not only lights up homes, schools and hospitals, but empowers women and local communities, and grows economies, paving a path out of poverty to greater prosperity for all.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter