Barbadian consumers may soon pay less for petroleum products.
Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe said this morning Government would consider passing on the benefits of the current drop in oil prices on the world market to Barbadians.
“I am quite sure that every consideration would be given on the part of the Government to ensure that any benefits and savings are passed on to consumers,” he told reporters at a media conference today.
At the same time, he made it clear that despite falling oil prices on the world market, Government had no intention of scaling back its green energy or renewable energy programmes.
He said the transition from traditional sources of energy to renewable energy was paying dividends for domestic and commercial consumers, as well as Government.
While he did not have figures available, the minister said that, for example, the National Conservation Commission’s energy bill had dropped significantly due to its use of photovoltaic solar systems.
“The National Conservation Commission . . . is already seeing some very good returns. They are going to be quantifying that information for the purposes of our Estimates presentation to be sent to the Ministry of Finance, showing what savings they are achieving at this point in time and where the possible areas of revenue generation [are] as a result,” Lowe said.
He rejected suggestions that Government should slow down its green energy programme and put some elements on hold for the time being.
“The green energy programme is only part of our green economy programme. The main focus of green energy is not simply the price of fossil fuel, but it is really the protection of our environment,” he pointed out.
“If the prices even go down further and Barbados now pays less per barrel, it does not mean that Barbados has to import more barrels and it certainly does not mean that Barbados should abandon its ambitions relative to renewal energy . . . The country has set a target of 29 per cent of all energy consumption by 2029 comprising renewable energy.”
Lowe said Government was “sprinting ahead” on this agenda and would not only achieve, but pass the target by that date.
“I am told that Barbados is producing about 150,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year and that is an enormous amount of greenhouse gases. What that means, in basic language, is that we are continuing to pollute our environment to the tune where the very surroundings that we enjoy so much would become contaminated by the release of the CO2 into the atmosphere,” he noted.
“I want to make the point that the Government’s programme on renewable energy will be unimpeded by the circumstances in the reduction of fossil fuel oil prices. I also want to make the point that Barbados will continue to extend whatever concessions are necessary and can be made available to those persons who have been working very hard to ensure that they transition from a fossil fuel-based energy consumption operation, whether it be domestically or commercially, to one that has a mix of renewable energy, to reduce the cost of their energy but also to advance the cause of environmental protection.”
Lowe said once the environment continues to be threatened by greenhouse gases generated by fossil fuels, the country would have to keep fighting the effects of climate change.
In that regard, he said, there is a $9 million coral reef rehabilitation plan for the island’s dying reefs.
“If you go around the country’s beaches you will see a high level of erosion going on and it’s been going on for many years. If you go out snorkelling or diving you will realize that a number of our coral systems have been either bleached or have died as result of pollution or other types of negative impacts,” he said.
Lowe told reporters Government was now seeking to ensure these eco-systems were effectively managed, maintained and sustained overtime.
“I have asked the Coastal Zone Management Unit to put together a proposal for the rehabilitation of those reefs and we are now seeking funding to have that project executed,” the minister said.