CARICOM must exploit natural gas resources for energy security – President Ali

His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has emphasised the importance of the use of natural gas as a solution for energy security in the Caribbean region.

Addressing the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference on Monday, Dr Ali urged member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to actively explore their natural gas resources to meet the region’s growing energy demands.

His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali during energy conference in Trinidad and Tobago

“Here in Trinidad and Tobago, that opportunity exists and that opportunity should be allowed to blossom for the benefit of the people of this region and the globe,” President Ali told the audience at the four-day conference underway at Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain.

The head of state highlighted the global energy and food crises, the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine which have further compounded the issues.

He pointed out that these have contributed to the high cost of energy, which has led to increased costs for electricity, transportation, and consumer goods, contributing to inflation in developed and developing states.

“Much of our inflation is imported. As political leaders and policy makers, we have to face the reality of inflation that is not as a result of bad policies or measures…This has pushed many families into poverty and food insecurity,” the president said.

According to the World Energy and Consumption Yearbook for 2021, global energy consumption rebounded by 5 per cent in 2021 compared to the 4.5 per cent fall in 2020.

His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali during energy conference in Trinidad and Tobago

The global primary energy consumption for the year 2021 was 176,431 terawatt hours. The four main sources of power consumed were oil, 29 per cent, coal, 24 per cent, natural gas, 22 per cent, and hydropower, six per cent.

“This is the reality. This is not guesswork; this is the data. So, let’s have the conversation as to how we first moved away from coal, the 25 per cent. Why isn’t that conversation the priority?

“If coal is the worst form of energy, how do we transition? What is needed to make that first and immediate transition from coal, which is 25 per cent? Where is that conversation?” President Ali questioned.

Dr Ali stated that the region’s reliance on fossil fuels and natural gas will continue for the foreseeable future, stating “It’s not a big scientific analysis that is required. It is based on what is before us.”

He said to achieve a net-zero global system, countries must invest in clean energy and green technology, reduce their carbon footprint, and create new economic opportunities in the clean energy sector.

His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali during energy conference in Trinidad and Tobago

The president also highlighted the importance of ensuring that the transition to a net-zero world is equitable and beneficial for all people.

“So, while still quite capital intensive, renewable energy will and must be pursued. This is not an argument against renewable energy. We must pursue every opportunity of renewable energy and we have a tremendous opportunity,” he noted.

He said coming out of the conference should be an outcome document that contributes to the global system, and provides insight into how the region is approaching the transition to a net-zero world, specifically how the investors in the energy sector in the region are viewing the transition and potential opportunities in clean energy.

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