Pacific societies are highly dependent on energy generated by fossil fuels. The average Pacific island household spends a large portion of their income on electricity, petrol and diesel for transportation, and imported goods shipped to Pacific islands with a large carbon footprint.
Pacific island countries were presented with the benefits of transitioning to low carbon economies through Low Carbon Developments (LCD), which “makes sense” for the region, not only for economic reasons, but because it is at the front-line of the negative impacts of climate change. Transitioning to LCD will place the Pacific at the forefront of the fight against climate change.
Mr Espen Ronneberg, Climate Change Adviser of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), spoke on Low Carbon Developments (LCD) in Pacific communities and highlighted the economic, societal and environmental benefits this can bring about.
“Low carbon development is essentially about sustainable development and building resilience of our societies. For Pacific Small Island Developing States, it is even more quintessential than for other economies,” Mr Ronneberg said.
“Pacific communities, especially rural families, are much more at the mercy of fossil fuel prices in their daily lives than others. Families have to make tough choices in their spending as a result of oil price shocks which have had dramatic effects on their livelihoods.”
“LCD will see reduced fossil fuel bills for households and individuals, and will free up resources for other climate action, as well as improved social benefits. It will also mean gaining greater energy independence in societies,” he added.
From a societal perspective, new employment opportunities will arise in the renewable energy sector such as service and maintenance providers for renewable energy installations, harvesting and planting employment in biofuel industries to name a few, as well as more employment opportunities arising from more capital being made available in national economies due to decreased spending on fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources.
“It also makes eminent sense from an environmental perspective, not only will contributions to climate change be significantly reduced, it will also result in air quality improvements from reduced fuel pollution as well as reduced risks of coastal and marine pollution from trans-shipment of fuels from tankers to shore,” Mr Ronneberg pointed out.
“It’s a way for the Pacific to show that even though we contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions but since we are the ones who are impacted first, we will lead and hold everyone else responsible to take similar actions.”