Supporting Clean Energy on Small Developing Islands

We all know the term “off the grid.” Well, when you live on a small tropical island, you are way off the grid. Relying on locally sourced fossil fuels to power your small country is not usually an option. So what do you do? You ditch the expensive imports of oil (via tanker) and embrace renewable energy.

The blog Global Warming is Real (Hat Tip to ENN) reports that representatives from 20 small island developing states (SIDS) have signed the “Barbados Declaration,” declaring their intentions to become carbon neutral or carbon negative through reliance on renewable sources of energy. The declaration was the outcome of a recent gathering in Bridgetown, Barbados for the UN Development Program’s Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing Statesconference.

A press release from the United Nation’s Development Programme carried this bit:

The Barbados Declaration emphasizes that there are commercially feasible options in many small island states for providing energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, and oceans energy.

“However, these technologies must be made accessible, affordable and adaptable to the needs and particular circumstances of SIDS communities,” states the declaration.  “In this regard, we strongly urge the international community, particularly developed countries, to ensure the provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to SIDS,”

I view declarations coming out of the U.N. with a healthy dose of skepticism. The U.N. frankly is the world’s greatest bureaucracy, with a performance record to match. But here the United States, as the major contributor to the U.N., has an opportunity to lead. We should allocate a portion of our $50 billion annual foreign aid budget to support international clean energy efforts. In terms of priorities for foreign aid, I think we can find ways to free up a small amount of financing to support clean energy on developing islands. Honestly, if we are going to spend the money, I would rather have it spent this way, than to see it sent to Middle East autocracies.    

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