December 15, 2019

Breaking free from fossil fuel dependency

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amrita_dassBy Amrita Dass

We all know that God is a Trini, has been and always will be. It’s time for us, however, to stop relying on this concept and, as a nation, start taking matters of importance into our own hands and finally cut the umbilical cord that has tied us to the dependence on fossil fuels for over 100 years.

With the steady decline in the demand for oil globally and the vast decrease in oil prices, it is no secret that the twin island of Trinidad and Tobago cannot be sustained on the fossil fuel industry alone. Being a net exporter of oil and natural gas, we have become dependent on satisfying our energy needs through the use of these fossil fuels.

Consequentially, this has not only created a fiscal burden on the government, but it has also resulted in the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide and the emission of other greenhouse gases. This not only poses a threat to human health, but it also detrimentally affects the environment as it promotes the stimulation of anthropogenic climate change.

The United Nations, however, has taken the initiative in providing a global consensus that directly addresses the phenomenon at hand. They believe that mitigation strategies that confront the issue of climate change should be of utmost importance to both the public and the government.

As the era of modernization continues to act as a platform for growth, this country needs to come to the realization, that only through the development of sustainable forms of energy, can we achieve a more diversified and environmentally friendly nation. We must emancipate ourselves from the narrow-minded ideology that an industrialized society can only be sustained through the use of fossil fuels.

According to the World Bank, the consumption of fossil fuel energy in Trinidad and Tobago was last measured to be 99.93% in 2011. This is an alarmingly high rate for any given country, most specifically a small island developing state such as our own.

This not only places emphasis on how much our country has already contributed towards climate change, but also on the realization that we need to break free from our fossil fuel dependency syndrome.

Due to our limited size and geographical location, climate change poses a detrimental threat to the islands, where rising sea levels should be of a great concern as it results in a variety of negative socio-economic implications.

With natural gas being a major export, it is no surprise that it also one of the major consumables in the generation of electricity within the country. In current times of economic downfall, it should be in the government’s best interest to provide innovative ideas so that renewable sources of energy can be a viable alternative.

Educating the public on ways in which they can contribute to sustainable development both residentially and commercially should be considered as a priority.

Being a tropical region, Trinidad and Tobago receives an abundance of direct sunlight, which can be alternatively utilised to provide solar energy. This decreases our dependency on fossil fuels to provide energy to the country, and additionally aids in preserving our environment.

This initiative has already been taken by other Caribbean countries, and credibility can be given to both and Barbuda as they have already made the switch to solar energy.

Similarly, there are many large, unoccupied expanses of land, which can be economically and environmentally beneficial to our country. The government can invest in wind farms that can act as a power generator to the public. This provides a cheap alternative as wind energy is naturally available to us, thus, we can harness this energy to provide a sustainable form of electricity.

This decreases the use of fossil fuels considerably and additionally shines light on more renewable steps of requiring energy, which carries out the same everyday processes but leaves the environment unharmed.

Like the famous once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Let us come together as a nation and answer the wakeup call that has been ringing loudly in our ears for far too long. We need to work together on paving a path and leaving behind not only a legacy, but also a world in which our future generations do not have to suffer as a result of our neglect of the environment in which we live in.

We should take the required steps in breaking the oil dependency syndrome that has plagued our nation for so many years and invest in diversifying both our economy and environment to act as a reflection of the beautiful land we have been blessed to call Trinidad and Tobago.

IMAGE: Amrita Dass is currently a university student enrolled in The University of The West Indies, , pursing a double major in Biology and Environmental Science

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