With great enthusiasm I joined the Climate Tracker as the Caribbean Program Officer. In my first year, I quickly dived into our first two Caribbean fellowship programs, which involved 19 journalists.
This year we also worked for the very first time with Caribbean countries such as Belize, Dominica, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Bahamas. Journalists from these countries are currently participating in the sixth month Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism fellowship.
Our goal is to bring our vision and mission to the whole Caribbean. A big shout out goes to our partners the Cropper Foundation, the European Climate Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations. It would not be possible to have such a successful year without our partners.
I am extremely proud to share with you a quick review of some of the biggest stories our Caribbean fellows published this year.
While Guyana is rapidly developing its oil and gas industry, the country is also investing in energy transition. David Papannah showed through his story that solar power generation via photovoltaic farms is leading the way in the government’s multi-pronged efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition Guyana to sustainable sources of alternative energy.
The Guyanese government is also preparing a mega gas-to-energy project. Natural gas is the transition fuel meant to prevent Guyana from becoming dependent on fossil fuels. With her story: ‘Wales Gas-to-energy project: Fueling Guyana’s transition?’, Vishani Ragobeer presented the views of locals, experts and government officials on the use of natural gas, which is also a fossil fuel. Supporting this story was the one by Kemol King, who indicated with his story that Guyana is not ready to go electric with its transportation.
Apart from the energy transition, farmers in Guyana are willing to adapt to climate change. Most farmers are already being affected, flooding, dryness, coastal erosion, and more. They are in need of support to adapt and also to address loss and damage fund, a topic that our four Caribbean fellows covered extensively during COP27.
- Breakthrough in loss and damage funding at COP27? | 📝 Kelesha Williams
- Loss and damage a remarkable reversal of direction | 📝 Tyrell Gittens
- Trinidad and Tobago development minister calls for climate financing | 📝 Ryan Bachoo
- ‘Global South’ countries declare COP27 a case of loss and damage inaction | 📝 Dizzanne Billy
Our Guyanese citizen climate journalism fellow, Monica Hugh, identified in her story that a lack of capital is the biggest climate action issue in Guyana, while Ronald Taylor showcased that farmers are willing to adapt to climate change.
Trinidad and Tobago
It’s no surprise then that our fellows from T&T decided to focus on this energy transition predicament, knowing that the country has built on the fortunes of fossil fuels. With her story, Christianne Zakour brought out the dark side of the nation’s dependence on fossil fuel.
In 2011, the government proposed the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a vehicular fuel in the budget. Fewer carbon emissions would equate to lower overall contributions to climate change by the country. This topic was also covered by our fellow Rayann Gilbert.
Trinidad-based enterprise Southern Caribbean Cable Company wants to generate renewable energy from these features and develop an underwater cable network which interconnects renewable energy around the region.
The study shows that the energy transition in the Caribbean can be achieved much quicker if countries in the region work together. With his story, Tyrell Gittens is highlighting this interesting study that is not getting as much as attention from governments.
And with all the studies and energy transition projects going on, do we ever think about the people working in the oil and gas industry? What awaits them? In Ryan Bachoo’s story, we learn about the opportunities for retooling and re-schooling in the transition.
For decades, the majority of Jamaica’s energy has been derived from imported coal, petroleum, and oil products.
Tamoy Campbell simplified the national policy framework of Jamaica in her story in line with the National Energy Policy of Jamaica and looked at Jamaica’s track record and its ability to make an eco-friendlier transition to cleaner and renewable energy.
According to a report on electricity prices for households by Global Petrol Prices, as of March 2022, Jamaica is progressing towards its goal of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and heavy oil energy consumption. However, it is doing so very slowly. With her story, Fiona Daniels shows that Jamaica has a long way to go yet.
The business world in Jamaica has realised this and continues to tap into the renewable energy market as the country aims for a reduction of its dependence on fossil fuels. One such business is Real Power Solutions highlighted by Candice Stewart.
This company is committed to contributing to the Vision Plan of Jamaica.
Even though Suriname is known as a High Forest/Low Deforestation (HLDF) country, the actions of other countries do have an impact on our climate on a global scale. For communities where communication with government officials is limited, their representatives strive for effective communication.
In his story, Lorenso Kasmani showcased the effects of climate change on Indigenous communities and the lack of communication from the side of the government. The rural communities, who are mostly dependent on wild meat, fish, and farming, fear that at some point everything will be gone due to climate change.
Similarly, Priscilla Misiekaba-Kia expressed the concerns of communities dependent on natural resources. In her story, she shares that on a national level, fishing stocks have tremendously decreased. Even though this has been noticed for years, no study has been done to look at the cause.
Nevertheless, Suriname is trying to adapt to climate change and making progress towards green energy. Even some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been doing their part. Rubia Berghout from the Climate Citizen Journalism Fellowship worked on the story of a local NGO focusing together with another NGO, SITA on E-waste.
Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship
During the Climate Justice fellowship every month a story needs to be published in one of the local media. So far seven stories have been published. Here are the stories of journalists from the countries we work in.
Puerto Ricans will likely spend this Christmas without their time-honoured tradition of eating plantains with dinner, after Hurricane Fiona destroyed 80 percent of the island’s plantain and banana crops in September. And with climate change causing an increase in such extreme weather events across the Caribbean, this might become a new normal for the Puerto Ricans. Read more about this in the story of journalist Carlos Edill Berríos Polanco.
In Dominica, Persons with Disabilities stand to be the most disadvantaged group due to the effects of climate change. Maureen Valmond looked at the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the climate cshange discourse.
With the trauma of Hurricane Dorian still lingering, Abaco and Grand Bahama residents braced for Hurricane Nicole as they experienced another unfair blow of climate injustice. Deandre Williamson did her story from a climate justice perspective, the storm had on the Bahamas.
The agriculture industry is one of the most crucial economic sectors in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Richardeen Williams is telling the story of the brunt effects of climate change on small farmers.
Looking at all the good work our fellows did in 2022, I am very excited for 2023 to work with a lot more journalists and citizens in the region.
In unity against climate change!