The Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) will not be a panacea for the challenges faced by the region, but it will set the tone for this region???s sustainable development, energy and climate change goals.

This view was expressed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today as he addressed the inauguration of the CCREEE at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

He told his audience that climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as energy access and security, were the underpinning pillars to achieving sustainable development within the Caribbean region and must therefore be addressed in a holistic manner.

Mr. Stuart said: ???The harsh reality is that with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean countries import 90 per cent of our energy which, because of our reliance on oil, and the volatility in the international oil market, limits our competitiveness as a region and acts as a brake on economic growth. For Barbados, this equates to over BDS$700 million per annum.

???We in the Caribbean region are painfully aware of these limitations, for every day we bear the burden of being susceptible to the vagaries of international oil prices, being net importers of petroleum products.???

He pointed out that 20 per cent of the region???s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was spent on petroleum imports and that an increase of US$10 in the price of crude oil leads to a decline of 1.5 per cent in the region???s GDP. He noted that Barbados??? analysis showed that percentage could reach up to two per cent.

Underscoring the importance of the Centre, Mr. Stuart said it fell within the context of dealing with the challenges of petroleum-based economies in a holistic way. ???The Centre fits within the CARICOM Energy Policy, one of our major achievements, along with the assessment for the preparation of a Caribbean Sustainable Energy Road Map and Strategy, and the setting of regional targets for the penetration of renewable energy in the energy mix.

???The Caribbean Centre???will therefore be in a sense the implementation mechanism for the region???s sustainable energy programmes. It is an innovative initiative embarked upon to address the issues related to energy security, energy access for productive uses and climate change mitigation in the Member States of the Caribbean Community in an integrated manner.???

According to the Prime Minister, the Centre would provide the Caribbean with the specialised institutional capacity required to develop its abundant renewable energy resources. He added that it was expected to assist the countries in improving the use of energy by the wider society; promote a low carbon economy, reduce dependence on imported fuels; and increase their resilience to climate change.

Mr. Stuart stressed that it would also be the coordinating regional hub and think tank for sustainable energy issues and activities. He stated that the Centre would add significant value to regional energy planning and provide improved access to sustainable energy services and support for emerging technologies.

???This facility will contribute to the global 2030 objectives of the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL) Initiative, and will assist both in improving energy security and in mitigation of the negative externalities of regional energy systems,??? he disclosed.

Speakers during the morning ceremony included Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Dominica to the United Nations and Chairman, SIDS DOCK, Dr. Vince Henderson; Special Representative of the Director General on Energy and Director, Energy Branch, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Dr. Pradeep Monga; Head of the European Delegation, Mikael Barfod; Managing Director of the Austrian Development Agency, Martin Ledolter; and Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.

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