Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has underscored the importance of a new universal climate agreement, saying it is ???vitally necessary??? if countries are to avoid the most serious consequences as a result of global warming.

He made the comments while addressing the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative Panel Discussion at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21), now under way in Paris.

Mr. Stuart reminded all that the new agreement the leaders were hoping to achieve was aimed at promoting a low-carbon, sustainable future that limits the global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius.

???The effects of climate change are everywhere and it is clearly one of the most challenging issues facing the world in the 21st century. Climate change can easily impact on almost every aspect of our lives,??? he remarked.

Mr. Stuart noted, however, that the deployment of renewable energy technologies, coupled with the efficient utilisation of energy, offered immeasurable opportunities for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Partners to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel consumption, dependency on imported fuel and the related costs.

The Prime Minister applauded the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on rising to the occasion and forging partnerships with SIDS to assist them in their sustainable energy transformations through the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative.

He noted that the initiative, which was launched at the United Nations Summit in October 2014, is a framework for action designed to assist SIDS Partners in addressing the main facets of the global energy trilemma – energy security, environmental sustainability and energy equity.

Mr. Stuart continued: ???With the support of the IRENA, SIDS Partners will develop renewable energy roadmaps that holistically address all relevant components, ranging from policy and market frameworks to technological opportunities, as well as to capacity building and institutional strengthening. Such a road map is now being undertaken in Barbados by IRENA, and is scheduled to be completed next year.

???It is proposed that within the first five years of this project, the focus of this initiative will be on the power sector, with the aim of mobilising USD $500 million and the deployment of at least 120 megawatts of new solar photovoltaic and wind generation systems.

It is also expected that a significant amount of installed capacity related to small hydropower and geothermal energy will be achieved and marine technology projects will be under way,??? he disclosed.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the Lighthouses Initiative would promote coordination and support among the islands, to assist in their transformation to a sustainable energy future through partnerships with public, private, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations.

???Furthermore, SIDS Partners will gain access to policy and regulatory advisory services; a network to share information, knowledge and best practices; technical expertise during project life cycles; as well as financing mechanisms for projects, capacity building and policy and regulatory design,??? he explained.

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