Remarks by Ambassador Candace Bond
Caribbean Climate Investment Program – Energy and Climate Financing for Trinidad and Tobago
La Boucan Conference Room, Hilton Trinidad and Tobago,
Port of Spain, Trinidad
September 5, 2023, 9:05 a.m.
It is an honor to welcome you to today’s Energy and Climate Financing for Trinidad and Tobago event as we launch the new Caribbean Climate Investment Program to advance climate change goals by unlocking the potential of the private sector.
Our world is in peril. The climate crisis is accelerating while our response remains too slow. As the earth overheats towards that critical 1.5 degree Celsius threshold, immediate action is needed more than ever.
Acting on climate is about transforming our economies, particularly our energy systems, through investments in net-zero, climate adaption, and nature-positive technologies.
Achieving this transformation will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. It will cost us approximately 2.4 trillion U.S. dollars each year through 2030. That’s trillion, with a ‘t’.
The Biden-Harris Administration has made addressing climate change one of its top priorities. In 2022, at the Summit of the Americas, the United States government launched the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, more commonly known as PACC 2030.
This initiative sets the basis for joint collaboration to address key climate challenges with particular emphasis on the transition to renewable energy as we work toward meeting the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Today’s event, the launch of the Caribbean Climate Investment Program, is a part of PACC 2030’s focus on energy security, climate adaptation, and renewable energy in the Caribbean region.
We know that government and public funds alone cannot fund the green transformation of our economies. Green transformation requires innovation and investment from the private sector. Entrepreneurs, small businesses, and large corporations must be part of the solution.
Even as I know that the Caribbean is facing the worst of climate change, I also know that the people of the Caribbean are among the most creative and talented in the world.
You may have seen me on the road for mas, at an art gallery, or in a pan yard, so trust me, I know that if there’s a part of the world that can dream big and turn those dreams into something real, I’m living in it!
I was so amazed to hear how it was discarded machinery and, in some cases, steel oil drums, that led to the creation of the majestic steel orchestras Trinidad and Tobago is known for internationally. In a country that took waste materials from what used to be such a dirty industry and cleaned them up, tuned them, and developed the only instrument created in the 20th century, I know it’s just a matter of time and momentum until that innovation is also applied to the climate crisis, resulting in the climate renaissance that we all know is possible.
In this audience there are inventors who are building the clean energy technologies to help decarbonize and stretch the lifespan of Trinidad and Tobago’s historic energy production.
There are innovators who are using nature to adapt to sudden and slow-onset impacts of climate change and investors that see the job creation and economic potential and are willing to bet on blue-and-green businesses.
The participation and support of all stakeholders is absolutely necessary if Trinidad and Tobago is going to achieve its Nationally Determined Contributions — or “NDCs” under the Paris Agreement.
As a country that has fossil fuels at the backbone of its economy, Trinidad and Tobago has made the bold move of aspiring to achieve 30 percent renewable energy in the national mix by 2030. To me, that speaks to the recognition that renewable energy can serve as a complement, rather than a threat, to Trinidad and Tobago’s energy value chain.
Furthermore, Trinidad and Tobago has set ambitious targets for reducing emissions from the power generation, industrial, and transportation sectors by 15 percent by 2030 compared to a business-as-usual baseline. Lowering those emissions means innovation, technology, and job creation in cutting edge industries such as electrification, electric mobility, and carbon capture, use, and storage.
But these climate change targets should not be limited to the initiatives of the oil and gas industry.
They are applicable to other sectors as well, such as sustainable housing, increased energy efficiency, the decarbonization of port operations, and adaptation of farming practices which all contribute to building a resilient economy.
And the private sector has a special role to play in this transformation.
It must create opportunities for re-skilling and up-skilling the current and future workforce, making the strategic investments that will enable Trinidad and Tobago to transition to a green economy. Why must they do it? Because there is economic output, job creation, and profit to be made in being on the cutting edge of this global growth industry.
This collective dedication to creating meaningful change will pave the way for a clean energy transition, increasing climate financing opportunities, allowing for a renewed focus on adaptation, and creating opportunities for partnerships to flourish.
This is where the Caribbean Climate Investment Program, or CCIP, can assist.
CCIP accelerates the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies as well as climate adaptation solutions in 11 Caribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago.
It works to promote private sector financing for climate adaptation and mitigation technologies in the Caribbean region, focused on scaling up the transition to an equitable and resilient net-zero-emissions economy.
CCIP provides business development services and technical assistance to private sector partners working with renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
The program also provides access to finance, de-risking instruments, and lending products to climate finance-seekers working with renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
Last but not least, CCIP provides technical and financial support to businesses, communities, partner governments, and other entities in developing, scaling, or improving adaptation practices and technologies.
You will be hearing more about the objectives of the CCIP and opportunities for collaboration from our partners here this morning.
While CCIP is regional, it has special relevance to Trinidad and Tobago as addressing energy security and building climate resilience will unlock new economic opportunities, extend the life of its energy economy, and safeguard our communities.
We’ve organized today’s event in close collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
The Chamber focuses on supporting small – and medium sized enterprises in accessing climate finance towards clean energy and climate adaptation projects.
Therefore, I encourage you to schedule meetings with the USAID-CCIP team and engage in an open dialogue on how your organization can apply for this mechanism and capitalize on the access to one-on-one support that is offered.
The team will be available to speak with you over the next three days at the offices of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
Our commitment to your success goes beyond this event, and we stand ready to be your partners on this journey to transformation.
Looking ahead, I am excited to lead a delegation of business in renewable energy from Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas, and Jamaica to the largest renewable energy trade show in North America, RE+. We’ll be heading to Las Vegas next week to tell U.S. companies and the global industry all about the opportunities in this region while showing the Caribbean companies all the technology and innovation taking place in the United States.
It is another opportunity to secure partnerships, amplify our voices, and promote Trinidad and Tobago businesses.
It is also a reaffirmation of the U.S. government’s commitment to supporting Trinidad and Tobago’s just transition, the decarbonization and clean energy agenda, and our dedication to foster business growth in pursuit of a sustainable future.
Before I conclude, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce for their steadfast partnership with USAID.
It is through their collaboration that the U.S. government continues to empower small and medium-sized businesses, creating a legacy of innovation and progress.
In closing, let us remember that the path to a sustainable future is not solitary; it’s one that we walk together.
Our journey is defined by collaboration, innovation, and unwavering determination. Together, we have the power to create a world that thrives on the ideals of sustainability, resilience, and shared prosperity.