REMARKS BY VALERIE LABOY, ECONOMIC AND COMMERCIAL OFFICER
U.S. EMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN
CLIMATE MEET AND GREET
MARRIOTT COURTYARD HOTEL
AUGUST 25, 2022
Thank you Chargé and thank you all for joining us today. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many of you over various virtual platforms and its such a joy to be able to see all of you in person. A huge motivation for this event is to expand our network of partners working on issues of climate change. I am so excited to speak with everyone in the course of the next few hours and I know my colleagues around the room are as well.
But why are we all here today? We’re here because humanity faces an existential challenge that will only be addressed with efforts from across the world, across government and industry, and across different disciplines. It’s why we invited academics, engineers, activists, businesspeople, and government officials to this gathering.
To face that existential challenge, I’d like to highlight some of the key ways that the U.S. government is partnering with the region and with Trinidad and Tobago to tackle the climate crisis. I’ll then speak a little about domestic developments in the United States and then I’m really looking forward to what Mr. Kumarsingh will share about the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s priorities.
I’ll start us off in June of this year, when senior officials, members of civil society, and private sector representatives of the U.S. Government, and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago joined other leaders from the Western Hemisphere in Los Angeles for the Ninth Summit of the Americas. The theme of the meeting was: “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future,” and during the summit, leaders responded to our region’s most pressing issues, including the climate crisis.
Recognizing the unique and evolving climate and security challenges facing Caribbean countries discussed before and during the Summit, the Biden-Harris Administration has committed to working together on solutions.
As a result, during the Ninth Summit, Vice President Harris announced the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 or, PACC 2030. PACC 2030 is the Biden-Harris Administration’s initiative for climate adaptation and resilience, and clean energy programs across the Caribbean region. Our comprehensive, adaptive, and goal-oriented approach will support our Caribbean neighbors and friends in addressing energy security, and climate adaptation and resilience with the urgency that these challenges demand. This approach recognizes that all countries in the region are vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events and require support to address these challenges.
PACC 2030 activities and programs will take place in four pillars:
- Improving Access to Development Financing
- Facilitating Clean Energy Project Development and Investment
- Enhancing Local Capacity Building
- Deepening Collaboration with our Caribbean Partners
Through pACC2030 and our other initiatives, the U.S. Embassy will continue to recognize the specific areas where we can advance our shared bilateral strategic interests with this twin-island republic. Just last month, a team from the Embassy led by our Charge traveled to lovely Tobago for a special opportunity to positively impact both climate change and citizen security. In a project that demonstrated what is possible, we partnered with government and private sector partners to showcase how the specific actions we take in our daily lives can reduce the footprint we leave on the environment.
Through the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, or INL, the Embassy donated 12 electric bicycles to TTPS to restart Tobago’s Tourism Oriented Police. This project also improved community safety for both citizens and visitors, built trust between communities and law enforcement, promoted more sustainable solutions to challenges, and demonstrated that we can achieve more when our governments and private sectors work together.
These eBikes will assist the Tourism Oriented Police unit to patrol larger areas more frequently, and improve their response time to an incident. The American Chamber of Commerce, and in particular Amerijet, partnered with INL to fund two portable solar powered eBike charging stations, one in Shirvan, and the other at the Roxborough Police Station. So next time you’re in Tobago, look out for the Tourism Oriented Police officers on the road!
Another exciting development that will deepen our collaboration with partners across the country is the upcoming establishment of a USAID satellite office. This office will open in September and strengthen our engagement on resilience and rule of law programming. Even before the establishment of the office, USAID has been active locally and regionally, including in strengthening disaster response systems regionally, nationally, and at the community level through a partnership with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency to build out climate and disaster monitoring systems with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology.
On a community-level, USAID has partnered with the Inter-American Foundation to build resilience among community-based organizations. In the energy sector, activities under USAID’s Caribbean Energy Initiative will focus on improving the resilience of the power sector as well as support the growth of the renewable energy market through the leveraging of private sector investment and expertise.
On a domestic level, as a citizen of the United States, I am proud of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law just days ago. This legislation makes the single largest investment in climate and energy in American history, enables the United States to tackle the climate crisis, advances environmental justice, strengthens our domestic clean energy manufacturing and supply chains, and creates and sustains good-paying union jobs in construction and manufacturing. The Energy Security and Climate Change Investments in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 also accelerate U.S. emission cuts and put the United States on a path to reduce greenhouse gases by 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, getting us closer to our Paris Agreement goal. This is particularly important as we are looking forward to a robust COP-27 in Egypt this November.
Ladies and gentlemen, climate change is a shared global crisis that requires collective action. We will all suffer the consequences if we fail, most especially the vulnerable islands that are the essence of the Caribbean. We have a narrow moment to pursue action in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of this crisis.
In that spirit, I’d like to recognize Mr. Hannibal Anyika of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries who will depart tomorrow on the State Department’s Climate and Energy Innovation in the Caribbean International Visitor Leadership exchange program. I’d also direct community organizations, academic institutions, and NGOs to the Embassy’s webpage as our small grants window remains open until September 15 and we are still accepting proposals that advance issues including countering climate change.
Partners, we work with all of you because we are neighbors, friends, and family. We share the land and the seas of this hemisphere and both of our countries are experiencing the effects of climate change, whether in historic droughts and wildfires, elevated rainfall leading to flooding, and ever more unpredictable and destructive storms.
We look forward to continuing to collaborate on initiatives that enable an energy transition, lower emissions, and protect the vulnerable from the climate crisis. Thank you, I wish everyone a pleasant afternoon, and please join me in welcoming Mr. Kumarsingh.