Wednesday 23 September, 2020

The green vote: Here's what 5 parties have planned

Photo via iStock.

Photo via iStock.

Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are proof that environmental issues can no longer be shoved aside.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Trinidad and Tobago’s electricity consumption increased by 266 percent since 1990, while carbon dioxide emissions increased by 125 percent.

A report by the Inter-American Development Bank cited BP’s 2013 Statistical Review in which natural gas consumption accounted for approximately 92 percent of the country's energy usage, while consumption of petroleum products was just under 8 percent.

The country's use of renewable fuels was stated as ‘negligible’ in 2009.

The country’s carbon dioxide emissions per capita are also among the highest in the world and T&T has since committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2030.

Ahead of the August 10 general election, what do the parties have to offer for the green economy?

Here's what five of the parties have proposed:

People’s National Movement (PNM)

1. Solar energy plants

The PNM’s Manifesto, available online, did not display a specific section for environment issues, but under the section Energy and Energy Industries, outlined a plan for two solar 130MW Renewable Energy Solar projects which would be constructed on a ‘Build, Own, and Operate Basis’.

According to the manifesto, the projects would be awarded to a consortium of Lightsource Bp, BPTT and Shell to build two solar energy plants with a capital investment of US$123 Million (TT$835M).

The PNM said these projects would satisfy the country's commitment to the Paris Agreement.

To date, funding has already been secured from the EU for the creation of a solar park at the Piarco International Airport.

The party also pledges the following:

  • Implement an Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Policy and Action Plan
  • Develop an Integrated Resource Plan to manage the phased implementation RE, with a target of RE meeting 30% of demand by 2030
  • Introduce tax credits to encourage investment in CCS and EOR
  • Implement the legislative changes needed to allow net-metering for small-scale RE electricity generation projects enabling excess sales to TTEC
  • Invest in energy efficiency to create opportunities for local service companies and implement the existing tax credits
  • Accelerate the CNG conversion programme
  • Promote the use of Electric Vehicles through appropriate incentives for the installation of battery charging equipment and infrastructure
  • Promote the use of Hybrid Vehicles through appropriate concessions
  • Encourage EE, rewarding households with the lowest electricity usage

(Photo via iStock)

2. Green Petrochemicals

The party said a project is already underway for green petrochemicals, which involves the substitution of hydrogen from the natural gas reform process with hydrogen from electrolysis.

‘There is an active project currently being pursued in this area, which proposes to initially utilise steam that is currently wasted from an existing power station to run a new turbine to produce electricity from hydrogen electrolysis. In the future there is also the potential to use renewable energy to produce hydrogen.’

 

2. Food sustainability

Under Agriculture, the PNM’s manifesto includes a plan to ‘invest in artificial intelligence-driven systems that build and expand credible agricultural databases and inform decision making for better harvests and environmental conditions’.

The plan includes the creation of a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in high-value and indigenous agricultural products.

 

3. Climate-smart agriculture

The party proposes to provide climate-smart agricultural practices, such as:

  • Promote increased environmental security through processes such as the use of waste to energy biofuels and other waste reuse techniques such as composting for home gardens to reduce landfill waste
  • Increase carbon sequestration through incentivising large-scale tree crop fruit and lumber production and environmental aesthetics
  • Develop the Blue Economy through the sustainable use and management of marine and coastal resources via the use of evidence-based decision-making
  • Examine the introduction of “Climate proofing” interventions, particularly for small-scale fisheries businesses to build resilience and mitigate against adverse climate impacts
  • Strengthen Water Management (including review of WASA policy in the context of water for agriculture) and engage the energy drilling companies to locate new ground water sources for agriculture

The party also proposes to: ‘Develop industries which produce bioethanol, biodiesel, and biogas from organic waste which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and lowers the risk of pollution to waterways while reducing the burden on landfills.’

For more of the party’s plans see https://pnmtt.live/2020manifesto/

(Photo via iStock)

United National Congress (UNC)

The UNC has likewise outlined several environmental initiatives in its 2020 proposal.

1. Tamana Solar Energy Park

The UNC has proposed the creation of a solar energy park at Tamana which will be funded through private investors:

‘We will invite private investors to establish a ‘SolarTech’ Park within the Tamana In-Tech Park. The ‘SolarTech’ Park will develop energy efficient modular solar solutions which can be retrofitted to existing buildings or integrated into new construction projects and used in several other areas such as marine, communication and transport.

‘Tamana ‘SolarTech’ will access and supply solar technologies through licensing and supply agreements and customise the product to provide specialist and turnkey energy solutions to communities within the Caribbean region.’

The party says investors will be required to ‘fully finance their own solar projects’ in the Tamana park, and that government would provide ‘all necessary support required to fast track implementation of investors’ plans, as well as tax incentives’.

 

2. Brechin Castle Agro Processing Complex

The party proposes an agro-processing complex which will utilise zero-waste technologies and increase food sustainability:

‘On average, Trinidad and Tobago spends $510 million every year importing preserved vegetables and fruits and fresh juices. We will invite private investors to establish an agro-processing (preserving, drying and canning) complex at Brechin Castle.

‘This facility will capitalise on the supply from the agricultural parks such as locally grown fruits and vegetables (pineapple, pepper, pawpaw, chaitaigne, melongene, cocoa and coconut), new crops (potatoes, peanuts, chick peas, sorghum, millet) and organic ‘superfoods’ (turmeric, moringa, gluten free flours such cassava and green banana flour).

‘A zero waste policy will ensure byproducts from agro-processing can be used as feed stock for farmers. Investors will be required to fully finance the building of their own agro-processing complex.’

The party said government will provide the necessary support and tax incentives.

Government will retain a minority equity position in the agro-processing complex in exchange for any land provided.

 

3. Recycling facility

The UNC also proposes to ban all single-use plastic and styrofoam products by 2025. 

The party said the five-year transition period will allow manufacturers/distributors sufficient time to reposition their brands or introduce new recyclable products.

The party also proposes a pilot project providing a $0.25 refund for a deposit paid on every can or plastic bottle which is brought in for recycling. 

The party plans to 'develop a network of Waste Collection Centres/Materials Recovery Facilities in work places and public spaces' which will allow the public to drop off recyclable and reusable materials which cannot be picked up curbside. 

The party also proposes fiscal incentives to encourage manufacturers to produce eco-friendly products, including the removal of import duties on 100 percent recyclable materials. 

The party also promised the provision of seed funding from a repurposed Green Fund for development of innovations for re-use, as well as recycling of materials and incentives to encourage small businesses to enter the Recycling Industry.

For more of the party’s plans see http://uncplan2020.com/

Movement for Social Justice (MSJ)

The MSJ’s manifesto outlines '10 Points for August 10’, and said it's not a full listing of all their plans but is limited to what the party’s five candidates can achieve.

1. Marijuana

MSJ proposes to provide land for traditional users of marijuana for the purpose of commercialisation:

‘Provision of land for traditional users of marijuana for them to engage in commercial farming of the herb; co-ops for them to produce oils, etc and to retail the herb and related products.’

 

2. Improve land use policies for farmers

In terms of food sustainability, the party proposes the following:

  • Push for the implementation of a land use policy that would protect agricultural land;
  • Ensure that all bona fide farmers get security of tenure
  • Address issues of water supply and irrigation; flood mitigation
  • Have all state lands – ex-Caroni and Petrotrin lands - suitable for agriculture put into productive use

The party also proposes a CARICOM Food Security Plan.

 

3. No mega-projects

The MSJ’s Point 7 outlines a reduction in mega-projects, focusing instead on maintenance and investment into the country’s existing infrastructure:

  • Minimise new mega-projects – and refocus investment in the maintainance of our extensive physical capital.
  • Retrofit buildings to withstand natural disasters
  • Extensive infrastructure work – drainage, land slips etc to mitigate natural disasters
  • Investment in renewable energy
  • Solid Waste management

For more information see https://www.msjtnt.org/organization/documents/10-points-august-10-msj-ge2020-manifesto/

(Photo via iStock)

Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP)

The PEP has outlined several policies as follows:

1. Plastic bottle policy

The party proposes to apply a tax to plastic bottles at the manufacture or importing state, and to redeem the tax for the return of discarded bottles to encourage ‘environmental cleanup’ and ‘generate revenue for those least employable and most in need’.

 

2. Marijuana

The party also proposed to decriminalise marijuana. Marijuana is currently legal for personal use for up to 30 grams or up to four plants.

The party also proposes the commercialisation and export of the plant and its products.

 

3. Renewable energy

The party proposes the development of renewable energy such as wind farms, solar arrays and tidal generators.

For more information see https://peptt.com/policies/

(Photo via iStock)

Trinidad Humanity Campaign (THC)

The THC lists several ideas for sustainable development. Some of the party’s plans, as per their manifesto, are as follows:

1. Investment in renewables

The party has developed a plan for renewable development as follows:

  • Wind turbines for small projects, attached to public buildings
  • Transparent photovoltaic glass, used to generate electricity
  • Triboelectric generators which use sun and rain to generate electricity
  • Tidal energy generators on the country’s Atlantic coast
  • Bladeless wind turbines

The party said it will seek to amend legislation to make it easier for citizens to access renewable energy.

 

2. Above-ground rail system

To reduce carbon emissions and traffic, the party proposes an above-ground rail system from Port of Spain to San Fernando, and from the intersection of the Solomon Hochoy Highway and the Uriah Butler Highway to Valencia.

‘This proposed project will only be undertaken with full investment from a private or local foreign investor and will be structures where the investor retains 90 percent ownership until the capital investment is cleared, from which point the government will then own 51 percent.’

 

3. Recycling bins in all homes

The party also proposed the use of recycling bins in every household and the arranging of a collection system for them in cities and towns.

The party suggests that those who do not use the system should pay for traditional garbage collection privately.

The party says all taxes for the importation of recycling bins and bags will also be removed.

To complement this, the party says it will implement material sorting, recovery, cleaning and shredding facilities and engage private/public partnerships for the recycling operations for plastics.

 

4. Waste-to-energy plants

THC also proposes waste-to-energy companies which will operate at a 90 percent return to the private sector until the capital investment is cleared, from which point the government will own 51 percent.

 

5. Revamping landfills

The party has pledged to provide solutions to the country’s overburdened landfills, which have been known to contribute smoke and other toxins.

The party said it will bring legislation to close the existing landfills and set up new sites away from populated areas, which meet international standards.

The party said businesses which depend on these landfills would be relocated so they can continue their operations.

 

6. Plastic bottle deposit

Like other parties, the THC also proposes a bottle deposit for all liquid containers, where consumers would pay a deposit, returnable once the bottle is brought back for recycling.

The party said it also seeks to revamp legislation on single plastics, increasing taxes on single use plastic containers to convince manufacturers to switch to environmentally friendly options.

For more information and to see the full manifesto click here: https://bit.ly/3kb4u53

 

What are some green initiatives you would like the next government to implement?

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