Mia Amor Mottley

(flashback)‘Try harder ‘: Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley speaks during yesterday’s opening ceremony of the COP26 UN Climate Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland.

—Photo: AP

Joy is often stolen by comparison. Trinbagonians continue to rob ourselves of potential joy because of the continued comparison of our Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, with the Prime of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley. I am guilty because I want so much more for my country, and I worry that I can see no clear direction.

Both prime ministers recently addressed the 26th Annual Conference of the Parties (COP26) and discussed the impact of climate change on island economies. Ten days after their addresses, Prime Minister Mottley has had more than 335,000 views, while Prime Minister Rowley has had fewer than 3,000 views. That data is instructive and should provide a moment for pause, reflection and hopefully redesigning of our strategy.

PM Mottley called for the leaders to “try harder. Try harder because our people, the climate army, the world, the planet, need our actions now—not next year, not in the next decade”. How right she was then and continues to be. Trinidad and Tobago needs to take action now to salvage our economy and therefore our country.

Our prime minister articulated a series of plans which we have embarked upon to get to net-zero carbon emissions. He reiterated our economy is largely based on oil and gas and petrochemicals, and stated: “We in Trinidad and Tobago recognise our responsibility in transitioning, over reasonable and manageable time, to net zero. We have set very ambitious targets aimed at diversifying our economy. We have embarked upon ambitious plans to reduce emissions and build climate resilience, but we will need help.”

There is a lot to be joyful about here because it means there are plans and proposals for the transformation of our economy. COP26 gave many of us a peek into the strategies of our country and the work that is being done for us to get to net zero. Here’s what I learned about my country:

• “We are in the process of establishing the largest utility-scale solar renewable energy project in the Caribbean with a capacity of 112 megawatts, accounting for ten per cent of our power needs, and we plan to increase this complement to 30 per cent by 2030;

• We have developed an e-mobility policy and we are already implementing measures to phase-in electric vehicles;

• We recognise the need to address the socio-economic issues associated with the energy transition and have developed a Just Transition of the Workforce Policy aimed at re-skilling, retooling, and developing new capacity for a low-carbon economy;

• We are pursuing measures to facilitate investment in green hydrogen to provide green feedstock to our vibrant petrochemical industry.

• We intend to explore the use of industry-generated CO2 in possible carbon sequestration projects.

The problem with these intentions is that the average citizen is unaware of them. All we see in Parliament is the daily cussing and blaming of the Opposition for our current status.

Six years into the PNM’s current term in office, it is time to stop the blame game and sell us on the joy of achievement as we pursue these ambitious plans. Thank you, Prime Minister Mottley, for reminding us to “try a little harder”.

Dennise Demming

Diego Martin

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