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Wind, Solar, Coconuts: SIDS and Climate Change

Wind, Solar, Coconuts: SIDS and Climate Change

Renewable energy is having a hard enough time becoming mainstream on the mainland, but when small island developing states, or SIDS, decide to take energy matters into their own hands – by even adding coconuts to their portfolio – one has to wonder: what’s the hang up for larger countries?

Besides some of the obvious factors, the primary factor being islands have relatively small populations and therefore demand less energy, islands states, particularly tropical islands, come ripe with plenty of sunshine, ocean wind and, of course, coconuts.  What do coconuts and coconut palms have to do with renewable energy?  Well, coconut palms not only supply coconuts, which are a renewable food source, but are a “naturally recyclable source of a wide range of products, including transportation fuel, oil … and fiber.”

Kokonut Pacific, an Australian company, has tapped into this iconic island market and has been relatively successful at getting island nation states to make use of coconuts and coconut palms in a sustainable, low-impact way.  SIDS are beginning to see a self-sufficient economy developing, one that combines a renewable energy portfolio with economic and environmental sustainability.

Bold action and creativity, while commendable, nevertheless fails to account for the fact that climate change does not operate in isolation, but impacts the globe aggregately. The carbon released in the Canadian tar sands, for example, will inevitably influence sea level rise in the Pacific Ocean and there’s not much a small island can do to abate that.

Dire predictions in mind, island nation states are serious when it comes to climate change and they should be; islands like the Maldives are predicted to experience devastating effects of global warming, including the shocking realization that their islands could soon disappear entirely under rising sea levels. The lowest country on Earth, the Maldives, are comprised of 1,200 islands, the highest reaching merely 5 feet above sea level.  With a population of 320,000, President Mohammed Nasheed has been very vocal in expressing his concern over climate model predictions on his nation.

Coming together to express a collective concern, more than 100 heads of state, civil society activists, business executives, ministers, leading development experts and UN officials from nearly 40 SIDS recently attended the UN Development Program’s Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing States conference. Culminating with the Barbados Declaration, a declaration that calls for “universal access to modern and affordable renewable energy services, while protecting environment, ending poverty and creating new opportunities for economic growth,” the governments of 20 SIDS agreed “to take actions toward providing universal access to energy, switching to renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.”  Some highlights of the conference included:

  • Maldives committed to achieve carbon neutrality in the energy sector by 2020
  • Marshall Island aims to electrify all urban households and 95% of rural outer atoll households by 2015
  • Mauritius committed to increasing the share of renewable energy – including solar power, wind energy, hydroelectric power, bagasse and landfill gas – to 35 % or more by 2025
  • Seychelles committed to produce 15% of energy supply from renewable energy by 2030

SIDS face a more direct, immediate impact from climate change than do many other countries given their location.  Fossil fuel imports are expensive, dangerous and unsustainable for these countries, making renewable energy not only a better option for the environment, but a more practical choice economically.  Still, these countries cannot act independently — the international community must unite to address this concern and take the appropriate mitigation steps to ward off any and all mass devastation to these nations.

Climate change is real and is happening now.  The effects can be seen on island states and also on other nations, like our own. Coastal cities like New York, New Orleans, Boston and San Francisco are predicted to experience sea level rise that will have a serious and significant impact on existing infrastructure and the current way of life. Further inland states like Texas and Oklahoma are in line to witness some of the driest conditions we’ve seen in our lifetimes.

Versatile, clean energy portfolios, along with reduced demand and efficiency measures, must be implemented today to combat climate change.  As developed nations, we have a responsibility not to ignore the important action we must take today in order to ensure SIDS, as well as our own nation, prevent, mitigate, and inevitably adapt to a warming world.

Related Stories:

Political Unrest in the Maldives: President Ousted, Supporters Beaten

Why Cuba’s Sustainability is Not an Accident

Obama’s Biggest Climate Decision of the Year May be Palm Oil

Cross-posted from The San Francisco Energy Cooperative

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Photo Credit: Abelson

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53 comments

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9:04AM PST on Feb 7, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

9:51PM PDT on May 23, 2012

thanks

4:07PM PDT on May 23, 2012

S.V. You speak of a date 2020 or possibly 2050, for some the day might well come sooner, thank God that Walmart has salvavidas on sale. That means life preservers.

Alana M. It sounds like you live on St Thomas. My wife and I lived there for many years, I use to worked for Governor Juan Luis and Julio Brady back in early 80's.

Disaster was always pending, with regard to electrical power and even our water supply, then again St. Tommy is just a microcosm of our planet. In those days, i always found time to thank God for Ron De Lugo, you know to whom I speak of. A friend of all, for whom he worked for .

After all, we are all on this space ship circling the sun, after all, nothing lasts forever, but it has been a good ride. Don't you think?

3:55PM PDT on May 23, 2012

S.V. You speak of a date 2020 or possibly 2050, for some the day might well come sooner.

Alana M. It sounds like you live on St Thomas. My wife and I lived there for many years, I use to worked for Governor Juan Luis and Julio Brady back in early 80's.

Disaster was always pending, with regard to electrical power and even our water supply, then again St. Tommy is just a microcosm of our planet.

After all, we are all on a space ship circling the sun, nothing lasts forever, but it has been a good ride. Don't you think?

11:44AM PDT on May 23, 2012

Thanks

8:21AM PDT on May 23, 2012

Our inability to met the challenge lies first in the very name by which we refer to it...Global Warming. Such a term actually plays into the hands of the detractors.

Global Climate Change (GCC) is a term that actually takes into account what every sector in the world is experiencing or will experience in the near future.

To say Global Warming is like calling a solar module, a solar panel. Solar panels are for producing domestic hot water. Solar modules reference the production of electrical power.

Andrew C. Too little, toooo late, Game Over. Man would have to cease all human activity to begin to halt the advance of GCC and are all tooo greedy to pursue change.

Forget recycling, buying a car that gets a few more miles per gallon, all of the things cited as our salvation. The real problem lies in population.

India, China, South America, Central America, so many regions on this planet are now growing at a rate that has never been seen in the past. Demand is quickly out striping supply.

In the near future there will be wars over water, wars over arid-able land, with the rise of water along our coastlines, there will be a forced migration in-land.

My advise...buy a new pair of dancing shoes, and get out there...Before the music STOPS.
Game Over!!!

5:08PM PDT on May 22, 2012

Thanks.

7:24AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Global Warming
Global warming is real, and humans are causing it with environmental destruction, and pollution. This is a FACT.

“But Andrew, volcanoes put out more pollution than human made pollution sources. Derp Derp Herp Derp.”

All of our lives are at stake, and we cannot continue to lend credence to such dumb statements by repeating them.

Volcanoes, and other sources of “natural pollution,” are not pollution. They are a part of nature’s regular cycle that has been going on for millions of years that has already been accounted for, and adjustments made to accommodate it. That is why volcanoes can erupt without killing everything on the planet.

Human environmental destruction, and pollution is not accounted for, or accommodated by nature. Not only because it has not happened over millions of years, but because of the scope and volume of it.

Pollution is not comparative.

It is additive.

2 + 0 = 2 (Natural Cycle)

2 + 2 = 4 (Natural Cycle + Human Impact)

Our planet is dying, and we will die too if we don’t do something about it.

6:43AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Noted,,,,Thanks,,...

5:57AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Thanks.

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