In April 2016, Jamaica was among 179 signatories to the Paris Agreement which essentially tackles the issue of Climate Change.
It is appalling then that the Government of Jamaica would even put thought into use of coal as a fuel for the proposed 1000MW plant to be built by the Chinese. This is essentially a retrograde step in the same week that the government signed a US$7.2 million deal to boost initiatives to tackle climate change.
Coal plants are one of the top sources of CO2 emissions which is primarily the cause of global warming. Jamaica then should be seeking to craft new ways to reduces its carbon emission; not increasing our contribution to a world crisis, unless of course, the GOJ agrees with Donald Trump that this issue is a hoax.
The issues with emissions from coal goes past just climate change to health. Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other particulate matter emitted from these fossil fuel plans hold serious implications for the respiratory health of our people. The heavy metal, Mercury, which owes a huge percentage of its presence in the environment to coal plants, can trigger damage to the brain and heart. These are just a few of the compounds that can lead to serious health issues which we should not be seeking to create especially with our inadequate and underfunded health sector.
While I understand the need for more employment and investments in our country, the government cannot seek to court investors at the expense of our environment. Now is the time to find ways to reduce Jamaica’s carbon footprint- not increase with a coal plant!
This leads me to ask the government: why there is no dedicated environment ministry? And even though we hear that such issues will be overseen by the PM’s mega ministry, why do we not know which, if any of the many ministers in that ministry is dedicated to the issues of climate change?
Any attempt to introduce a coal plant will be staunchly rejected but I take it this is probably just another announcement by the government to test the waters on a controversial issue, as has been the case since it took office. So with the waters now tested, I look forward to the announcement about a clean energy plant.