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Small Island states demonstrate will to tackle climate change

“In the wake of a deadly hurricane season in the Caribbean and at a time when the resolve to tackle the climate crisis has been called into question, small islands are sending the world a clear message: we are seizing the promise of renewable energy to grow our economies today and build a better future for tomorrow,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, energy and environment minister for the Maldives and chair of Alliance of Small Island States.

Ibrahim stated this at the inaugural meeting of the Initiative for Renewable Island Energy (IRIE), hosted by the government of the Maldives, which saw an impressive turnout of 30 countries and organisations in attendance.

The seminar organised in partnership with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicated the determination of small island developing states (SIDS) to strengthening global efforts in addressing climate change and accelerate renewable energy deployment.

Small island developing states have been early and committed adopters of renewable energy, seeking to develop their economies with cost effective, renewables-based energy systems, while enhancing energy security, national resilience and climate adaptation. Read more…

“As chair of AOSIS, Maldives has made leaving a lasting legacy of renewable energy infrastructure in small islands a priority and IRIE is how we are fulfilling that vision,” Ibrahim added.

Small Island states already addressing climate change

According to the IRENA, just over 2GW of renewable technologies are already deployed in SIDS, and at least 6GW of additional capacity is envisaged under Nationally Determined Contributions. A number of countries have set plans to achieve 100% share of renewables in the electricity mix.

“Small island developing nations have been frontrunners in the global drive to scale-up renewables,” noted Adnan Amin, Director-General of the IRENA.

Amin said: “This meeting is further evidence of their collective commitment to strengthen the momentum of the global energy transition as they pursue economic growth, energy security and increased national resilience.

“This ministerial is also particularly timely as we are just a few weeks away from COP23 in Bonn, where the priorities of small island nations will take centre stage under Fiji’s Presidency. We are committed to supporting the renewable energy ambitions of our island partners, through the SIDS Lighthouses initiative, as they take their energy transformation to the next level.”

Challenges facing small islands

Despite progress, SIDS face financial and technical barriers as they transition their power, heating, cooling, and transportation sectors to renewable energy, many of which stem from their size, geography and limited capacity.

Greater international cooperation can help overcome these barriers by enhanced collaboration and knowledge sharing, leading to improved economies of scale, reduced transaction costs and better enabling environments for donors and investors, asserted the IRENA.

IRIE works to enhance AOSIS political coordination and outreach to development partners with a view to mobilising the resources such as finance, technology, and capacity building required for the transformation of energy systems in SIDS. IRIE also works to amplify the success of SIDS focused initiatives, such as IRENA’s SIDS Lighthouses.

Minister Ibrahim noted: “Small islands contribute a miniscule fraction of global emissions and yet we have taken the lead in committing to some of the most ambitious clean energy plans in the world. IRIE is a testament to island leadership and the important role the Maldives has played in the international effort to tackle climate change for over three decades.”

AOSIS is an organisation of 44 low-lying island and coastal nations from around the world that are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.


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Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.