As climate change accelerates, small island nations will suffer a disproportionate share of global consequences already occurring today: sea levels have risen 4-8 inches over the last century, oceans have experienced a 30% increase in acidification since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and tropical storms are expected to increase in intensity on the scale of 2-11% by the end of the 21st century. These anthropogenic driven changes leave island nations vulnerable to devastating consequences, despite contributing very little to global greenhouse gas emissions.
Paradoxically, island nations heavily rely on imported diesel and petroleum products to meet domestic demand, which has resulted in some of the most expensive power prices in the world; in some nations, this price nears US$1 per kilowatt-hour. Imported fuel costs place financial burdens on families and businesses and often deter foreign and domestic investment. Furthermore, the cost of importing energy provisions, which in some instances is greater than 25% of GDP, contributes to high levels of national debt, imbalances in trade, and scarcity of foreign exchange.
To combat the effects of climate change and economic hardships related to imported fuel costs, the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Diesel Replacement Program for islands focuses on deploying renewable energy projects and strategies tailored to the unique characteristics of CCI’s small island nation partners. CCI has partnered with over 20 island governments, all of which have the desire to reduce fossil fuel consumption in order to transition to low-carbon economies based on renewable energy from domestic sources.
The aim of the initiative is to achieve market transformation by expanding clean energy access and reducing electricity costs through the displacement of expensive conventional fuel sources, such as highly pollutive diesel fuel. CCI assists with the design, development, and implementation of renewable energy projects including but not limited to solar, wind, biomass, waste, hydro, geothermal, ocean energy and clean water. CCI also assists in the development of energy efficiency projects to reduce the number of liters of imported diesel fuel. CCI’s partnerships with public and private institutions worldwide enable renewable energy deployment and greenhouse gas abatement to be achieved through international collaborative efforts.
With urgent implementation of these projects, small island nations have the potential to reshape their economic and environmental destiny and initiate clean energy programs that can spur action worldwide.