Jamaica is on a tightrope between boosting the economy and cutting emissions in the COVID-19 era – Global Issues

Jamaica is on a tightrope between boosting the economy and cutting emissions in the COVID-19 era – Global Issues

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Animal husbandry in Jamaica. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS
  • by Zadie Neufville (kingston)
  • Inter Press Service

Under the plan, the country would reduce emissions from both sectors by nearly a third over the next decade by optimizing water and energy consumption and diversifying food production.

Released at a time when most countries around the world were struggling to manage their economies during the pandemic using measures expected to roll back their sustainability goals, experts hailed the plan as a game changer for a country in a steep economic downturn like as a result of COVID-19.

Climate change expert Carlos Fuller said the new measures will “create new economic opportunities and create jobs for Jamaicans.”

Land-use changes, for development and increased agricultural activities, and curbing deforestation will reduce emissions by 28.5 percent by 2030, according to the plan, which meets both local and international targets. Agriculture currently contributes about six percent of Jamaica’s total emissions, while land use change and forestry account for 7.8 percent.

Jamaica is one of the small island states (SIDS) in the Caribbean. On Monday and Tuesday, representatives from the 38 SIDS worldwide, UN agencies and civil society will meet in person and online to discuss how to kickstart their post-COVID-19 economies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 .

The SIDS Solution Forum is organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in conjunction with the UN International Telecommunications Union and co-hosted by the Government of Fiji.

Other current investments in Jamaica have prioritized the collection, modeling and analysis of climate data. Projects such as the Climate Data and Information Management Project should help improve the collection and analysis of climate data while strengthening early warning systems. The Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project is expected to increase physical resilience to disasters.

Co-Heads of the Climate Studies Group at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Michael Taylor and Dr. Tannecia Stephenson, recently deciphered the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in terms of what it could mean for the region.

“The intensity and frequency of extreme heat in the Caribbean is increasing and will continue to do so. It will affect energy consumption, water demand and agricultural production, among other things,” said Dr. Taylor.

Jamaica’s emissions and development targets are linked in the country’s Vision 2030 Development plan, an ambitious guide to developing this highly indebted country. Launched in 2014, the document aims to “make Jamaica the pre-eminent place to live, work, raise families and do business.”

There have been adjustments, updates and a roadmap, but Vision 2030 remains based on four interconnected national goals: empowering Jamaicans to reach their full potential, society is safe, cohesive and equitable, the economy is prosperous and the country has a healthy, natural environment.

The results have been mixed in pursuing the Vision 2030 goals, said Wayne Henry, director general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the agency charged with tracking the implementation of the SDGs.

In his September 2020 overview of SDG implementation, Henry noted that Jamaica has seen positives in the social sector, accountability and governance. For example, attention will continue to be paid to gender equality and the empowerment of women. According to the International Labor Organization, 59.3 percent of managers in the country are women.

But Jamaica is struggling, Henry said, in terms of safety, environmental sustainability and the number of non-communicable diseases. The homicide rate has fluctuated between 47 and 47.7 per 100,000 in recent years, diabetes and hypertension have risen alarmingly in the age group 15 and older, and overall environmental performance has fallen.

While SDG implementation systems are intertwined with national development strategies, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of economies like Jamaica’s. According to Henry, the pandemic shows “how quickly a development path can be challenged”.

COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill and in its wake turned the lives and livelihoods of thousands in the Caribbean upside down, closing entire sectors dependent on tourism and cutting the Jamaican economy by 10 percent, according to the PIOJ. shrank.

With tens of thousands of jobs lost, the government turned to the island’s burgeoning business process outsourcing (BPO) sector as a much-needed source of jobs, offering a level of diversification from the agricultural society of yesteryear. Initially focused on call centers, the sector has expanded into more specialized areas, including accounting, human resources management, digital marketing, animation and software development.

But the sector’s employers are prone to COVID-19 outbreaks, and reliance on the existing fossil fuel-based energy sector is a negative factor for a country eager to reduce emissions.

Still, Jamaica may have captured the essence of the SDGs by balancing the temporary growth of the BPO sector with its commitment to lower energy costs and diversify its fuel mix. For example, it plans to increase the share of electricity generated from renewable energy sources from 9 percent in 2016 to 30 percent in 2030. And in 2019, the government commissioned a 36-megawatt wind farm, which is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by It will reduce 66,000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year, which is equivalent to taking about 13,000 cars off the road.

© Inter Press Service (2021) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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