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A Brighter Future?

Caribbean Climate features another exclusive contribution from Nalini Jagnarine, Environmental Analyst and Business Development Coordinator at Environmental Solutions Limited, a Caribbean-based Consultancy.

Green House Gases (GHG) such as the burning of fossil fuels and coal still remains to date, one of the largest contributors to ever rising impacts of Climate Change. Countries and many industrial sectors are being implored to reduce their carbon emissions and take the necessary steps to implement and use cleaner energy sources (renewables such as solar, wind and water) and technology. The oil industry is of particular importance as these companies extract finite resources from our environments as well as consume and produce a lot of energy and emissions in their operations. They have received harsh and strong criticism from various stakeholders regarding the morals and ethics of their operations and more now than ever, are put in the spotlight to be accountable for their actions, and play in their part in the mitigation of climate change and protection of our environment.

So what exactly are the oil companies and these industries in particular planning to do? Where do they see their role in this game of survival and competitiveness?

I read an interesting article yesterday which deepened my interest in the industry and gave me a ray of hope to what may seem like a brighter future for us all. After years of “obstructionism” and debate in creating a universal framework to deal with the impacts of climate change, the major players in the oil industry (Shell, BO, Total, Statoil, Eni and the GB Group) have indicated in a letter on Friday (May 29th) that they are ready for a price on Carbon. This letter was released publicly on Monday to the UN Climate Chief, Christiana Figueres and France’s Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister, Laurent Fabius who will also lead the Paris climate talks later this year.

The letter speaks specifically to national and regional governments setting a price on carbon and for regional carbon markets to be linked. Setting a price on Carbon is not entirely a new concept. Many other industries and companies have been active in the carbon market (carbon trading/buying and selling of carbon) for some time now; the main drivers being pressures posed on them by stakeholders and a few governments; while others engage in this trade for Sustainable Reporting and CSR points.

What is even further interesting is that they want the governments support.

“We need governments across the world to provide us with clear, stable, long-term, ambitious policy frameworks,”

They also “call on governments” to “introduce carbon pricing systems where they do not yet exist at the national or regional levels,” “create an international framework that could eventually connect national systems and “to support progress towards these outcome.”

This letter is actually very commendable and is beyond a doubt the start of what could be a cleaner more regulated industry. It is unfortunate that this letter was not published earlier however the sooner this become implemented the better for everyone. The timing could be linked to the fact that the international Climate Agreement with over 190 countries is currently happening in Bonn, Germany.

So what are my two main concerns?

  • That this is letter was not done in efforts to “hush” the concerns and disappointment from key stakeholders such as Environmentalists, conservationist, NGO’s, etc.
  • That the government did not feel like this initiative was necessary and important enough to act and implement carbon pricing or a more rigid policy, to manage and govern the way in which heavy users of oil and gas operates globally. Why was this not done before? Is it not just as important as any other policy or law that has been passed to curb crime and sustain order?

I implore governments to make use of this great opportunity and create global frameworks that will make it mandatory that such industries to be accountable for their actions and that every person and company plays their part in reducing the impacts that our younger generation more so than us will face. Let us hope and pray that Shell, BP and the other major players abide by this letter and their word, to make our world a better place to live. They have opened the gates to us. Let us (decision/policy making entities) pave the rest of the way.

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