Kermit the Frog was on to something when he sang it’s not easy being green.
Trinidad and Tobago’s transition to a more environmentally-conscious society, in keeping with the terms of the Paris agreement on climate change, is estimated to cost US$2 billion if the country is to reach its target of cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 15 per cent — or 103 million tonnes — from what it is today, cumulatively, by 2030.
Even though the country accounts for less than one per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, as a small island developing state, TT is at risk from the adverse effects of climate change, including rising ocean temperatures, changes in precipitation, coastal erosion— already evident in places like Cedros and Mayaro – and as hurricanes Irma and Maria proved last year, the increased likelihood of being affected by more intense tropical storms.
The United States is the only country in the world that has not signed on to the Paris agreement, a global commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions that came into force in November 2016. Even though TT was a signatory, it didn’t actually ratify the agreement (make it effective as policy) until February 2018.
“We didn’t just rush in. We looked very carefully at what was required of us, the cost and effect on the country, and when we were satisfied the arrangement was what we could live with, we did,” Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had said a few days after the signing, acknowledging that some of the concessions to TT will be on hydrocarbon reductions — the primary economic earner for the country.