By Orville Williams
Collective efforts to transition Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to renewable energy received a major boost this week, with an agreement between the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Antigua and Barbuda’s Environment Minister, Molwyn Joseph, signed the agreement on behalf of AOSIS – currently chaired by the twin island nation – and that will facilitate the mobilisation of climate finance and advance the deployment of renewable energy across SIDS, alongside IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera at COP26 on Monday.
Similar agreements are being reached between many countries, private entities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) during the event in Glasgow, and according to La Camera, “the enthusiasm witnessed at this COP must now be translated from commitments to action in the months and years ahead of us”.
The agreement will see AOSIS and IRENA redoubling efforts to maintain the energy transition leadership shown by island nations since the signing of the Paris Agreement by “working to mobilise climate finance and bolstering the implementation agenda”.
Both entities will also support the enhancement and implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – non-binding national plans highlighting climate change-related actions – and the pursuit of sustainable development in SIDS.
An IRENA report from 2018 on the deployment of renewal energy in SIDS stated that approximately US$16 billion will be required by 2030 to reach the established targets set out in the respective NDCs.
Along with those objectives, the agreement will promote “strengthened coordination of the SIDS agenda and action through information and knowledge exchange, tailored capacity building activities [and] assessment opportunities for renewable energy use and applications”.
Reacting to the signing of the agreement, Joseph called IRENA “a steadfast supporter” of the work being done in SIDS toward renewable energy transition for nearly a decade and stated his pleasure in finally making that support official.
In IRENA’s 2018 report, the agency disclosed that it had completed a comprehensive review of renewable energy development in Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas and Grenada, to improve understanding of the national energy sector.
The agency said it also discussed the specific issues to be addressed, prepared specific policy recommendations and presented opportunities for scaling up renewable energy development.