Barbados co-op sector urged to help island go carbon-free

The member-led model can engage people in the transition, which will help fight climate change and end the country’s dependence on fuel imports, said a minister

The government in Barbados is urging co-ops to back national efforts to become completely fossil–free by 2030.

Wilfred Abrahams, minister of energy and water resources, told a meeting of the Cooperatives Societies Movement that the island nation needs more investment in renewable energy.

Mr Abrahams expressed concern over climate change, Newspaper Barbados Today reported, and called on the country to take steps to control its own destiny.

Currently, the island is powered by three gas and oil plants operated by the Barbados Light & Power Company, but Mr Abrahams said it was time for this to change.

He said Barbados would “look, sound and smell different” because it would no longer be burning fossil fuels, adding: “It is an exciting time because everything that we think of and how we do business now has to change.”

Barbados was going stop burning fossil fuels, he told the meeting. “We, the small island developing states (SIDs), are among the least polluters in the world, but we are the ones that face the greatest consequences from climate change.

“All of the SIDs don’t contribute 1% of the greenhouse gases in the world, but we are the ones on the front line who will be devastated every time one of these things come through. So, for us the push towards renewable energy is not just convenient, it’s a matter of battling for our lives.”

The switch to renewables would also tackle the problem of the purchase of foreign oil and gas, which was putting a strain on the national economy, he said

“We are comfortable now that the dollar is safe, but it won’t be if we keep subjecting ourselves to this fossil fuel addiction, where we are impacted by the vagaries of oil prices on the world market. So, we need to control what it is that we do.”

And he called on the country’s co-ops and credit unions to support the transition, Barbados Today reported.

“You can stick with what I call the outdated mode of doing things, or you can actually start looking to embrace the change that has to happen in Barbados,” he said.

This means helping the people of Barbados engage with the energy transition to feel part of the process – with the co-op model well suited to this by making every member an investor who could share in the profits from renewable projects.

“How do we enfranchise Barbadians and make entrepreneurs of them and bring them along on this energy revolution? We do it through the co-peratives,” added Mr Abrahams.