St. John’s Antigua- An energy-efficient prototype building is earmarked for construction at the Botanical Gardens, which the Environment Division hopes would revolutionise the private sector’s approach to reducing energy costs.
Dianne Black-Layne, one of this country’s chief climate change negotiators and chief environment officer, said they are seeking to gather enough data to make an economic case for similar projects throughout the region, and to show the private sector how its members can save money.
This measure, Black-Layne admitted, has wider implications for the building code, which may need to be revised at a later date to incorporate energy saving measures.
“If we’re going to implement something in the building code, we need to make sure the people can pay for it if it’s a legal requirement. This is why we were negotiating really vigorously to be able to get access to low-cost funding for the private sector. Because the ordinary homeowner, ordinary business owners can get access to funding so they can become more efficient and to make them more competitive,” she explained.
As a result, the Environment Division is fine-tuning a proposal for a US $5 million revolving fund to assist the private sector, hoping that loans could be available from next year.
Funds could be sourced from international donors as well as the European Investment Bank that has pledged US $65 million for a dedicated long-term low-cost climate action lending programme through the Caribbean Development Bank. Their goal is to reduce the negative impact of climate change and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
“If the Caribbean Development Bank got this money from the EU, we will then work with the Ministry of Finance to go to the Caribbean Development Bank and say ‘listen, out of that $65 million dollars, we need x amount to put into a revolving fund here in Antigua,’” she said.
“There are other donors that are willing to contribute to a revolving fund so we’re hoping in the next three to four years it will grow every single year by leaps and bounds. But this will all depend on the changes in national legislation and policies the government would have to look at in terms of the use of renewable energy, energy efficient appliances. Tax exemptions would have to be worked out as well.”