Trinidad and Tobago enters the race to a carbon zero future with US $5.2 million ozone project

22 November, 2020, Port-of-Spain: The Ministry of Planning and Development is announcing the Government’s undertaking of a US $5.152 million grant funded project in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector meant to tackle climate change, disaster mitigation and more specifically ozone depletion in Trinidad and Tobago.  Although this will be a locally implemented project, it will enable Government’s commitments to international agreements such as the Montreal Protocol and the Paris Agreement, both of which T&T has assented.  The National Ozone Unit of the Ministry of Planning will be the National Focal Point of the project working closely with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In March of 2020, the Government received US $5.152 million for Trinidad and Tobago’s largest ever grant funded project under the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) entitled “Energy Efficiency through the Development of Low-carbon Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (RAC) Technologies in Trinidad and Tobago”, however, the initiation of activities under this grant was halted due to restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On November 18, 2020 the four year project was jump started with a virtual initiation workshop facilitated by the Ministry of Planning in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) involving stakeholders from government, academia, civil society organisations, partners in the air conditioning and refrigeration sector and the private sector.  During the workshop, Dr Marissa Gowrie, Deputy Environmental Manager and National Ozone Officer captured the current mood when she said, “The show must go on, not just in spite of the pandemic but because of it.” 

The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) in Point Lisas, Piarco International Airport through the Airports Authority and the local refrigeration and air conditioning sector will be key drivers of the project with one of the activities being explored is the possibility of employing district cooling technology in Trinidad and Tobago.  This is a modern system of cooling a network of buildings within a specific area, using chilled water or other medium from a central supply that absorbs heat and cools multiple buildings in a closed loop cycle.  This can reduce cooling costs, eliminate ozone depleting substances and limit harmful by-products being released into our environment from traditional refrigeration and cooling systems.  

The outcomes of this project will no doubt assist Trinidad and Tobago in meeting its national obligations under the Montreal Protocol by providing support to improvement of technology in the RAC sector, and reducing the emission of these greenhouse gases thereby reducing the entire carbon footprint of the country.

The UNDP is a vital project partner, given their history of implementing Montreal Protocol activities in this county in addition to their technical experience in the RAC sector.  The Project will support local programmes to phase-out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are refrigerants and powerful ozone depleting substances. In accordance with the Montreal Protocol, the complete phase-out is to be completed by 2040 with various reduction targets, which Trinidad and Tobago has met and exceeded to date.  Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis states that this project will allow us to do more in our efforts to reduce the effects of global warming and climate change, thus increasing the capacity of this Government’s  efforts to meet our 15% reduction target in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

According to Planning and Development’s Permanent Secretary Joanne Deoraj, “This project will address improvement of T&T’s RAC sector to utilize environmentally friendly and efficient air conditioning and refrigeration technologies.”  Ms. Randi Davis, the UNDP’s Resident Representative for Trinidad and Tobago stated that projects like this have the potential to be market leaders, to build a momentum towards greater climate ambition, and build national pride and capacity for the green global economy of the future.

This project will help fulfil Trinidad and Tobago's national priorities, outlined in the National Development Strategy – Vision 2030 – under Theme V “Placing the Environment at the Centre of Social and Economic Development” while also attaining SDG13, Climate Action.  It will also include the following objectives:

(a) Promote a resilient whole-of-government approach to disaster risk management while strengthening our capacity to reduce risk and build community resilience to disasters especially within vulnerable groups;

(b) Enhance energy efficiency and the efficient use of resources for increasing energy security through the use of alternative cooling technologies, renewable energy use and encouraging private sector investment in low carbon technologies; and

(c) Development of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies to protect those citizens who are most affected.


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