Climate change is currently the greatest threat to the Pacific Islands. It determines the future and affects the present. Natural disasters, rising sea level, decrease in agricultural productivity…. Those are only a few examples of many problems the Pacific nations have to face. We cannot prevent climate change. But nor can we ignore it. And that is why some steps need to be taken. It seems that Pacific Islands want to be the first to do that.
Limiting the climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the priorities and the main goal for the upcoming years for various countries in the Pacific region.
Tokelau is leading the way in solar solutions and is the first territory to have all its electricity needs met by renewable energy. Over 4 000 solar panels almost completely eliminated diesel fuel use – primary energy source – on the islands. As a result Tokelau achieved much needed energy independence – something other islands can only dream of.
Solar energy is also used in Kiribati, mainly in outer islands’ rural households, Tuvalu and Tonga, where new facility was opened in 2012. What is more, Pacific’s only Kingdom has just installed the first solar-powered street lights. If the panels turn out to be financially viable, there is a chance they will provide light throughout Tongatapu in the future, as Tonga plans to reduce the amount of fossil fuels by 50%
Solar power is the common choice in the Pacific region for obvious reasons. But other renewable energy sources are also used. A geothermal plant will be set up on the island of Efate in Vanuatu. A transmission line is proposed to be constructed from the site to the existing grid so that the capital of Port Vila could take advantage of the ‘Earth’s heat’. Similar project is underway in Fiji.
New Caledonia, on the other hand, prefers to use the power of the wind. Two wind farms, in Prony and Kafeate, with over 100 hurricane-proof turbines (designed specifically for this type of climate) not only produce electricity for more than 50 000 people, but also contribute to maintaining a healthy ecosystem. This award-winning project is a fantastic, environmentally friendly development and as such should serve as an example for other countries.
Pacific Island nations are committed to go carbon neutral and want all or most of their energy to come from renewable sources. Some adopted targets appear to be overly ambitious and maybe a little unrealistic. However if you look at Tokelau, nothing seems impossible. Small island states want to play a role in deciding their fate. It’s just too bad other countries, the so-called ‘developed’ ones, don’t share their views.