Addressing a full room of environmental and media personnel, Minister of the Environment Molwyn Joseph answered his critics today as he proclaimed that he is sending “a clear message that I do not intend to back out of the ‘experiment.’”
For weeks since the public learned of the arrival of the $275,000 electric Tesla Model X SUV to be used by the Environment Minister as a part of a study to examine the technical and economic feasibility of electric vehicles, there has been scrutiny from some quarters.
The cotroversy surrounded not only the vehicle’s high price tag, but also the timing of purchase given the recent devastation to sister Isle Barbuda.
Joseph states that this initiative embarked upon by the department is one that seeks to “transition from the use of fossil fuels to that of renewable energy.”
The minister apologised to Ambassador Diann Black-Layne and the general public for seemingly backing out of the project upon first request. Joseph said the distraction of the United Progressive Party’s (UPP) press release on the matter and his preoccupation with his chairmanship of the Barbuda Restoration Task force, as reasons for initially not wanting to participate in the study.
Because the $270,000 price tag had become a sore point with the public, Ambassador Black-Layne sought to clarify that, “the money did not come from the treasury of Antigua and Barbuda.”
“As a part of the Paris (Climate) Agreement, International community provides financing so that you can buy technology or you can design policies and measures to implement these international agreements.”
“In the case of climate change conventions or the biodiversity conventions, they provide financing through three main areas: the Adaptation Fund, the Global Environmental Facility, and the Green Climate Fund.”
The ambassador further explains that a budget line for transportation can be negotiated when seeking funding from one of these three areas. Black-Layne said that all of the projects negotiated thus far have this transportation allocation.
“Because we are the department of the environment and we’re using Green Climate Fund money and Adaptation Fund money, we decided that we would use that transportation budget to purchase renewable energy transportation which is consistent with the entire agreement.”
“It would look weird that we are looking to cut our emissions and we’re buying diesel vehicles or gasoline vehicles.”