Small islands are among the world’s most ambitious countries in terms of renewable energy adoption with a number of them pursuing 100% renewable power generation targets, showing countries across the world what can be achieved through political will and collaborative effort.
“They show great leadership and resolve in pressing for urgent global action.” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera at the high-level meeting on SIDS, hosted by IRENA, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the State of Palau and the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS). UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also congratulated small islands for their renewable energy ambition in his closing of the Climate Action Summit.
Seychelles is one country that has committed to the 100% renewables goal. “We are also looking at waste-to-energy systems which will help us manage our waste issues whilst taking advantage of the opportunity to harness electricity,” declared Wallace Cosgrow, Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate for the Seychelles.
Beyond the environmental benefits, there are also significant social and economic benefits for SIDS in pursuing high shares of renewable energy. A fact many of them have recognised and is motivating their decarbonisation agenda. “Renewables greatly contribute to sustainable socioeconomic well-being in SIDS,” highlighted Under Secretary General of the UNOHRLLS, Fekitamoeloa ʻUtoikamanu. “Renewables have the potential to reach even the most remote islands – in doing so delivering positive returns to economies, health and social participation.”
In the Maldives the benefits of transforming their energy system from one that is 94% diesel power today to one that is dominated by renewable, are clear. Hussain Hassan, the country’s Minister of Environment highlighted that importing diesel for subsided power generation consumers up to 15% of GDP. “The benefits for us are climate and economic,” he said.
Among the most advanced SIDS is the Cook Islands, who are “moving very quickly towards 100% renewable energy” according to Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown. Today, around 92% of their energy needs are met by renewable sources, displacing expensive diesel to bring energy security and improve access.