Cayman students meet officials to talk climate change

Kristen Augustine, the government's energy policy coordinator, left, meets Protect Our Future students, clockwise from top, Olivia Zimmer, Steff Mcdermot and Connor Childs to discuss climate change and renewable energy for Cayman. - Photo: Submitted

Three members of environmental awareness group Protect Our Future last week brought their concerns about climate change to Cayman energy and regulatory officials.

Olivia Zimmer, Steff Mcdermot and Connor Childs met with Kristen Augustine, energy policy coordinator for the Cayman Islands government, and Gregg Anderson, executive director of OfReg, to discuss Cayman’s next steps regarding climate change and renewable energy.

The students had attended the COP 25 Climate conference in Madrid, Spain, last month and discussed with several global participants about how different countries are taking a stand on climate change.

“We approach our meetings with an open mind and the intention to understand their position and how we may support each other,” Mcdermot said of last week’s dialogue.

The organisation is aiming to support the government’s new science curriculum that will focus on renewable energy and the realities of climate change. The group members said they would like to see water-refill stations and solar panels installed at all public schools.

The government’s National Energy Policy, approved by Cabinet in 2017, states that the Cayman Islands aims to have 70% renewable energy by 2037.

The group encouraged the government to start using its one megawatt solar allocation for schools and hospitals.

“We are aware of the policy goals and that the government has free access to one megawatt of solar energy for government buildings. If the energy is currently not being used, allocating the one megawatt of solar energy towards the public schools, along with an educational programme, will directly support [National Energy Policy] goal No. 1,” Mcdermot said.

Goal 1 of the National Energy Policy, states, “Knowledge and Education: The people of the Cayman Islands will be well educated and knowledgeable on the impact of energy demand on the environment of the islands and continuously embrace opportunities to increase the levels of sustainable energy solutions in the supply mix, and improve efficiency in energy use.”

The Protect Our Future students are also asking the government to create advertisements and commercials to educate the public about climate change and adaptable solutions.

“I particularly expressed the importance of sourcing young Caymanian entrepreneurs and developing educational campaigns that fits with our diverse melting pot community,” Mcdermot said of the recent meeting.

The students said they remained hopeful that the Cayman Islands government and OfReg would help spotlight climate change as a top priority.

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