Saving Fiji – from Abu Dhabi

It’s not only marketing men with electrodes in their brains who are worried about Fiji and its environmental fragility. Fiji is presiding the current COP23 talks in Bonn, so it’s much in the news, and the Guardian joined the fray with a frightening account of how many billions it must spend to adapt to climate change.

Fiji must spend an amount equivalent to its entire yearly gross domestic product over the next 10 years, according to the first comprehensive assessment of the small island nation’s vulnerability to climate change, compiled by its government with the assistance of the World Bank. Released half-way through the COP23 in Bonn, which Fiji is presiding over, the report highlights five major interventions and 125 further actions that it says are necessary to achieve Fiji’s development objectives, while facing the potentially devastating impacts of climate change.

The Guardian doesn’t provide a link, and I couldn’t find it at the World Bank site, possibly because it’s being launched later this evening by the Fijian Ministry of Economy, but I did find a link at the World Bank site to this article which treats the subject at a grassroots level:

Suva, Fiji, May 24, 2016 – The Lal family live in Nakasi, a town about 30 minutes’ drive from of Suva, capital of Fiji… a kilometre away from the closest electricity grid. With no power lines available, and other forms of energy such as diesel-powered generators extremely expensive to operate, access to electricity for families like the Lals has, until recently, remained a constant challenge.

Fiji is keen to change this – their Sustainable Energy for All goals include sourcing more than 80% of the country’s electricity from renewable energies by 2020, and 100% by 2030... To encourage financial institutions to lend money for renewable energy equipment like solar panels and hydro units, a risk sharing fund has been established through the World Bank’s Sustainable Energy Finance Project…

Through the project, more than 60 loans have already been approved for renewable energy equipment. These loans have been taken out by small enterprises, community organizations and individuals. The project has also provided training to five small enterprises and community organizations on equipment repair and maintenance, as well as general business skills, such as analyzing market trends.

CBS Power Solutions, a local company working in renewable energy, first heard about the risk sharing fund in 2009 and subsequently took out a loan to buy the equipment needed. They now install solar panels across the Pacific Islands.

For Sanjeev Lal, these solar panels are now an essential part of his family’s life. “Electricity is a need in today’s society,” said Sanjeev. “We needed it for the kids to study and watch TV, for the freezer for our food, for fans and computers. That’s why I was happy to make the investment. It’s a new thing for us; that glass panels can give us electricity, but I’m really happy with them and want to increase my set-up. Even if the electricity grid does come here, I would still be using solar.”

From CBS Power Solutions (Fiji) Ltd’s website we learn that it is a Renewable Energy Services Provider and General Contractors with a team (counting the visible hard hats in the photo) of at least 42 people, including “Electrical Engineers, Licensed Electricians, Computer Technology Experts and a very experienced office management team.”

They provide wind power, solar power, hybrid power, diesel generators, coconut oil fuel, and battery backup, andb have undertaken projects in about eleven Pacific countries. (I may haved miscounted, since many of them are subject to sudden disappearance.) Sixteen projects in Fiji are listed, consisting of:

7 for solar equipment/ power systems

2 for solar system maintenance

2 for battery chargers

2 for batteries

2 for diesel generators, and

1 for a biofuel generator

Their suppliers of solar products are Trinar Solar of Changzhou and Yingli Green Energy Holding of Baoding.

Batteries feature largely in their product range, which is not surprising, since CBS (Fiji) Ltd is a subsidiary of Complete Battery Solutions Pty Ltd of Glenwood, New South Wales, a proprietary (i.e. private) company. Complete Battery Solutions is the business name of Bobkat Holdings Pty Ltd. Of Brisbane. And there the trail ends, unless someone knows how to find out more about Australian proprietary limited companies.

At the tail end of the Fiji company’s website is this:

They already trust us – A list of our clients

The European Union

the United Nations Development Programme

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme

World Bank

USAid

Asian Development Bank

Secretariat of the Pacific Community

Masdar a Mubadala Company

Apparently the word “client” means something different in Fiji, unless Complete Battery Systems are really supplying solar panels and coconut oil fuel to the European Union and the World Bank. All the clients listed are aid agencies, except the last one. Masdar is a city in the United Arab Emirates, and Mubadala is busy “innovating and investing around the world to transform the world’s economy, accelerating Abu Dhabi’s economic growth through diverse investments worldwide.” How being a client of a Fijian solar panel firm furthers that aim is not clear.

According to the Guardian, no less, Masdar could become world’s first green ghost town, while according to an article last month in the French language Science Post it already has.

The city of Masdar was designed to project an ecological and futuristic vision to the whole world. In 2008, the emirate of Abu Dhabi launched the project to build the first zero-waste, zero-carbon emissions city. With a budget of ten billion euros, the city was to house nearly 50,000 inhabitants and more than 1,500 companies.Today, Masdar seems a mirage based on hopes fostered by illusions…

Today, the city has only one hundred inhabitants and is surrounded by construction sites. However, there’s IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, and the Massachussetts Institute of Science and Technology. There’s hardly anything renewable and the city is nothing but an image of intense overconsumption: the buildings are all air-conditioned and large cars line the streets …

Not many large cars, one imagines, for a population of 100, but possibly more than line the streets of Fiji’s villages.

It’s a long way from Abu Dhabi to Fiji, especially if you go via the European Union and an Australian battery company. I suspect Fiji’s dream of 80% renewable electricity in three years’ time is going to come at a cost to someone.

Possibly us.

9 thoughts on “Saving Fiji – from Abu Dhabi

  1. Geothermal looks good for Fiji. Lots of hot springs. They’re currently piloting communal geothermal refrigeration on Vanua Levu (using tech developed – I think: can’t refind – for use on Svalbard in the Arctic):

    http://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/exciting-project-to-utilise-geothermal-hot-spring-in-fiji-for-refrigeration/

    A bit OT: The official COP23 website says that DHL shipped a drua – a Fijian canoe – from London to Bonn carbon-neutrally. What actually happened was that DHL used a very slightly curved trailer that, at best, reduces road transport fuel consumption by 10%. DHL might have topped up this meagre benefit by sending money to various questionable carbon-offsetting schemes it supports (cookstoves, tree-planting) but if so it hasn’t boasted about it – possibly because they are questionable, possibly because ‘carbon-neutral’ now means ‘up to 10% down’.

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  2. If Masdar is an expensive and empty shrine to uselessness, why isn’t COP23 being held there?

    Presumably the cars are all electric, with so much cheap petrol available

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  3. Pingback: Ongoing ignorance of experts 1 | Climate Scepticism

  4. Why is Fiji spending so much money on climate mitigation when its GHG emission amounted to just 0.004% (2.2/53937 MtCO2e) in 2012? Surely it would be much better to spend it on climate adaptation.
    Why are they planning for sea levels to rise by up to a meter by the end of the century? (see Guardian article) From AR5 WG1 SPM table 2 this will only happen in the non-policy RCP8.5 scenario. Surely any country presiding over a meeting to implement mitigation policies should not be planning as if the outcome will be completely useless. Even then, surely they should be planning 30-50 years ahead, when sea level rise will only a third of a meter or less. Then they can have a bit more time to save up for a few more bricks. Or wait to see if the prophecies of doom materialize.
    There should be at least a bit of due diligence. I would be willing to sacrifice my Christmas and New Year for a modest fee and expenses to go to Fiji and audit the figures. Would need to bring the family to assist. I could shave a substantial amount off the $4.5bn cost estimate over the next decade.

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  5. When they all pitched up in Marrakech, they had some exotic tourist activities lined up for them. Do we know the entertainment programme for Bonn? The data is surprisingly light on details of sexual and gender orientation as well. A male/female split does not do justice to the complexity of this important issue

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  6. Distressing to see that (apparently) no country claims to have sent any transgendered delegates.

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  7. MIAB,

    “Eritrea, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan also have all-male delegations, but these three countries have only sent one person to the talks.”

    Indeed, very presumptious of the authors. One or more of these ‘males’ may identify as non-binary persons and may in fact prefer the gender neutral pronoun ‘xe’.

    With regard to the huge numbers of delegates attending from African nations, I wonder, does that signify that their governments are the most concerned about the impacts of climate change, or is it more to do with the fact that, rather than them being net contributors to climate change projects, they do in fact, as far as nations are concerned, have the most to gain from the huge climate pot of money sourced via struggling taxpayers in developed nations? Of course, the people who gain the most are the Green NGOs and renewables executives and the numerous ‘charities’ and other organisations involved in scattering the crumbs from the table of the climate elite to the poor of the Third World (i.e. their grasping governments, who likewise rescatter some of the crumbs they receive to their hard up citizens, keeping most for ‘administrative’ costs of course).

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  8. Now we know the reason for the female attendees, according to the Guardian

    Women bear the heaviest brunt of global warming, and are less empowered to contribute to solutions. A new action plan agreed at the Bonn climate talks aims to reverse this inequality, writes Hilda Heine, Marshall Islands president

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