Small Islands Voice Global Forum
Alternatives to rising oil prices
‘PETROL PRICES JUMP,’ ‘MORE PEOPLE FEELING REAL PINCH FROM THE GAS PUMP,’ and ‘100 PER CENT BUS FARE INCREASE AND HIGHER UTILITY BILLS PUT STRAIN ON TAXPAYERS’ are among the headlines in island newspapers in recent months, and likewise in other countries around the world.
Koin Etuati from Fiji (Pacific) writing to this forum, calls for less dependency on imported fuels, which are causing pollution and climate change, and to start using renewable energy: Energy resources like wind, solar, waves, hydro and biomass (plant and animal material e.g. dead trees, left-over crops, animal manure) are inexhaustible and abundant. In the Pacific region more than one third of the population - mostly poor people in the rural areas - still has no access to energy. The price of oil is now more than US$ 60 a barrel compared to US$ 35 a barrel in early 2004. The small island nations, which are at the end of the oil chain, will suffer most as the world oil production is reaching its peak. Therefore we must urge the experts to identify opportunities and challenges so that renewable energy resources are used widely and wisely in small island nations. Pacific leaders should move towards using renewable energy sources for electricity and transport at a much faster pace.
Answering this call, Tony Deamer of Vanuatu (Pacific) writes: My little contribution towards sustainability is the introduction of ‘Island Fuel’! By using a locally grown and processed fuel as an alternative to diesel we can reduce our imported fuel bill by 85% - no small savings. With time we can develop ways to reduce this further. Coconut oil is clean and it puts back into the atmosphere only the same carbon dioxide that the coconut tree took out to make the coconut. Ships can be run on it too and so can all the harvesting and processing machinery. This is no longer a dream - most of the Vanuatu Government’s diesel powered cars are now running on coconut oil. All the Island Fuel Company’s fleet of trucks, from the Volvo 760 sedan to the 5 ton Crane truck, is running on it. So it is working and has been for 5 years now. We know it is feasible and sustainable and yes, I can have air conditioning in my car, like the big boys in Australia or USA, and I can have clean air too! (Coconut oil puts out about half the soot particles of diesel). So who says being sustainable has to mean making sacrifices?
And as oil prices continue their upward trend, the increased costs are being transferred directly to the public: Consumers will have to bear the impact of the cost and things are not going to get better. We need to get serious about conservation efforts. Increases in oil prices focus our minds on the need to conserve energy – but this usually only lasts for a few days (adapted from The Gleaner newspaper, Jamaica, 18.08.05).
How are you coping with the increased cost of oil?
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