As should have been expected with a comment like that, Jamaica’s Minister of Energy, Phillip Paulwell and the nation’s environmentalists have drawn guns in the streets over the use of coal to supply energy.
While no one has fired anything fatal, one environmentalist has called Minister Paulwell “a backward man” publicly. As the tree-huggers and animal kissers fight for the preservation of photosynthesis, what are your thoughts on the matter? How will coal affect your money?
Here are several things to note about the debate:
1. Minister Paulwell only advocated for bauxite companies to use coal.
“I think it [coal] has to be an option and we have to allow the bauxite companies, if they so desire, to go coal,” Paulwell said.
Surely use on such a limited scale cannot be that detrimental right?
2. Coal may mean greater job opportunities for you, your family, your friends, your community and your customers.
As Minister Paulwell noted, “The great USA, the great economies of Europe, Germany and so on were built on coal.” If Jamaica had this option the low cost of energy would open many doors for investment, development and employment.
3. Coal is a good, viable and seemingly sensible option that a poor country like Jamaica would be justified in using.
One energy expert, engineer Stanley Smellie, who is employed to the Energy Conservation Project at the University of the West Indies, Mona says he thinks coal is a darn good option.
“The environment is where you live, and you have to protect it at all cost, but there comes a time when you have to weigh your options. Jamaica cannot afford to continue to use oil. [Coal] will significantly change the cost of energy in Jamaica and the effect that will have is that businesses will become more effective; they will have more money to spend on the social aspect of things,” he said.
4. Tourism is not King as everyone would love to have you believe. The King is Bauxite.
Bauxite is actually Jamaica’s No. 1 foreign exchange earner and it “requires cheap oil to remain open.” So why not give the King a crown of coal?
5. Coal could pollute the air and adversely affect Jamaica’s tourism product (which would affect the national budget, which would affect your pocket).
Tourism is the 2nd top foreign exchange earner, and it has a greater life span than bauxite (which has like about 50 years left). Kind of stupid to ruin the long lasting hope for the present pleasure.
Clifford Mahlung, Jamaican climate negotiator stated:
“There is also the concern for air quality, and this is even more of a concern than for emissions. With a country that is dependent on tourism, maintaining a high level of [good] air quality is extremely important. From a cost-effective standpoint, it seems like a viable alternative to use coal, but we would have to ensure our air quality is protected,” Mahlung added.
6. Coal could affect Jamaica’s reputation overall.
Notice how Peter Espeut, former head of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation had no qualms about calling the Minister of Energy “backward.” Apart from being rude, it is kind of a matter of fact (even among non tree huggers) that coal is a regressive step.