Fossil Fuel: The Jamaican Experience

by Adrian Watson
(Kingston, Jamaica)

Jamaica has no known petroleum and coal reserves in which to exploit and has to import these products from overseas. The Petrojam refinery has capacity of 35000 barrels per stream day. Its therefore able to refine some imported products whilst the rest is imported. The Jamaica energy sector is extremely vulnerable to external shocks and can be disrupted at any time.

Fossil fuel comprises coal, oil, petroleum, and natural gas products. Jamaica uses the fossil fuels in the form of oil and petroleum. Fossil fuel energy consumption in Jamaica was 82.10 in 2011 % of total, according to the World Bank.

Jamaica’s energy production (kt of oil equivalent) was last measured to be at 548.76 in 2011, according to the World Bank.

The Big SIX

At the end of 2014 six countries accounted for almost 60% of the world’s carbon emissions. These countries would be:
  1. China, with about 30 per cent of global emissions. The Chinese is economy is hugely reliant on fossil fuels for electricity and steel production. In 2013 their CO2 emissions amounted to 11 billion tons.
  2. United States' 2013 CO2 emissions: 5.8 billion tons.
  3. India’s 2013 CO2 emissions: 2.6 billion tons
  4. Russia in 2006, announced a move to export more oil and natural gas. Their 2013 CO2 emissions amounted to 2 billion tons.
  5. Japan, after being shaken up by the nuclear power plants after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster forced a drastic change in plans to curb carbon pollution, but still has a lot of emissions. Their 2013 CO2 emissions: 1.4 billion tons.
  6. Germany whilst outperforming the developed world in emission cut backs has in recent years seen back-to-back emissions increases due to higher demand for electricity and a switch to coal after Fukushima, which prompted a nuclear power phase-out. Their 2013 CO2 emissions: 836 million tons.

Jamaica vs Goliath (Big Polluters)

The developed world needs to understand that Jamaica like the rest of the world demands energy - not fossil fuels. Jamaica’s emissions are very insignificant in comparison to the developed world; even so Jamaica has plans to reduce its emissions in show of good faith.

Developing countries are not the main cause of climate change, but they must do their part to mitigate and adapt to its effects.

The discussions from a developing world stand point seems to be heading in a direction of the developed world making promises to cut back, but not being bold enough or not meeting targets as well as asking to the developing world to adapt to a scenario where we lose significant portions of our livelihood and environmental buffers.

Emissions will affect the developing world first and will not just increase atmospheric temperatures. Jamaica has to face the acidification of the oceans especially around the equator and a looming threat to the coral reefs.

St. Lucia already experienced coral bleaching on the eastern coast due to increases in sea surface temperatures and decrease in ph. This too happened off the coast of Barbados with some evidence of its Jamaican waters.

Jamaican Progress

Jamaica has made strides in the last decade to boost the renewable energy department where the Non-Governmental Organizations (third sector) has sought to increase the country’s stock of renewable energies in the form of photovoltaic systems to provide for the country’s energy needs.

The business sector has also followed suite through entrepreneurs taking up some of the risks to launch such industries on the island to alleviate the consumption of fossil fuels. The cost of renewable energy technologies is maybe dropping, but it is still expensive for entrepreneurs who are interested in starting up companies to do so.


It would be remiss of me not to mention that as the world prepares for COP21 that the event itself is being sponsored corporate oil producers.

This will threaten those who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change on life and the ecosystem. By sponsoring COP21, these companies will be allowed to launch a smear campaign of how their industries have contributed to combating climate change through systematic green washing.

They will weaken any agreements to take swift climate action through emotional and unethical black mailing through sponsorship of these types of events. If the world allows this type of contribution to take place it would put the most vulnerable at losing more on top what has already been lost.

Does Loss and Damage ring a bell? This would be like spanking a child for being victimized. Let’s give those polluters the boot.

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