By Leon Kaye
Aruba’s government, led by Prime Minister Mike Eman, announced this afternoon at the Rio+20 Conference that the country is partnering with the Carbon War Room (CWR) to transition to an energy portfolio of 100 percent renewables. CWR, one of Richard Branson’s many sustainability initiatives, will also work with the New America Foundation to design and implement a strategy that could transform Aruba into the first country entirely free of fossil fuels.
For Aruba and its 107,000 citizens, such a bold proposal is an opportunity to improve their standard of living, already relatively high for the Caribbean and Latin America. But despite its overall success, Aruba has endured periods of high deficit spending and inflation, and the volatile energy prices can undercut Aruba’s economy at any moment. Once an oil producer, Aruba now produces 20 percent of its energy via solar and wind power, but must import the rest of its energy. The partnership with CWR, if possible, could become a model of how countries can succeed on their quest for energy independence.