While 19 countries had launched the Carbon Neutrality Coalition during the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 27, two of them are from the Pacific – the Marshall Islands and Fiji, Palau chose to stay out of the coalition and focus on its goal to generate 45% renewable energy by 2025.

Palau’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ngedikes Olai Uludong told the media during the press conference on Wednesday at the President’s Satellite Office that going carbon neutral means phasing out the vehicles on the street and doing such would hurt the economy of Pacific Island countries like Palau that are dependent to fossil fuel.

According to Ambassador Uludong, there has to be an enabling framework to be able to transition to net zero emissions to avoid compromising the country’s economy.

“I think that by 2050, it’s going to be hard for some country to just turn off using diesel,” Uludong said, adding that it is expensive to transition to net zero emissions that fast without affecting the economy that which eventually affects the people.

Members of the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, which include Canada, Denmark, Spain and the United Kingdom, vowed to go carbon neutral by 2050.

Uludong expounded that Fiji and the Marshall Islands probably stand on the view that solar technology would be so abundant by that time that it will become cheap.

“They probably cannot have it now but they are thinking that by then, they’ll be cheap that they can do it on that scale,” Uludong said.

Palau is taking the reasonable and realistic option by choosing to focus on its energy sector and target to generate 45% renewable energy by 2025, Uludong explained.

“It was a logical sense at the end of the day that [President Tommy Remengesau, Jr.] made the decision that we go 45% renewable for 2025 for the energy sector,” Uludong said.

According to Uludong, the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory has also helped Palau in identifying its intended Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which includes the suggestion that Palau can only assess its energy sector and must refrain from touching the transportation sector as there is not enough information on the latter.

NDC is anchored on the Paris Agreement which ask each signatory country to outline and communicate its climate actions for post 2020.

Palau’s initiatives to transition to the generation 45% renewable energy is also complemented by the energy efficiency program, Uludong explained. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)