M.P. Kelvin Simon Urges the Government to ‘Innovate and Not Just Update’ in Addressing Climate Change

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Amid the heat wave plaguing the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, M.P. Kelvin Simon continues to raise concerns about the impact of extreme temperatures on students’ wellbeing and performance in the classroom.  Simon is urging the government to “innovate and not just update” by introducing solar energy on a large scale to address the impacts of climate change.

M.P. Simon notes that the recent Cabinet announcement that schools will undergo infrastructural upgrades to facilitate new air conditioners, does not include the use of solar energy.

With the planet’s future at stake, Simon questions why serious efforts have not been made to introduce sustainable and renewable energy, to manage costs and resources more effectively.

He also questions the status of solar panels that were installed at the Antigua Grammar School, Antigua Girls High School and Ottos Comprehensive School several years ago.

According to Simon, a long-term strategy is required to address climate control in classrooms and it must include the use of solar energy.  He warns that the use of window units could worsen the current challenges because of emissions and the inefficient use of energy. 

As part of the plan, M.P. Simon suggests that a comprehensive assessment is conducted to determine the cost of fully air-conditioning school buildings using solar panels.

“We need to assess the level of energy consumption in our schools and determine the return on investment (ROI) of including solar energy as part of a comprehensive long-term energy plan. The cost savings generated can free up resources that can be reallocated to other areas of the school operations and enhance the overall educational experience for students,” Simon said.

The Parliamentary representative for St. Mary’s South referenced the installation of AC units at Urlings School more than eight months ago.

“These AC units remain inoperable because the building lacks the electrical capacity. Instead of just rewiring the building, consideration should be given to the installation of solar systems. These can be tied and synchronized with the APUA grid, allowing for an automatic supply changeover to APUA, which will act as a backup supply,” Simon stated.

In addition to financial savings, Simon points to the importance of reducing pollution and promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness in the local community. Coming out of the SIDS4 Conference, Simon believes that it is time for the government to move beyond lip service and get serious about addressing the impacts of climate change, especially as it relates to the future development of the youth.

“Climate change is real and we must confront the academic and health risks posed by overheated classrooms head-on. Researchers have linked heat exposure to reduced learning and a range of health effects such as dizziness, headaches and worsening asthma symptoms. After sitting in a hot classroom all day, students may even struggle to play sports or participate in after-school activities. Teachers aren’t immune from the heat either,” Simon said.

With a rapidly warming climate, M.P. Simon believes the SIDS4 Conference should be embraced as a watershed moment to position our youth as drivers of environmentally responsible and innovative solutions.

“Climate change ranks among the highest concerns for today’s youth. They are not just vocal about the impending climate crisis—they are taking bold and innovative actions to address it. So we must make long-term plans to improve the environment for them to learn and provide opportunities for them to develop creative solutions,” M.P. Simon added.

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