Type to search

Agriculture Featured

Climate change summit held at the Univ. of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

Experts discuss climate adaptation, green energy and agriculture on the island.

The Puerto Rico Office of Climatology, based at the University of Puerto Rico’s (UPR) Mayagüez Campus (RUM, in Spanish), held the second Climate Change Adaptation Summit. The event brought together experts from various educational, scientific and government agencies from Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland to discuss climate adaptation.

“The purpose of this event is to bring together countless people, organizations and figures who have important things to say about climate adaptation in Puerto Rico,” said Héctor Jiménez-González, director of the Office of Climatology and professor at the Physics Department. “We want to focus on what we can do now, and for that reason, we are exchanging ideas. As part of the agenda, the discussion was on how, in a country like Puerto Rico with limited land for agriculture and self-sufficiency, it is possible to use those spaces to promote solar energy.”

The event featured a panel discussion titled “Green Energy Versus Green Fields: Debating the Use of Agricultural Land in Puerto Rico,” with participants including Juan Rosario, executive director of Amaneser 2025; Iván Baigés-Valentín, professor at RUM’s Engineering and Materials Sciences Department; and agronomist Javier González.

“The RUM, together with the UPR Río Piedras and Utuado campuses, is investigating the possibility of integrating agrivoltaics activity with agricultural production in a sustainable way in certain contexts. This depends on which crops and what the sites would be, as some thrive with or without solar generation,” said Baigés-Valentín, who collaborates with Fernando Pérez-Muñoz from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Ivonne Díaz-Rodríguez from the Economics Department.

“We are analyzing whether this is possible and under what conditions it should be. For example, in my case, I explore when the equipment reaches its end of life and does not generate more pollution. We still do not have the solution, but we must be serious and transparent,” Baigés-Valentín added.

Rosario, of the Amaneser 2025 collective – an alliance with various community groups that promotes training and education to address the ecological crisis in Puerto Rico, with an emphasis on renewable energy production – emphasized the need for a broader perspective on climate change mitigation. 

He said, “Photovoltaic farms represent the perfect answer to the wrong question. We have a tendency to perform one-dimensional analyses. In Puerto Rico, there is a discourse that is repeated around the world on the issue of climate change mitigation. First, we propose how in a small country any effort in this aspect is practically none. The sum of a large part of the emissions is insignificant in relation to those that occur on the entire planet. 

“Secondly, climate change is not the problem; rather, it is a symptom of the overuse and consumption of nature by human beings. In other words, we consume more than nature is capable of regenerating. We are on the way to an ecological disaster. Nothing is solved by switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy systems, which really aren’t [truly renewable]. An economic change is important, [as well as changing[ the way we live [to] consume less.”

Rosario’s group proposes a model where citizens build their energy systems at affordable costs, with collaboration from 10 municipalities and four more joining soon.

González, representing the Puerto Rico School of Agronomists, argued against using fertile agricultural land for photovoltaic energy production.

The agronomist said, “Photovoltaic energy production, if it uses the best fertile land, is not compatible with agriculture. We must treasure these productive lands, given that we live with a climate conducive to planting. They want to promote these photovoltaic projects as if agriculture could be carried out on them, but they are not compatible. 

“Energy generation must be [integrated] in a clean way with agricultural production. Right now, proper planning is important. Almost all of our food comes from abroad, although we are self-sufficient in fresh milk, bananas and plantains. The coastal valley must be protected from cement, as well as from the construction of urbanizations, and solar panels can be built without affecting the land.”

Panel discussions included topics on international perspectives, risk mitigation, coastal hazards, litigation challenges and renewable energy. The presentations were given by the Puerto Rico Planning Board, the National Weather Service, the American Association of State Climatologists, the Schiller Center for Science and Environment, the U.S. Army Engineer R&D Center, and the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, among others.

Author Details
Author Details
This content was produced by News is my Business staff members. Send questions, comments, and suggestions to [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *