Their ecological importance and the historic marginalization of their indigenous peoples has propelled Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to the forefront of the environmental movement. SIDS are internationally recognized for their critical role in the Paris Agreement of 2015 and as dominant players in encouraging increasingly aggressive country commitments during continued UNFCCC deliberations, given the direct implications of climate change and sea level rise.
Rebekah started the Sustainable Islands research working group at the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. This body of work uses historical case study, energy analytics and modeling to explore the challenges of renewable energy development in SIDS, exploring impact to indigenous communities and ecosystems, and identifing sustainable solutions for climate resilience. Such energy policy insight is important as SIDS aim to demonstrate to their larger global counterparts the feasibility of low carbon futures.
Rebekah published one of the earliest papers documenting the trend towards renewable energy technology in the Caribbean, with supervisor Professor Daniel Kammen. Through comparative analysis of Grenada, Jamaica, Curacao and Aruba’s experiences with solar and wind development projects this study identifies key challenges and opportunities for renewables in islands.
In collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Rebekah developed the first carbon footprint calculator for the Caribbean. Local data and consumption-based life cycle accounting techniques are used to household carbon footprints and trends in the US Virgin Islands, establishing a credible emissions baseline, and identifying mitigation strategies.
Contreras, R, Williams, M., de Cuba, K., Rice, M., Warren, A., Shirley, R. and Kammen, D. (2011). “Energy Policy and Sector Analysis in the Caribbean 2010 – 2011.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory Technical Report, U.S. DOE
Rebekah co-authored the Energy Policy and Sector Analysis for the Caribbean, synthesizing the state of policy development and highlighting the most progressive markets in the Caribbean – including Dominica, Grenada and St. Lucia. This inaugural report was widely-used as a primary data resource for regional climate change agencies.
Fava, M., Reynau, M., Mecchia, A., Voung, H., Shirley, R. (2013). “Sustainable Housing in French Polynesia.” Ministry of Housing, French Polynesia, Technical Report. Prepared by the University of California, Berkeley
Rebekah conducted research at the UC Berkeley Gump Station in Moorea and Tahiti to conduct an integrated study on the sustainability of low-income housing prototypes based on materials, source and thermal performance. The team also prepared a carbon footprint study used in publication for the Polynesian Housing Office.