More effort needed to tackle climate change this year
Environmental organisations and governments will have to focus on better co-operation in the fight against climate change this year, campaigners warned yesterday.
Andrew Vaucrosson, the executive director for the Bermuda National Trust, said it would take more than a year to undo the damage done to the environment – but that a united global effort would be the key to success.
He added that the island’s Government would have to balance economic development with environmental protection as it battled the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Vaucrosson said: “Bermuda has a long history of using construction as a means to help provide jobs when the economy slows down and what typically is sacrificed are parcels of arable lands that could instead be used for farming or open spaces for both physical and mental health.
He added: “There are many environmental groups worried that the transparency typically afforded in the past when it comes to challenging development plans is being undermined by the desire to find ways to make the local economy grow.”
Mr Vaucrosson told The Royal Gazette that 2020 was a “make or break” year to stop the effects of climate change from becoming permanent.
He admitted that Covid-19 put many environmental efforts on hold over last year.
But he added that, despite the reduced attention, global lockdowns had lessened the impact that humans had on the environment.
Mr Vaucrosson said: “In an ironic sense, this pandemic has given nature a chance to blossom.”
He added that the election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States could also strengthen environmental protection efforts.
Mr Vaucrosson said that environmental protection efforts had often been delayed by “geopolitics” and a lack of coordination between global leaders.
But he added that Mr Biden would be more sympathetic than Donald Trump, who is due to leave office this month, and recognise the dangers of climate change.
Mr Vaucrosson said: “The environment, like Covid-19, is not limited to borders and requires collaboration and collective action.
“Maybe this global pandemic experience may provide a good example on why countries need to work together, instead of just focusing on their own domestic agenda.”
Kim Smith, the executive director of the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, said that environmental organisations also had to collaborate.
She added that BEST planned to work with other climate activists in the hope that their combined resources would help them better combat ecological problems.
Ms Smith said BEST already had joint projects and had tackled topics such as conservation efforts, awareness of environmental problems and pushed for more environmentally-sustainable policies.
She added: “BEST is developing critical messaging to inspire greater understanding and appreciation of how critically important our environment is and how human activity affects it.”
But she said: “BEST recognises that, for many people looking out of their window in beautiful Bermuda, it is unlikely that they see the many signs of potential environmental disaster.”
Ms Smith appealed to the public to look at ways to reduce their impact on the environment, such as reducing their consumption and using their buying power to pressure businesses into greener practices.
She said: “We may be right in questioning how we alone can make a difference, but just imagine what could happen if each one of the seven billion others that share this planet with us commits to making positive changes.”