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Throne Speech: climate change policy plea

Jonathan Starling

Greenrock is hoping a commitment to tackling climate change will be part of the Government’s upcoming Throne Speech.

The environmental organisation has also outlined six areas of importance including marine conservation, tackling litter and an updated white paper on energy.

Greenrock’s executive director Jonathan Starling said that while the Government had set up a Climate Change Taskforce, it remained unclear what had been done. He said that a Climate Change Act, similar to that in the UK and the Scottish Climate Change Act 2009, were good examples for Bermuda to follow.

“These Acts set clear targets for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and shifting towards a low carbon economy,” said Mr Starling.

“While Bermuda is a relatively small player on the global stage, we can have global influence by showing the world that a greener, fairer future is possible.

“At a minimum, such an Act should commit us to have 50 per cent of Bermuda’s energy produced from renewable resources by 2030, and 80 per cent by 2050. We would also like to see Government ratify the Paris Agreement, like it did with the Kyoto Agreement previously.”

In a commitment to reducing marine debris and threats to wildlife, Greenrock called for a Single Use Carrier Bags Charge Act which has been introduced in other countries around the world with positive effect.

Mr Starling also said he hoped that the America’s Cup would act as a catalyst for greater marine conservation, suggesting a revisit to the idea of a marine protected area around Bermuda’s waters.

“We were disappointed that the Government chose not to proceed with the Blue Halo proposal.

“This initiative was beginning to generate conversations about how best to use our Marine Economic Exclusive Zone in a sustainable manner. Our hope would be that with the America’s Cup in 2017 this can provide a catalyst for greater marine conservation and protection.

“While we will continue to support the Blue Halo concept, we would support anything that increases marine conservation.”

Reducing litter is also on the agenda along with renewed calls for a bottle deposit system where reward is given for recycling while mandatory recycling was also an option they hoped would be explored.

Mr Starling said an updated sustainable development plan as well as an updated white paper on energy were also necessary. He said: “The original Sustainable Development Plan is dated, being over a decade old. While much of the original plan has been implemented or is in the process of being so, it is long overdue for an update.

“The original plan was far-reaching and comprehensive, based on widespread consultation.

“We recognise that the Sustainable Development Department has now been merged with what was the Central Policy Unit, which has the potential for making sustainable development central to Government policymaking. However, one of the weaknesses of the original sustainable development initiative was that it wasn’t backed up by legislation, which greatly weakened the potential of the plan itself and the relevant department.

“Introducing a Sustainable Development Act that ensures (a) regular reviews and updates of Sustainable Development Plans; (b) making sustainable development central to government policy; and (c) clarifying the role of the Sustainable Development Roundtable as an independent watchdog and guardian of sustainable development in Bermuda would be beneficial for all.

“We also think it is important to stress that sustainability must incorporate not simply the environmental, but also include economic and social sustainability.

“The 2011 White Paper on Energy remains a key document in outlining Energy Policy in Bermuda, and we welcome the introduction of the Electricity Act 2016, albeit with us having some reservations concerning it as not being strong enough regarding renewables. However, we think it is time for this document to be updated to prepare a road map for energy policy through to 2030 — with regular five year reviews.”