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'Tremendous opportunity' for Bermuda to reduce fossil fuel reliance - Governor

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Governor Rena Lalgie (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Bermuda has “tremendous opportunities” to take action on climate change, the Governor has said.

Rena Lalgie added that younger generations will look for answers from their elders about what was done to address the global problem.

Since her arrival two months ago, she has had talks “about the very deep history and strong record that Bermuda has in terms of protecting the ocean environment and also protecting endangered species on land and at sea”.

Ms Lalgie added: “There are … challenges that are not at all unique to Bermuda that I think we need to work really closely together on – so reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and moving to more renewable energy.”

She told The Royal Gazette: “Having arrived in winter I’ve been really struck by the source that we have here for energy.

“I think there are tremendous opportunities for Bermuda, as there are for other islands, to really move to a place where we’ve got less reliance on fossil fuels, making more use of renewable energy.”

Ms Lalgie highlighted in December that residents “cannot afford to be complacent about climate change”.

She said this week: “It’s something that I think the younger generations are really going to hold us to account on and I know that is definitely true in my family, in my household.

“It was when we were in the UK.

“My children were very much at the forefront of really keeping the pressure on us to switch to an electric vehicle.”

The Governor added: “As we move forward I hope that it’s difficult for us to imagine the kind of things that we’ll be able to achieve.”

In an exclusive interview with The Royal Gazette, she said that there were “undoubtedly” perceptions overseas of Bermuda’s approach to tax that “don’t necessarily represent the reality”.

Ms Lalgie added: “There is quite a big difference, in my mind, between jurisdictions with low tax and jurisdictions which are shrouded in secrecy.

“Bermuda’s position on transparency and the commitments on beneficial ownership – on that alone - would demonstrate that this is not a jurisdiction that should be lumped in with others who take a very different approach.”

She said the Bermuda Government, regulators and business communities had “worked really hard to develop, rightly, a really strong reputation globally on transparency, on the regulatory frameworks that exist here”.

Ms Lalgie added that the island “fares very well when assessed internationally”.

She said: “I think there’s a lot to be proud of and … we need to keep doing what we can to bust some of those myths.”

Ms Lalgie pointed out that Government House continued to work with the UK and Bermuda governments to resolve passport problems that have plagued some Bermudian travellers.

The British Government took over responsibility for printing passports for Overseas Territories citizens in June 2016.

A new code on the documents has caused problems for some Bermudians travelling through the United States from outside the island.

The Governor said that the UK Government was “committed” to returning the code to address the problems.

She added: “There are some practicalities and logistics that need to be finalised and discussions are ongoing around that.”

Ms Lalgie said she was “personally very proud” of how the UK showed its commitment to supporting public health outcomes in Overseas Territories as well as economic objectives in the face of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

She added: “The support that’s been provided to Bermuda through the funding of the air bridges, the vaccines, the personal protective equipment, et cetera, is quite powerful, in my mind.”

She pointed out that the UK supported access to vaccines for countries around the world and was “the largest single country donor” to the international Covax programme.

She explained that Britain made a financial commitment of £548 million (about $760 million) to the scheme, to make available 1 billion vaccines for 92 countries.

Ms Lalgie said she did not want to “make any assumptions” about comments from David Burt, the Premier, after a post on his twitter account this week that highlighted “a renewed push for colonialism by administering powers (UK)”.

Mr Burt added later: “I think we have seen recently that the United Kingdom has taken actions that are not in line with the wishes of democratically elected local governments.”

Ms Lalgie said: “Successive UK governments have taken the position that the British Overseas Territories have the right to determine their own future.

“Therefore the UK Government will support and stand by the expressed will of people in terms of future relationship.”

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Published February 19, 2021 at 2:48 pm (Updated February 19, 2021 at 2:48 pm)

'Tremendous opportunity' for Bermuda to reduce fossil fuel reliance - Governor

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