Roban: Bermuda must do its part to prevent climate change
Bermuda is ready for the impact of stronger hurricanes, but the community must do its part to prevent the global threat of climate change.
Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, told The Royal Gazette that Bermuda is better positioned than many to manage the impact of stronger storms.
His comments came after a study found that warmer ocean waters had caused storms around Bermuda to more than double in strength in the past 60 years.
The study by the University of Southampton and the UK National Oceanic Centre found the average wind speed of storms near Bermuda increased from 35 to 73mph between 1955 and 2019.
Mr Roban said: “It is very clear that the issues that are faced globally mean we are going to experience more extreme types of weather, whether extreme cold or extreme heat or anything in between.
“Due to Bermuda’s history and culture of building and developing mindful of extreme weather -- particularly hurricanes -- we are ready.”
Mr Roban said that since the landfall of Hurricane Emily in 1987, Bermuda had made a range of improvements to protect the island from hurricane damage.
He added: “We build everything with that in mind. There are no exceptions.
“I would say Bermuda is as ready as any other island that faces our situation can be, and we will continue to take an approach that is preventative.”
Mr Roban said the Government was also aware of the threat of coastal erosion, and said will work with international partners to mitigate that risk.
He said: “We are looking at these things and at working with certain partners about using modern technology to do an assessment around the coastal areas so we can get a better picture about their condition.
“I remember seeing some pictures in the news of cliff areas falling off and certain building structures looking like they were at risk.
“Certainly that means we need to give attention to the coastal areas, how we develop and build on coastal areas and, if we do build, how we make sure the methods not only maintain the integrity of the structure but is mindful of the environmental impacts as well.”
He said the island’s building code was regularly updated to reflect advances in technology and building techniques, but conditions that threaten the island were also considered.
Mr Roban said: “I don’t think our building codes are an issue, particularly if you look at what has happened in the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands in recent years.
“In some cases, they are mirroring the measures we have in place, so when it comes to the building code and the strength of our building methods and regulations facing extreme measures, they are fine but we will continue to update them.”
Mr Roban said upgrades to the electrical infrastructure as the island moves to adopt renewable energy will help to prevent widespread outages.
Government was also working with partners such as the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme to monitor and oversee the island’s reefs in an effort to protect them from threats.
While Bermuda alone could not solve the issue of climate change , it should do its part to mitigate the impact, he said, adding: “We are a tiny island surrounded by a massive body of water, surrounded by huge land masses that our influencing our own environment.
“We must do what we can locally to mitigate that.”
He called on people to consider purchasing electric vehicles and to look at energy efficiency when making other purchases to help both the environment and their wallets.
Mr Roban said: “We face some of the highest energy costs in the region.
“Even though the Government and the Regulator made a good effort last year to bring down rates - if you used the same amount of energy that you did in 2019 in 2020 you should have seen a reduction in your bill rate as long as you are not in a rate for higher usage - people will get the cost benefits if we become more efficient with the use of power.”