November 2021: Green credentials dented after incinerator failures forces return to trash landfill
The environment took centre stage when Bermuda was represented at a major international conference on climate change and the island held its first youth summit on the subject.
But the month ended with the announcement that part of Marsh Folly was being prepared as a landfill site for trash because of problems at the Tynes Bay waste-to-energy incinerator.
Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, attended COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, in early November.
He led an event – Our Vision for Healthy Oceans – organised as part of Nature Day.
Mr Roban told the audience that the safety and livelihoods of islands around the world were threatened by a rise in sea temperatures.
The conference renewed a pledge to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5C degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.
Mr Roban said: “The reality is that if this world doesn’t reach the 1.5 degree goal, our existence as a place to live, as a place to exist and to survive as people, will disappear.”
The Bermuda Business Development Agency also organised a lunch at COP26, where they promoted the island’s suitability as the world’s climate risk finance capital.
Young voices from different countries came together when the island’s first youth climate summit was held at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on November 22.
Speakers at the live-streamed event included Sumnima Ghimire, a researcher at the Youth For Environment Education and Development Foundation in Nepal.
She highlighted that more than 80 per cent of natural disasters were climate-related.
Jerome Foster, 19, the youngest member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, appealed to young people to use their energy and passion to demand change.
Mari Copeny, 14, also told young Bermudians to make their voices heard.
The teenager became famous for her work to highlight a contaminated water crisis in her home town of Flint, Michigan.
Mari told listeners to give themselves some room for error and not to be afraid to ask for help or take time off.
She said: “Find your village and stick with them – it makes pulling off large events and dealing with life a whole lot easier.”
He said that a marine plan, to be included in the anticipated Marine Development Act, will identify the 20 per cent protected area of the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
The minister added: “The process will guide the management of ocean uses across the EEZ, drawing on local expertise and utilising an environmental impact procedure akin to the Bermuda plan for land development."
Mr Roban later announced an agreement with international energy firm Seabased to create a wave energy farm off the coast.
He said that moves to get the Regulatory Authority to consider licences for new energy technology development would go before Parliament in early 2022.
Mr Roban added: “On completion of the project, the 40 megawatts wave park will provide about 10 per cent of Bermuda's energy needs.”
Belco confirmed that energy from the island’s first large-scale solar farm started to feed into the electricity grid on November 17.
The six-megawatt plant was developed by Canadian-based Saturn Power on a disused runway at the airport called the Finger.
MPs heard on November 26 that the Tynes Bay incinerator – the island’s only Government-run solid waste disposal centre – was on its way to failure, with a boiler and a waste bailer both out of commission.
The House of Assembly was told supply chain problems and Covid-19 had slowed the rate of repairs.
Wayne Furbert, the acting Minister of Public Works, told the House of Assembly: "With the tentative time frame to have both boilers back in operation being still two weeks away, we will simply not have room to store any more garbage.
“As such, the ministry is now preparing for its last resort for waste disposal – and that is reopening a portion of Marsh Folly for land filling.”