While our personal choices (eg recycling) are vital to the health of Bermuda's environment, the Government also has a large part to play. From legislation to incentives, our elected officials and their policy choices are key. Greenrock is asking the Government to take action to promote sustainable living, reduce the cost of living and increase investment for the future. Here is our list of things the Government should do to really have an impact:

Energy conservation

The Energy White Paper was commissioned and paid for by the Government and is a good place to start. However, it does recommend hundreds of separate pieces of legislation; therefore to help prioritise we have identified the actions and legislation that are likely to make the most difference:

  • Follow through with energy audits for large buildings; with a requirement that they work towards a minimum efficiency standard. The Government should start with its own buildings and schools as the cost of the audit and investment will rapidly be repaid in savings in electricity bills. The Government should also put PV solar power on government buildings. This is not a new technology. Electricity production is well aligned with demand, and pay back times in Bermuda are generally seven years or less for larger installations. More solar generation will also start to take the pressure off BELCO to expand their generation capacity.
  • The Government should take the lead in introducing electric or hybrid vehicles as the adoption of these by the public is limited by availability and infrastructure. A government fleet with charging infrastructure makes a lot of sense and would be an excellent way to boost 'green' vehicles in Bermuda. We also need to standardise tariffs for electric vehicles and their parts. Some tariff relief is available for electric cars and bikes, but the incentives are inconsistent: all electric vehicles, including trucks, buses, golf carts etc, should be duty free, as should their replacement batteries and any charging infrastructure.
  • Require minimum energy efficiency standards for appliances brought into Bermuda. Efficient appliances are competitively priced and the energy efficiencies have a big effect on electricity use over the lifetime of the appliance, particularly those in constant use such as air conditioners or fridges.

Living more sustainably

Bermuda businesses such as the ACE Group, Hiscox and HSBC have already demonstrated that they understand that "going green" means significant savings to the cost of doing business. The Government needs to apply this understanding Island-wide:

  • The RFP to replace the Tyne's Bay Waste to Energy Facility presents a significant opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emission, increase our reclamation of useable metals and to generate electricity. These benefits should all be looked at over the life-time of the plant as they are issues that may not have a significant impact today but which are likely to have an increasing impact over time.
  • Encourage recycling in Bermuda: Make it a requirement of event licenses (for example beach events or sporting events such as Cup Match and the World Rugby Classic). Re-establish weekly recycling for homes and institute incentives to recycle. We are currently just sending valuable resources up in smoke!
  • Encourage the establishment of renewable energy. The 'experiment' of putting PV solar panels on domestic roofs has demonstrated that installations are safe and valuable; the Government must provide incentives to encourage this so that lower income people who are likely to experience greater benefits can afford the installations. We also need to look hard at why we have no commercial scale renewable power installations: the Government should be proactive about zoning land for commercial scale wind and solar power and require power lines to be sized to carry commercial loads inwards from these sites. Requiring BELCO to account separately for electricity generation and grid management would also make feed-in tariff discussions much more transparent and make it easier for prospective businesses to build a business case.

Catching up with the rest of the world

As a small island Bermuda is in an excellent position to be able to manage goods that enter and waste that is generated on the Island. Despite this we are well behind the rest of the developed world (and parts of the developing world) in managing the sustainability of our choices.

  • There is no excuse for not having energy efficiencies written into the planning code. New developments and renovations should, for example, require solar thermal hot water (Bermuda's climate is ideal for using the sun to heat hot water). Changing building practices is tedious and sometimes unpopular, but the impact in terms of reduced cost of living and energy use is immediate.
  • We should phase out incandescent bulbs. While there are challenges with disposing of compact fluorescent light bulbs (because of traces of mercury in the bulbs) LED-based lights use less than 10% of the electricity and prices are dropping dramatically. Brazil, Venezuela, the EU, Switzerland and Australia have all started to phase out incandescent bulbs and Argentina, Russia, Canada, the USA and Malaysia are all scheduling phase-outs. We should too.
  • 25% of the world bans or charges for single-use (plastic or paper) bags. Millions of dollars a year go off the Island to pay for a commodity that we typically use for less than 15 minutes. This is a pointless waste of money and resources and creates a litter problem. We should charge for these at the point of use; a charge has been shown to reduce usage by 60-90% without any inconvenience to consumers.

Keep your promises and protect our Island

Finally this Government has made promises that would protect our environment. The next Government, whether PLP or OBA, needs to keep those promises:

  • The requirement to monitor vehicle emissions at TCD was a good idea. We now have several years' worth of data on vehicle pollutants; it is important that this information is put to good use, and we propose that higher polluters should pay greater fees.
  • Establish Southlands National Park there has been a great deal of media attention devoted to this along with hundreds of hours of deliberation by elected officials, business and the public. It appears a majority of Bermuda's population supports this, and on that basis we would implore the relevant Government Ministry to make it a reality.
  • Carry out a public consultation for Blue Halo Marine Reserve an important initiative that would protect Bermuda's marine resources. Bermuda's population should have a chance to present their opinions, and the people should decide.

Your voice counts!

Ask your candidates about any and all of these issues. Raise these questions they are important to us today, and even more so to our children and future generations. Let's collectively use our vote to vote for a sustainable future.

 

This article was written by Greenrock President Judith Landsberg and featured in The Royal Gazette on 6th December 2012.

About Greenrock

According to The Footprint Network, which measures the ability of the planet to produce resources and absorb waste, our resource use and waste production is 60% more than the earth can produce or absorb annually.

This overshoot is the result of decisions that we each make every day. We seek to generate debate and to influence people to change their behaviour.We strive to be catalysts: Success for us is when we can Change the Mindset so that sustainable use of resources is included in decision-making for individuals, government or businesses. ... read more


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Telephone: 1-441-747-ROCK (7625)
Email: info@greenrock.org
Website: www.greenrock.org