“A show of democracy at work”, is how the Minister with responsibility for the Environment described the protest action outside the House of Assembly on Friday by environmentalists demanding the need for action on climate change and pollution.
Carrying placards with slogans saying “There is no Planet B”, “People over Profit” and “If not now, then when” participants gathered outside the House at lunchtime to air their views.
In a statement released after the protest, Minister of Home Affairs, Walter Roban said: “I encourage and welcome an open dialogue regarding sustainability and the preservation of our island and world.
“Today was a show of democracy at work, and I will continue to foster an inclusive and transparent process around what the Ministry of Home Affairs is doing to address the concerns laid out today, and previously.”
The Minister continued: “I would like to encourage the public to read about what is presently being done within the Ministry to encourage a greener Bermuda. I too, am personally invested in seeing a more sustainable Bermuda come to fruition and will continue to advance various initiatives and projects within this Ministry to ensure this becomes a reality.
“I look forward to having meaningful conversations with groups who are committed to protecting Bermuda’s environment for everyone.”
Jamahl Simmons, the Minister without Portfolio, and other MPs spoke to the protesters when the House of Assembly rose for lunch yesterday.
Mr Simmons said the Government had heard the concerns of the demonstrators and that action was being taken.
But he said: “It takes time, but we do take note of your message.”
Mr Roban also highlighted a series of government projects including:
- The Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Project in collaboration with the WAITT Institute
- Reducing energy consumption through the LED exchange initiative. Currently, participating retailers are accepting one incandescent bulb in exchange for a more energy efficient LED bulb. This initiative not only saves consumers money in energy costs but is also a means in which the public can reduce overall energy consumption
- Conserving and protecting the island’s natural resources through the sustainable Bermuda Plan 2019. The Draft Bermuda Plan encompasses three strategies; : a Conservation Strategy, Development Strategy and a Community Strategy. As a general aim, the Plan places a greater emphasis on the need to encourage local food production, incorporate green infrastructure, improve the walkability of neighbourhoods and build community understanding and resilience to the local impacts of climate change
- Better protection for Endangered Plants and Animals. The Ministry of Home Affairs is currently working to amend the Endangered Plants and Animals Act 2006 to create a more robust regulatory framework to reinforce its commitment to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Goals to eliminate single-use plastics. Using a phased approach, the Government has committed to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022 and the intervening years will be spent educating the community about recycling and reusable items, and encouraging greater sensitivity to the ocean and its importance to our lives. By 2020, a charge on single-use plastics will be instituted as we move to the point of elimination
- Invasive Species: Bermuda is currently vulnerable to the introduction and proliferation of new alien invasive species (AIS) of animals and plants that could have a dramatic impact on the island’s environment, economy, human health and social fabric. The Government is addressing this by developing new legislation to prevent the introduction of new AIS to Bermuda and means to reduce the risk of their establishment and proliferation in order to safeguard the island’s unique natural environment and human health but also important industries such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism
- Encouraging aquaculture. Aquaculture refers to the farming of salt water and freshwater organisms like finfish, crustaceans, molluscs. Recognising the continual interest in the production of farmed fresh water/brackish water fish on land, Bermuda is developing a robust regulatory regime that can capitalize on this interest and ensure the production of high quality products with minimal detrimental impact on the island’s sensitive environments