Though it can often feel as though Bermuda is another world, the fact is, climate change is a global issue and not only do we play our own role in contributing to it, but we also suffer the consequences of poor decision making by other nations. Here we tackle the complex issues we face and what we can do about it all.
How is the Climate Crisis a Problem for Bermuda?
Small islands like Bermuda are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
For us, there’s no where to go when the sea levels rise or when a category 5 hurricane makes landfall.
Tourism, fisheries and agriculture will all be affected by the climate crisis should we not take critical action to stop it.
How Will Banning Single-Use Plastics Affect Our CO2 emissions?
Worldwide over 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced each year, half of which is single-use.
Examples of single-use plastic include water and soda bottles, plastic grocery bags, product packaging, straws, coffee cups, and plastic bags.
Because single-use plastic is produced from fossil fuels, the process of extracting and creating these plastics emits huge amounts of greenhouse gasses – around 1.5 million metric tonnes per year to be exact.
In addition to that, the refinement of plastics emits an added 184 to 213 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.
When done with our single-use straw or bag, we trash it, and it’s sent to the incinerator to be burned. The burning of plastic releases a cocktail of toxic chemicals, including one called Black Carbon which is has global warming potential 5,000 times greater than carbon dioxide.
If we can successfully ban single-use plastics in Bermuda we could take a major bite out of CO2 emissions and in turn, reducing our island’s impact on global warming.
What Are the Most Visible Signs of Climate Change in Bermuda?
- Coastal erosion
- Sea level rise
- Stronger, more frequent and more devastating hurricanes
- Increasing air and sea surface temperatures
- Changing rainfall patterns
What Are We Doing in Bermuda to Help Fight the Climate Crisis?
In 1620, Bermuda passed the first conservation law in the New World: legislation that protected the sea turtle after the first settlers gorged themselves on the marine reptile so much that its populations were in significant decline.
More than 400 years later and protecting our island and its inhabitants from significant environment change is still critically important.
The Bermuda Government has pledged to take climate change seriously and to date, here’s what we’re doing to stop it.
Reducing Our Carbon Footprint
In 2019, the Regulatory Authority (RA), the agency responsible for the electricity and telecommunications sector, released the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which sets the objective of achieving an 85% reduction in fossil fuel and a corresponding contribution of 85% from renewable resources by 2035. To this end, a number of Government buildings, commercial businesses and private residents are investing in solar PV.
A strategy has been introduced with an objective to achieve the reduction of transport related carbon emissions over the next 15 years starting with (1) the electrification of vehicles beginning with Government vehicles and public transportation and (2) the banning of 2-stroke motorcycles.
Protecting Our Environment
In 2019 with our partners, the WAITT Institute and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), we began the work on the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity programme to develop an integrated marine spatial plan that will include: (1) the designation of at least 20% of Bermuda’s waters as fully protected fisheries replenishment zones within the comprehensive Marine Spatial Plan; and (2) protection of key habitats.
We have introduced strategies for the restoration of seagrass and mangroves in addition to increasing our protected species to include sharks and manta rays to better manage imbalances in Bermuda’s marine ecosystems. On land, we are introducing an Island-wide tree planting strategy to remove invasive species, increase shade, and improve biodiversity.
Increasing our Adaptability and Resilience
The Government’s Bermuda (Development) Plan and Building Code has been updated to encourage and require adaptation measures, renewable energy and incorporating energy efficiencies.
The Government has developed a Water and Waste Treatment masterplan which will improve efficiencies and mitigate the effects of rising tides.
Does Eating Locally-Grown Produce Help to Mitigate Climate Change?
Eating local reduces the distance that food travels (food miles) and the emissions produced during transportation, thereby resulting in a smaller carbon/ecological footprint or “foodprint”.
Much of the lettuces, tomatoes, avocados, grapes, lemons, melons, peaches, plums and strawberries that we buy here in Bermuda is grown in California and has to travel first by truck and then by ship more than 3,000 miles and incurring a CO2 amount of 0.900 t.
Alternatively, if you shop locally-grown produce instead, the distance it has to travel is at maximum 21 miles, resulting in a small fraction of CO2 emitted.
Click below and explore our Climate Change Series, presented by BE Solar:
Understanding the Basics of the Climate Crisis
Bermuda’s Role in the Changing World
The Climate Crisis and the Threat it Poses to Our Environment