Government of Bermuda: Protecting the Environment
The Cabinet Office today announced, in 2016, many nations across the world entered into the Paris Agreement, pledging to work together to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Agreement provides a pathway for sovereign nations to work together on climate mitigation and adaptation efforts while encouraging participants to increase their commitments over time.
However, even in the short time since the Paris Agreement was signed, tropical storms, floods, extreme heat, wildfires and other climate-fueled disasters have impacted the lives and well-being of hundreds of millions of global citizens worldwide, threatened international supply chains, and put countless communities at risk. It is clear that every global citizen may be at risk from climate change. Accordingly, every actor within the global community should do its part.
Bermuda is not immune or isolated from the impacts of climate change. Our island is exposed to sea level rise, increasingly severe and frequent storms, and to changes in ocean currents and weather patterns. Isolated, beautiful and unique, Bermuda is home to the most northerly coral reef system in the world, is a critical habitat for marine biodiversity and is the only landmass in the Sargasso Sea. We are a treasure trove of environmental wealth, a capital of ocean conservation, and a key player on the global stage of financial risk management.
As an island community vulnerable to the effects of climate change; and as a global capital of climate related financial risk management, we are determined that Bermuda will participate in the international response to ensure our collective safety and prosperity.
To that end, we are declaring today that Bermuda is committed to increasing our protection of fragile ecosystem, reducing our carbon footprint and mitigating the impact of climate change. The work has already begun.
We continue to collaborate with our partners both locally and internationally to protect our ecosystem and to mitigate the effects of climate risk, including:
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 and fragile ecosystem
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.
We have developed a strategy for the elimination of single-use plastics by 2022 which will be published for public consultation.
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.
Invest in initiatives to support adaptation and drive economic growth
Bermuda is the global capital of natural catastrophe risk protection. Building on our decades of resulting investment in human capital, business expertise and innovation culture, Bermuda will seek to play a leading role in Climate Risk Finance. As we have with tropical storm, wildfire, flood and other climate driven insured risks, Bermuda can play a critical role helping high risk regions bolster their financial resilience to the rising tide of climate peril.
Bermuda will continue to encourage the exploration of innovation in the built environment, and will welcome and explore new investments in clean and lower energy building and retro fits, low-carbon transportation, grid and infrastructure modernization, natural climate solutions, and community resilience.
In the coming years, our Government will continue to explore initiatives in line with the international community to tackle the crisis. We look forward to working in close partnership and dialogue with public and private actors to achieve this shared vision. We will consult with local and international leaders and community members, and seek to embrace inclusive processes in the formation and implementation of new frameworks, policies, and programs to tackle the climate crisis. However in addressing the climate crisis, and in participating in these collaborative efforts, Bermuda will endeavor to do so in a manner that does not exacerbate environmental justice conflicts nor ecological loss or damage
How we address the issues of climate will help determine our collective future. Bermuda stands ready to do its part and to support mutually beneficial collaboration.