Stemming the tide of climate change
by Julia Rawlins-Bentham
Beach enhancements and shoreline upgrades along Barbados’ South Coast and West Coast are just part of the island’s efforts to combat the damaging tide of climate change.
And ongoing plans to construct a waste-to-energy facility, the introduction of green energy vehicles, and the push towards solar energy, reflect Barbados’ continued commitment to reducing greenhouse gases and its reliance on fossil fuels.
But, the reality is that climate change, now recognized as a global phenomenon, particularly among small-island developing states, is here to stay!
Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe believes the voracity of its impacts may be determined by how citizens of a country live and treat their environment.
He highlighted the fact that the Inter-Governmental Panel On Climate Change recently published a report painting a bleak picture of what could happen if countries were not more aggressive in their attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally.
“This has caused us in Barbados to re-examine our behaviours and practices and determine whether or not we are doing our part under environmentally sound principles for sustainable development,” the minister said.
However, Lowe gave the assurance that Barbados was working with the United Nations Environment Programme to aggressively address the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
That places the country on track for meeting its global target of a reduction in greenhouse gases by between 40 and 70 per cent by the year 2050.
“Our own target to achieve 29 per cent in renewable energy consumption by 2029 is also specifically designed to reduce our dependency on fossil fuel-based energy,” the minister said.
And he affirmed Barbados’ continued commitment to leading the regional charge in becoming the greenest economy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
While industrially developed countries are the real drivers of climate change, Lowe stressed that Barbados had embarked on a development programme that sought to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels; reduce the use of open landfills and promote the full utilization of technologies that would drive the country’s consumption of renewable and alternative energy.
Evidence of this may be seen in Barbados’ move towards introducing waste-to-energy as the island’s central platform for the collection of waste and its full utilisation, and the successful closure of cells 1, 2, 3A and 3B at the Mangrove Pond Landfill.
The old landfill sites will now be fully covered, landscaped and used as the platform for building out Barbados’ green energy programme at that site, while the existing Cell 4 will be highly managed until the waste-to-energy facility is commissioned.
Lowe said the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage was also moving towards the introduction of low carbon vehicles as part of the fleet of the Sanitation Service Authority vehicles, in an attempt to reduce the amount of carbon emissions going into the atmosphere contributing to climate change impacts.
“We do clearly understand the hazards which can be associated with climate change. As a coastal state, we have started to see the evidence of the impacts of climate change as it relates to beach erosion, rising sea temperatures and rising sea levels,” Lowe outlined.
He further noted that significant changes in weather patterns and their associated impacts were also observed, but stressed that policymakers understood the implications for Barbados, especially as a tourist destination.
“We [have] therefore, decided to act now and to act swiftly. [And], we will continue to appeal to citizens to assist the state in achieving these national targets by ensuring that they continue to monitor their consumption patterns by excluding items that have negative impacts on our environmental practices; by avoiding illegal dumping, both on land and at sea; and choosing practices that promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” the minister implored.
Lowe gave the assurance that Barbados would continue to join with its Alliance Of Small Island States partners to continue the fight to adapt and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.
“Therefore, my ministry will continue to pursue efforts that would allow us to protect our environment and preserve our beautiful island not only for ourselves, but for future generations,” he stated.