The following is a press release issued by Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (BEST)

"The press release issued on Tuesday by the Premier's office as a Statement on Global Warming was clearly intended to convey that this administration was a friend to the environment. However, given the government's repeated attempts to circumvent the planning process, and its diversion of funding from open space purchases and enforcement personnel, few Bermudians are likely to be convinced.

The latest data on global climate change are alarming, and it is clear that all countries need to do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Thus, any move by the Bermuda Government to seriously address this issue should be applauded. However, the Government's press release shows a serious lack of understanding of the Kyoto Protocol's requirements.

First, the Bermuda Government has no standing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and so any claim that it plans to do so is an inflation of the Island's importance. The government has only the option of joining the UK's ratification, something it could have done at any time since October 2006. In addition, if the Bermuda government chose not to join the UK ratification prior to announcing an election - an act which dissolved Parliament and effectively cancelled any opportunity for such a far-reaching executive decision to be taken - then the caretaker Cabinet would seem to have no jurisdiction to do so until and if it is reinstated by the electorate. In any case, there will need to be a massive overhaul of existing legislation if Bermuda is to limit greenhouse gases. Such an overhaul would require Parliament to be in session, something that cannot occur until after the general election. Thus, an announcement of such plans during the runup to a general election with no possible timetable for actual ratification only reinforces the perception that serious environmental issues are being trivialized for electioneering purposes.

Further, the Kyoto Protocol requires developed economies such as Bermuda to "agree to legally binding reductions in greenhouse emissions." Bermuda, in joining the UK ratification, would be required to reduce greenhouse emissions by 8% of 1990 levels by the year 2012. Without offering calculations of greenhouse gas emissions for the year 1990 and a strategy and timetable for that 8% reduction, the government's vague description of reduced emissions is empty and an embarrassment to the Island.

Instead of reducing greenhouse emissions, the Bermuda government's moves to use and permit larger two- and four-wheeled vehicles, to allow faster road speeds, and to encourage high-carbon, luxury hotels will more than likely increase Bermuda's greenhouse gas production. Similarly, the construction of multi-storied office and residential buildings in Hamilton to house the growing international business sector will increase, not reduce, Bermuda's greenhouse gas production. In addition BELCO's expansion plans further points to significant increase in the Island's percapita energy consumption, already one of the highest in the world, rather than a reduction. And it is worth noting that the government is remiss for not taking the lead in setting the Island's energy agenda.

The growth of the incineration stream, for example, is another indicator of higher consumption and waste, both of which add to the greenhouse gas production that must be charged to Bermuda's account. And it is the height of misleading to suggest that the Island's increased production of trash, which is requiring a third waste stream to be constructed and installed at the Tyne's Bay incinerator, is a positive event for the environment. Such a suggestion ignores the additional consumption of resources and energy in the production, processing, packaging and transportation of the goods that have expanded the waste stream - all of which add to, not subtract from, greenhouse gas emissions for which the Island is accountable.

However, it is in the area of enforcement of environmental legislation and adherence to existing "treaties" that the Bermuda government has been least environmentally friendly. Environmental enforcement personnel have been short-staffed, environmental budgets have been shortchanged, purchases of open space have virtually ceased and environmental scofflaws have been coddled by the current administration.

Most disappointing of all has been the government's failure to honour its own pledges in the treaty it has already signed onto known as the Environmental Charter. Among other clauses, this agreement binds the government to:

* Promote sustainable patterns of production and consumption within the territory;

* Undertake environmental impact assessments before approving major projects;

* Commit to open and consultative decision-making on developments and plans which may affect the environment;

* Ensure that environmental impact assessments include consultation with stakeholders.

In each of these the government gets a failing grade. And if the government has failed, despite constant prodding, to honour agreements it has already signed, what confidence can the community have it will honour any new agreements?"