Save energy, save money: Solar panels are just one of many products we can choose to use that are environmentally friendly. *Photo supplied
Save energy, save money: Solar panels are just one of many products we can choose to use that are environmentally friendly. *Photo supplied

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31: BEST’s Blueprint on sustainable development aims to outline what it means to be a sustainable community and what it will take to get there.

Over the coming weeks the Bermuda Sun will continue publishing the text of the Blueprint, section by section.

 


“Of the total energy produced on Earth since the Industrial Revolution began, half has been consumed in just the last twenty years. Disproportionately, it was consumed by us in the ‘rich world’ — we are an exceedingly privileged fraction.

“Today it takes the average citizen of Tanzania almost a year to produce the same volume of carbon emissions as is effortlessly generated every two and a half days by a European, or every twenty-eight hours by an American.

“The greatest possible irony would be if in our endless quest to fill our lives with comfort and happiness we created a world that had neither.”

— From ‘At Home’ by Bill Bryson.

 

The vast majority of Bermuda’s energy supply is currently generated from imported fossil fuels derived from oil, the combustion of which is widely associated with a range of adverse local environmental and health effects as well as global-scale climate change.

Reliance on imported fossil fuels is not only associated with present and future negative environmental effects, but also contributes greatly to our energy costs — among the highest in the world.

These costs are unpredictable and liable to increase, with gas prices rising by around 10% over the past year and 5% in February 2012 alone.

Recent reports predict several adverse impacts on Bermuda resulting from changes to the global climate.

However, our per capita greenhouse gas emissions of 14.44 metric tonnes are currently more than twice the world average and over 14 times the sustainable level suggested by climate scientists.

Bermuda’s high per capita greenhouse emissions result in part not only from our reliance on fossil fuels but also from our relative wealth and high consumption patterns, with our per-capita emissions rising steadily over the past two decades.

There are, however, many simple ways that we can reduce our energy consumption without compromising our quality of life — ranging from energy saving power strips, light bulbs and appliances to hot water heater timers to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

Carbon footprint

On a larger scale, energy audits and better energy management in multi-storey buildings, and a movement away from energy-intensive (and therefore expensive) processes such as desalinization of sea-water, could also greatly reduce our carbon footprint without compromising quality of life.

Such small and large-scale solutions can bring significant cost savings to households, businesses and the Government.

The 2011 Bermuda Energy White Paper entitled “A National Energy Transition” contains Bermuda’s first national energy policy and provides a plan that, if followed, should enable us to use energy in an increasingly sustainable manner, not only limiting the damaging environmental and health effects associated with fossil fuel use but also enabling long-term energy security.4 This document and the dialogue surrounding it comprise an excellent first step in tackling Bermuda’s energy issues and include many of the critical ingredients that should enable cost-effective and long-term solutions.

BEST believes that every Bermudian has a role to play in reducing energy consumption and embracing renewable solutions. BEST supports efforts to translate what is a well-researched and widely-consulted plan contained in the Energy White Paper into tangible, positive action leading ultimately to a smaller energy footprint with a cleaner and more sustainable energy base.

This document was researched and written by members of the BEST research team led by: Alaina Cubbon, Stuart Hayward, Frances Marshall and Marlie Powell.

In the next issue: In the next issue: Pollution: ‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children’ — Native American Proverb.