By Kenred Dorsett, Minister of the Environment and Housing
Happy Earth Day! Countries around that world today will observe April 22nd as Earth Day.
The year marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day which was founded by Gaylord Nelson, a former US Senator from Wisconsin. The first Earth Day which was celebrated in America in 1970 and is said to have “led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passing of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts”.
The aim of Earth Day is to bring awareness to the importance of environmental protection and conservation. Since its 1970 beginning, the commemoration of Earth Day has spread to over one hundred and ninety (190) countries around the world including our beautiful Bahamas. This day is usually highlighted by events such as tree plantings, land and sea clean ups and awareness seminars educating on the topics of climate change, conservation and the like.
I cannot express enough how important it is that we continue to spread the message of environmental awareness to the people of The Bahamas. Not only is it vital to the preservation of our planet but it is of the utmost importance to our country. Our environment sustains our lives and livelihoods. In The Bahamas we have created a world class industry based on our sun, sand and seas. The industry of which I speak is Tourism which is the driving force of our economy.
In addition to our sun, sand and seas we also have great landscapes, beautiful marine life, coral reefs, blue holes, indigenous trees, flowering plants and wetlands. We have indeed been blessed and in order for our grandchildren and their children to be fortunate enough to enjoy what we are able to today we must change those human habits which harm or aid in the destruction of our environment.
Recognizing what the environment means to the Bahamas the government has advanced policies and initiatives aimed at promoting conservation and alternative energy use tariffs have eliminated on inverters for solar panels, solar panels, LED bulbs and LED appliances. We have entered a joint venture agreement to bring remediation and recycling to the New Providence Landfill. We announced the energy sector reform policy included in which is the government’s commitment to 30% renewable energy use by 2030 and reducing our country’s dependence on fossil fuels for energy generation.
We have also joined organizations aimed at assisting in the deployment of renewable energy use namely: the International Renewable Energy Agency and the Carbon War Room. Most recently legislation was passed allowing for grid tie in for persons and businesses generating energy through solar and wind technologies.
This year’s theme for the international Earth Day is ‘It’s Our Turn to Lead’. It is a call for all citizens around the world to ensure that world leaders do their part to make real commitments and changes to positively affect our fight against climate change. Bahamians can and should follow suit understanding that our beloved country is greatly susceptible to climate change. It is your turn to lead that leaders may follow.
Happy Earth Day.