Recently a prominent columnist criticised the People’s Partnership Government for breaking the promise of having a dedicated Ministry of the Environment. The Government was further accused of awarding 17 quarrying licences without any Certificate of Environmental Compliance (CEC’s). The columnist, Peter O’Conner called for this Government to “begin to fix our country, starting with the most basic items, our forests and our watersheds.” Today Minister of the Housing and Environment, Dr Roodal Moonilal, as a guest columnist in our ongoing series, Cleaning Up The Mess, responds to the nation on what the Government intends to do to preserve our forested lands.
The dumping of more than 50 million plastic bottles (which, when heated, generate some of the deadliest toxins ever studied) and a million glass bottles into our already highly-toxic and overflowing dumps may soon stop. Minister of Housing and the Environment, Dr Roodal Moonilal, has announced that the Beverage Container Bill that which had been gathering dust since 2000 is in its final stages.
For some 50 weeks now, in this series we have been calling for waste management legislation and today we laud Dr Moonilal’s initiative to which he appears committed notwithstanding the powerful lobby of manufacturers of beverages and plastic containers. Today, Dr Moonilal as our guest columnist tells us what to expect with this long-awaited bill by every one of us who cares about our environment.
This week we continue our environmental series Cleaning Up The Mess with an ongoing guest column by Minister of Housing and the Environment, Dr ROODAL MOONILAL. Last week, Dr Moonilal revealed the Government’s position on Climate Change which continues this week.
Trinidad and Tobago as a responsible member of the international community is committed to pursuing a low-carbon development path consistent with the principles of sustainable development through the development and delivery of strategies and actions for maximising renewable energy resources, clean energy and clean production technology as well as adapting to the adverse impacts of climate change through integration within all aspects of national development in its infrastructural, human and socio-economic systems, at an acceptable balance of costs and benefits.
For over forty weeks now, this Guardian multi media series, Cleaning Up The Mess has been creating awareness about our neglected environment which has worsened in the past decade due to the absence of waste management legislation.This week we are heartened as the Minister of housing and the Environment Dr ROODAL MOONILAL begins a guest column series in this space starting with the pressing issue of T&T’s plans to reduce its carbon footprint.
Trinidad and Tobago has no legal binding commitment to reduce emissions but we are committed to pursuing development pathways that will follow a low carbon paradigm as far as is possible.Climate change projections for Trinidad and Tobago include for higher temperatures and lower rainfall. The mean annual temperature is projected to increase by 0.7 to 2.6 degrees Celsius by the 2060s, and 1.1 to 4.3 degrees Celsius by the 2090s.
If you or those close to you suffer from asthma attacks you will be interested in the scientific link between the dust in the environment and your health. In this week’s edition of Cleaning Up The Mess, eco-toxicologist, UWI lecturer Dr Azad Mohammed and Dr Marissa Gowrie, who have worked jointly on a research programme on the magnitude and impact of Saharan dust in the Caribbean are our joint guest columnists on Cleaning Up The Mess.
Every year from February to October, our blue skies periodically disappear behind a blanket of haze which can be attributed to increased levels of Saharan dust in the atmosphere. For those who suffer from asthma or other respiratory distress, it is also a sign to restock the medicine cabinet with extra refills for antihistamines and inhalers. It becomes entrenched in their daily routines, keys, lunch bag, hair brush, and yes the inhaler. Just like we have grown accustomed to wet and dry seasons, asthma sufferers have grown accustomed to the on and off season for symptoms.
For over 50 weeks now, the Guardian Multi Media series, Cleaning Up The Mess has been creating awareness about the sad state of our environment, on CNC3 television, on our Facebook page, and in this space, every Thursday. We have bemoaned the fact that we have had no waste management legislation for over a decade. We at Guardian Media also walk the talk. Today our guest columnist is Guardian Media’s NICOLE BACHAN, a young woman who finds out that in a nation with practically zero environmental awareness, getting a bunch of people together to plant some trees isn’t easy but the experience in partnering with the Forestry Division, for those who do care, is sublime.
In the first of this two-part series in our ongoing Cleaning Up The Mess space, Yang Youming, Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China tells us how the world’s most populous state with over 1.3 billion citizens, is meeting the challenge of preserving its environment without compromising its development as the world’s fastest growing economy.
In recent years, China’s economic development has coincided with a period when the awareness of environmental protection around the globe is significantly growing. It is therefore inevitable for China to run into unprecedented challenges arising from the environmental issue. China has not dodged the issue. The Chinese Government has taken a set of stringent measures in balancing the need of its own development and the responsibility it has to take in preserving the environment. China has made environmental protection as a basic state policy. In its 12th five-year programme (2011-2015) on national economic and social development, China pledged to accelerate the establishment of a resource-saving and environment-friendly society, highlighted by the concept of green and low carbon development.
This generation holds the environment in trust for the next. Given our shameful track record as being among the most polluted small island states in the world, operating without a waste management plan, simple litter laws are unenforced, recycling is virtually unheard of, unchecked quarrying has defaced much of our landscape, we feel it’s time that the youth speak up. Starting this week on Cleaning Up The Mess we feature a series of guest columns by students starting with Tamara Toolsie, an open scholarship winner, and graduate of law from University College London interested in environmental law and regulation in developing countries.
Cleaning Up The Mess continues its focus on the voice of the youth. This week, Tamara Toolsie, a law student interested in environmental law and regulation in developing countries, tells us how the concept of ‘environmental citizenship’ can help save our environment, which, sadly, in the absence of a comprehensive waste-management legislation and enforcement gets dirtier and more polluted daily.
Tackling environmental problems and fulfilling our obligations to the natural environment must be the responsibility of all of us, at all levels of society. Firstly, civil society is an autonomous and dynamic element which can monitor and keep governments in check. Universities and NGOs must contribute to increasing the visibility of environmental issues on the national level. NGOs, such as Fishermen and Friends of the Sea and The Rights Action Group, already take direct action by means of campaigns, protests and public-interest environmental litigation, encouraging increased public participation in decision-making.
Despite being among the richest countries in the Caribbean our environmental record is shameful compared even to tiny island states in our region, such as Barbados, which successfully recycles over 70 per cent of its waste. We recycle nothing. This week, Cleaning Up The Mess continues its focus on the voice of the youth. JOSANNE GOOLCHARAN, a UWI graduate of geology and geography expresses views that may interest the mayor of Port-of- Spain and the politicians who determine the fate of our capital city.