UNLIKE individual resolutions, the environment doesn’t get to make a fresh start with the dawn of each new year.
The state of the world’s seas, swamps, rivers air and land depends on the willingness of humans and policy makers to protest nature’s right.
Trinidad and Tobago’s environmental scene got off to a painful start in 2014, with a series of oil spills washing the southern peninsula and affecting health and livelihood.
The Express spoke on Wednesday with two of this country’s most vocal environmental activists about their wishes for better environmental management in 2015.
I appeal to all citizens to put country before self...
Gary Aboud, secretary Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS):
“I have a few short but powerful wishes for the coming year,” Aboud said a telephone interview.
“First, the State-owned Petrotrin must act honourably and disclose all the high-risk pipelines that are a public and environmental endangerment.
“Also, Government must stop immediately with the secret re-writing of the Environmental Management Act, which I understand is underway.
“Next, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) must acknowledge what is mounting global evidence of the negative impacts of seismic surveys on the marine environment, and therefore hold its hand in granting approval for any new seismic operations.
“I would also like the Government to examine and adopt as much as possible the Norwegian model of oil and gas saving for a rainy day and stop this wild-west whoring of contracts, without proper tendering procedures. The accountability of each and every public servant must also be increased, not just that of ministers.
“Lastly, I appeal to all citizens to put country before self, especially as we may face a massive global adjustment in energy price.”
Give Mother Earth 1/10th as much care and consideration as we do Carnival...
Marc de Verteuil, Papa Bois Conservation (PBC) :
Here are some of my wishes for 2015:
The declaration of Tucker Valley as a national park for conservation.
Serious moves to reduce T&T’s CO2 footprint, which is currently the world’s second highest per capita — completely at odds with our status as a small island developing state (SIDS)
The scrapping of the fuel subsidy. This makes sense for both the treasury and the environment.
Management heads to roll at Petrotrin if there are any more oil spills.
The implementation of a shark sanctuary in Trinidad and Tobago. Many shark species are imperilled worldwide and we can not claim to be a civilised, sustainable nation while eating endangered species as a holiday snack. By protecting sharks we can be at the forefront of international conservation efforts.
The extension of the hunting moratorium.
A fully comprehensive wildlife survey, the results of which will allow a scientific wildlife-management policy.
The introduction of renewable energy (RE). Right now T&T has one of the world’s lowest RE penetration rates.
Illegal mining must be stopped. There is no excuse to allow illegal quarries to prosper at the expense of the people, forests and safety. If the police are not up to the job, send in the army.
Implementation of a mass-transit system and infrastructure. We can not continue to build more highways, to accommodate more cars, to create more traffic jams. What we need is 21st century transport like a light rail, electric buses, bike paths. Good for mobility, the economy and the environment.
The enforcement of the law, both those that affect the environment and all others. We often say that we need new laws to ban this and that, when in reality those laws already exist in some form or the other, but they are simply not enforcement.
The strengthening of institutions and ministries. The EMA can not do its job without adequate resources, nor can Fisheries Division Forestry Division or any other government agency.
I have visited the Fisheries Division office on Cipriani Boulevard many times. It is a deplorable building. My heart goes out to the people who must work there. They are in charge of a resource that is worth billions of dollars. At the very least, let them be housed properly.
The impending financial crisis could have been softened if the economy had been diversified away from being dependent only on fossil fuel extraction. It is never too late to start that process. It is better we do it ourselves while we still can, rather than have the IMF ram change down our throats.
The introduction of waste separation and recycling.
For Trinidadians and Tobagonians to give Mother Earth 1/10th as much care and consideration as we do Carnival - then we will be alright.