By EARYEL BOWLEG
Minister of the Environment Romauld Ferreira insisted it was “the right thing to do” for the country to tackle the dependency of plastic use amid the public push back of the single-use plastic ban.
He gave remarks on Friday at the "Tackling Climate Change: What Italy & the European Union Are Doing to Help” forum hosted by the University of The Bahamas Climate Change Adaptation & Resilience Research Centre in partnership with the Embassy of Italy.
Mr Ferreira warned of the deadly effects that plastics had not only on the environment but on people’s health.
He explained: “We cannot talk about renewable energy, reducing our reliance on fossil fuel without tackling our dependence on plastics because it comes from that and the other big issue with plastics is that they all break down to microplastics. They all end up in the ocean and we’re on a trajectory to have more plastics in the ocean than fish.”
The Minister described how this affected The Bahamas: “And this is a local problem as well because many of us seem to think that these problems exist somewhere else out there and they don’t affect us. There’ve been numerous studies that have shown that microplastics are in the fish that we eat and that we consume. Seeing that we have some of the highest cancer rates in the world, this is the right thing to do.”
The 25 cent fee for plastic bags has been controversial, with Super Value Owner Rupert Roberts recently telling The Tribune that customers are disgruntled by the move.
The guest speaker at Friday’s event was the Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio who listed initiatives that have been taken in Italy –including becoming the first country to make lessons in climate change compulsory in schools.
And it Europe at large, the new European Commission's European Green Deal aims to achieve no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.
Mr Varricchio spoke about the assistance Italy has given to the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian.
He said his fellow Italians were "deeply touched" by the tragic event but also "inspired by the resilience of the Bahamian people."
“Italy and the Bahamas enjoy long-standing diplomatic relations and a strong friendship,” the ambassador said. “So we worked as hard as we could to activate the channels of support both at the national level and through the European Union to provide help with aid.”
He said that Italy and the Bahamas have a "deep conviction" to keep climate change on the global agenda as no nation "large or small, rich or poor" is "immune to the impact of climate change."
And Mr Varricchio noted one of his key messages to Italians was to encourage them to come to the Bahamas for business and tourism to help with the restoration.
Through the Italian government’s grant, Anatol Rodgers High School has solar energy which was implemented last year.