Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said, “To date, actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change have not been a focus of national policy.
“This will need to change if we are to make any meaningful progress on the issues surrounding climate change.”
We hate to throw cold water on Cayman’s “anti-global warming” aspirations, but here’s a bucketful from the still-frosty Antarctic ocean: Any second that Cayman spends on attempting to combat climate change will constitute a waste of time, energy and money.
Consider the arithmetic: Let’s say about 60,000 people live in Cayman. Out of the roughly 7 billion people on Planet Earth, our country accounts for approximately 0.0009 percent of the global population, which, in statistical terms, is equivalent to zero. And that is precisely the net impact that Cayman could ever have on the global environment, no matter how we choose to live, commute or consume.
To believe for even a moment that moderating Cayman’s output of carbon dioxide could have any tangible result — other than harming our economy — can only be attributed to poor number sense, a lack of common sense, or sheer egotism.
Remember that Cayman is a society whose existence, as we know it today, is founded upon the burning of fossil fuels, whether it’s used to electrify our homes and businesses, or to power the planes and ships that bring people and goods to our shores.
“Policies relating to energy security and climate change are intimately linked as they both seek to reduce our current reliance on carbon-based energy production, and for the Cayman Islands, one is as essential as the other,” Environment Minister Wayne Panton said.
We disagree. While energy production is indeed linked to theories of climate change, in Cayman the idea of “energy security” is so much more significant than climate change that on a practical level there is no relationship.
We mentioned above that Cayman is utterly dependent on fossil fuels for the generation of electricity. That is probably not the most ideal situation for our country. This Editorial Board is always in favor of promoting increased competition in all areas of the private sector, and that includes energy production.
That cannot be achieved effectively or efficiently through the government’s setting of arbitrary targets for renewable energy. Rather than trying to reduce or eliminate Cayman’s carbon footprint, our officials should aim to reduce or eliminate taxes on all forms of energy — whether it’s diesel, natural gas, coal, geothermal, solar, wind or wave-generated. Then, let the people (after examining their pocketbooks and their consciences) decide what they want to consume.
When it comes to the free market and consumer choice, our officials should formulate policy based on the consideration of Cayman’s economy, and never on fanciful notions about the global environment.
(Editor’s note: We often find ourselves disagreeing in print with the actions of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie. Allow us to take a moment to give her some well-deserved credit. Just before Christmas, the government announced a new agreement with U.S.-based company Maxey Cosmetics to harvest the tips of sea whip coral in order to extract an ingredient that promotes the growth of eyelashes. Ms. Ebanks-Petrie was quoted as saying that Cabinet granted Maxey an exemption to the ban on coral harvesting because the cosmetics company agreed to her department’s recommended conditions. As part of the deal, Cayman’s government will receive a royalty of $25,000 per kilogram of harvested coral, plus an additional royalty for the extracted oil, which will be deposited into Cayman’s Environmental Protection Fund. In this instance, Ms. Ebanks-Petrie and her department put the interests of Cayman’s people before qualms over coral, and we congratulate them accordingly.