The Minister of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Vincent Wheatley has announced the that government will be upgrading its mangrove nursery to a mangrove bank as it tries to benefit from and also participate in the blue carbon market.
Blue carbon is referred to as carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems. Coastal ecosystems such as mangroves hide and store carbon and are now being recognised for their role in mitigating climate change.
The Blue Carbon Initiative works to protect and restore coastal ecosystems and many countries have turned to mangrove projects with the main aim of soaking up millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Wheatley announced the government’s plan after his return to the territory following his attendance at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.
The Minister of Natural Resources said the introduction of the mangrove bank is not the government’s only plan to restore and protect the territory’s coasts and reduce carbon emissions.
“[The government will also] strengthen legislation geared towards the protection of the environment, increase and encourage the use of renewable energy systems, electric cars and energy-saving light bulbs,” Wheatley added.
The minister was also part of the official UK Overseas Territories (UKOT) Association delegation which attended the COP26 summit to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The other OT members who were a part of the delegation were officials from Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman, Gibraltar and Turks and Caicos Islands.
The team also hosted an event on Nature and Land Use Day on November 6. The event explored how the UKOTs are taking action to counter and mitigate the effects of global warming and how they are safeguarding precious marine environments.
Participants signed an agreement pledging to reduce their carbon footprints by 2030.
“I thought it was very important that the voices of the Overseas Territories be heard loud and clear as we hold over 90% of the UK’s bio-diversity if sufficient funding is not secured for the protection of our environment, the consequences will be dire. The BVI is fully committed to doing its part in the race to zero,” Wheatley added.
The goals of COP26 are to secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach; adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, mobilise finance, and work together to deliver.
The Minister of Natural Resources said the Government of the Virgin Islands
will continue to implement legislation to safeguard the natural resources of the territory while exploring feasible methods to ensure sustainability and economic growth.