Earth Day 2024 Address by the Honourable Spencer Brand

The Honourable Spencer Brand, Minister of Planning and Environment in the Nevis Island Administration


Address by the Honourable Spencer Brand,

Minister of Planning and Environment

in the Nevis Island Administration on the occasion of Earth Day 2024



Fellow citizens, residents, and friends,


Since 1970, April 22nd has been celebrated as Earth Day. This year’s celebration focuses on the theme, “Planet vs. Plastic”.

This theme is timely as the world over is wrestling with the high pollutant of plastics in every facet of daily living. According to Global Water Partnership, “Plastic pollutes our oceans, lakes, rivers, and all other parts of Earth’s hydrosphere and affects more than 800 marine and coastal species by pollution through ingestion, entanglement, and other dangers.”

Additionally, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Global Plastics Outlook, 11 million tons of plastic flow into the ocean annually- an amount that may triple by 2040 if no action is taken. But as the world increasingly wakes up to teh rality of this global issue and efforts to address it are gaining momentum, some talk about the beginning of the end for plastic.

Here in St. Kitts and Nevis, we have committed to the cessation of the use of single use plastic which we feel will be a positive step in ensuring that St. Kitts and Nevis fulfills its mandate as a small island sustainable state.

In an article by Emily Chan on April 9th, 2024, entitled “Everything you need to know about Earth Day 2024” it was stated, “Earth Day 2024 comes as a worrying new report found that global concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide- the top three heat-trapping gases- reached a record high again in 2023.”

Meanwhile, a separate study found that Antarctica saw an astonishing rise of 38.5 degrees Celsius above its average seasonal temperature back in 2022, leading to major concerns about the alarming rate at which global warming is affecting our planet.

Ladies and gentlemen, because of this astonishing rise in temperatures it was also discovered that sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Atlantic are currently at record warm levels and are anticipated to remain well above average for the upcoming hurricane season. A warmer-than-normal tropical Atlantic provides a more conducive dynamic and thermodynamic environment for hurricane formation and intensification, according to the Colorado State University in its 2024 hurricane prediction.

The ocean has long taken the brunt of the impacts of human-made global warming, says UN Climate Change. As the planet’s greatest carbon sink, the ocean absorbs excess heat and energy released from rising greenhouse gas emissions trapped in the Earth’s system. Today, the ocean has absorbed about 90 percent of the heat generated by rising emissions.

As excessive heat and energy warms the ocean, the change in temperature leads to unparalleled cascading effects, including ice melting, sea level rise, marine heat waves, and ocean acidification- as reported in the UN Climate Change. This revelation highlights once again that since the first Earth Day of 1970, humanity continues to go in the wrong direction when it comes to the protection of our environment.

In an article by Olga Rukovets of April 2nd 2024, “Currently, we generate about 400 million metric tons of plastic waste every year worldwide- roughly the collective weight of the human population, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Nearly 36 percent of this plastic is used in packaging, including single-use products for food and beverage containers, and about 85 percent ends up in landfills.”

And these alarming numbers continue to grow, with production predicted to reach a staggering 1,100 million metric tons by 2050, absent any sort of intervention. It therefore means that we must provide alternatives to single-use plastics, and we must do so with a sense of urgency if we are to see any reduction in this plastic pollution.

Ladies and gentlemen, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2024 finds that environmental risks make up half of the 10 risks over the next 10 years. While our 36 square mile island has a negligible impact on the global environmental risk, we still need to play our part. We continue to see pockets of derelict vehicles littering our landscape, we continue to see the indiscriminate dumping of garbage in our ghauts- mainly plastics- that ends up in our oceans. We as a society must redouble our efforts to rid ourselves of this culture and practice, and I want to thank and encourage all the various stakeholders who continue to play their part in protecting and cleaning our environment.

The mindset of environmental preservation and protection must be taught from infancy, that will not only be engraved in our psyche, but will also become a way of life.

Finally, as we celebrate Earth Day 2024, under the theme “Planet vs. Plastic” let me thank all of the persons who on a daily basis continue to do their best to keep our environs clean. Your commitment and dedication continues to give hope in a troubled global environment.

Happy Earth Day 2024, and may we all become more environmentally caring. Our survival depends on it.

Thank you and God bless.

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