So many buzz words seem to be circulating these days when it comes to the environment; sustainable, carbon neutral, carbon footprint, balanced, offset, greenhouse emissions, eco-tourism, etc.
So how do we fit them into the scheme of things?
Bonaire is striving to become Carbon Neutral. Our goal is to become a tourism destination that is in balance. We will have our gas emissions (GHG) identified, measured, reduced where possible and 100 percent of the remaining emissions will be offset through high quality renewable energy, energy efficiency and or reforestation projects. This is the easiest way to describe how Bonaire will become a leading carbon neutral destination in the world.
Why a Carbon Neutral Program?
Based on our carbon footprint analysis, it is estimated that travel and tourism activities on Bonaire generate approximately 71,023.81 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This translates to the rough equivalent of one metric ton per visitor based on an average of 70,734 visitors annually. This impact could be decreased exponentially, depending on how the benefits of existing avoided deforestation, reforestation, and renewable energy projects (“offset projects”) are accounted for and leveraged to offset the carbon emissions generated by tourism annually. Using a conservative estimate of the current benefits of existing carbon offset projects, it is proposed that as little as 3,392.37 metric tons would need to be offset each year, which equates to 0.048 metric tons or 105.8 pounds of carbon dioxide per visitor.
Protecting the island’s indigenous trees from goats and donkeys will benefit 25% of the species; the planting of 125 native trees will offset carbon foot prints, and there will be a host of other initiatives geared towards contributing to a more healthy environment. The progression of these events will be seen by first time visitors to Bonaire and to those who come often and can be considered practical exercises in protecting nature.
The people of Bonaire and especially its youth, will play an active role in making these initiatives come into fruition and change the behavior of future generations. For the past 20 years, the “Keep Bonaire Clean Campaigns” which started in the schools and were aimed at keeping the population aware of the consequences of littering are still making a difference today. A resurgent program aimed at education and participation will be able to measure results over the course of the program in the months to come.