We Are Sailing, We Are Railing

Garff MHK Daphne Caine has confirmed the island’s delegation to the COP26 climate conference won’t be flying, they’re going to enjoy a uni student special and get there by sail and rail. 

Climate Change Transformation Board Chair Mrs Caine and two officers will make the trip to Glasgow to detail the blue carbon stores in Manx waters and other steps taken on island to improve our carbon footprint.

Speaking to Gef, Mrs Caine said: ‘We’re going by ferry and train, because you can’t fly into an environmental climate conference can you, from our island there wouldn’t be the justification. Plus from our island, it’s quite easy to get a train and the boat. But I mean ferry travel in the winter is not at the top of my list. I am missing old friends coming back [to the island] by going away, but obviously this is a huge honour to be delegated to represent the Isle of Man and promote what the Isle of Man is doing. 

‘We’ve got the nature day, Dr Fiona Gell from the climate change team, who will be presenting on blue carbon. The Isle of Man has a really good story to tell, not only are the only whole nation UNESCO biosphere reserve, but we’ve also got 10 marine nature reserves and we have areas protected from fishing, we just have a brilliant story to tell and that gives us a huge amount to build on for the future. Plus we’ve got the protection for peat lands, the Isle of Man has a fantastic story to tell and it will be privilege and an honour to see it up on the screens.’

Why Are We Going?

Always sceptical of trips abroad for politicians, even just to Scotland, Gef asked Mrs Caine why the island was going to COP26 and what she hoped to gain from the delegation’s visit. She explained: ‘To be carbon neutral by 2050, so whatever we’re generating, we’re also taking that back out, it’s a huge ambition for the Isle of Man. It’s a huge ask actually and a big journey to go on with some serious investment needed along the way. Whereas Jersey, for instance, already gets all of its renewable energy, we are not at that point. Even to get to 75% by 2035, the Isle of Man, in some ways, the natural resources, our nature reserves, we’ve got some good stories, the fact that we’re biosphere and we’re looking at biodiversity, but other islands have got incredible stories to tell to. 

‘Earlier this week Jersey hosted a small island’s climate conference, virtually, I did a little presentation about the island, it was fascinating to learnt hat Bahrain, year on year, keeps increasing its hottest ever temperature on record and how they’re building for that, Antigua and Barbuda, recovering from a 175mph hurricane that flattened Barbuda, Madeira, which is a similar climate to ourselves, yet they have issues with wildfires. So all those people are planning to attend COP26 and as small islands we will be able to get together, to share learning, best practice and one of the other big issues coming out of this is how do we pay for this? What investments do we need to make, and how, to ensure that we make net zero by 2050.’

How Are We Going to Pay For It?

A fair question. Tynwald did back a £400m loan earlier in the summer, a sizeable portion of which will be used to pay for, yes infrastructure projects, etc, but also for the transition to net zero by 2050. Mrs Caine said that while that pot of money is there, her board is charged with ensuring those schemes are delivered. She said of the Chief Minister, Alf Cannan: ‘He wants to see action as much as I do and that’s why I’m really pleased that he asked me to chair this new look transformation board, he wants action.’

Once the Climate Change Bill gains royal ascent, the gov will be obliged to write a five year rolling plan that outlines what the island is going to do in terms of climate change mitigation, the first of which will be due in the Spring. Mrs Caine added: ‘The direction I’m hearing form Mr Cannan is “where is our route map?” so the road map that is going to get us to carbon neutral by 2050, with all the key points along the way. And that is my job really, we’ve done endless amount of consultation and research and there’s been serious amounts of public support for the potential of wind turbines on or off-short, solar farms, renewable energy, tapping in through an interconnector. On that, we already have the one, installing another one, we are talking £100m plus to put a second one in to serve the yes, so yes we have to swallow a huge expenditure at that point, but then the benefits that the Isle of Man will reap and how much more quickly we’d be able to achieve a big reduction in our carbon emissions, would be significant.’

Mrs Caine wrapped out our interview by saying that in the last 30 years, the island’s carbon footprint has continued to increase and that ‘we’ve got to have a serious look at ourselves’. 

Green Hills by the Sea

Quoting a song about being green, though thankfully not like Boris Johnson when he quoted Kermit the Frog, Mrs Caine said: ‘We need to merit the title of green island, you know green hills by the sea, and be genuinely green and not only does that benefit the environment, save the planet and hopefully keeping our temperature increases below 1.5c, but in fact it should eventually mean lower running costs for people, we need to build sustainable homes, we need to have a real think about why are we putting gas boilers in hundreds of new homes as standard, why are we not having sustainable living air tightness standards, green standards and fitting solar polars on buildings, particularly in the government estate and all those huge buildings that we’ve got, particularly schools. 

‘There should be a rolling programme of what the government can do to show that it is serious about our carbon emissions and our commitment to climate change, but also assisting the whole community to come along as well.’

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