Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson

I’ve decided to begin this week’s article with a bit of a quiz to try to make sure you are all awake and paying attention. 

Let me give you the names of eight of our neigbours to the south and let’s see if you can guess what they all have in common: Aruba, The British Virgin Islands, the Colombian Islands, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and Turks & Caicos? 

If you guessed they’re all island nations like Bermuda you are correct but there is a much more important link.

If you don’t see the connection yet let me give you some more information. 

They are all part of a very exclusive club whose members have made a commitment to give up a commodity that they all agree is very damaging to their individual economies in terms of both sustainability and long-term health and prosperity.

The answer is that each of these small nations have become members of the ‘Carbon War Room’s Ten Island Renewable Challenge’. 

In doing so, each of them has committed to implementing national policies that will enable them to gradually give up their dependence on fossil fuels in favour of clean renewable energy.

The Carbon War Room ( was founded by billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to discovering and implementing business solutions that reduce carbon emissions and promote low carbon, sustainable economies.  

As Sir Richard said: “There is no Planet B”. The organization has global reach and is able to bring to the table a vast array of technical and legal expertise as well as international networks of investors and potential developers. This in turn helps smaller nations, with limited resources, choose and negotiate the best technology and investment options available.   

Of the eight participants, Aruba’s government, led by Prime Minister Mike Eman, is committed to the most aggressive trajectory of all, with a target date of 2020 for the transition to an energy portfolio of 100 per cent renewables. 

Aruba is working with CWR, to develop a strategic plan to become the first country in the world entirely free of fossil fuels.

Once an oil producer itself, Aruba already produces 20 per cent of its energy via solar and wind power and now the partnership with CWR is helping to turn Aruba into the world’s ‘poster child’ of how a country can succeed on itsquest for energy independence. 

In the words of Energy Minister Mike D’Emeza: “The move to energy independence has had dramatic results: electricity prices, which were US 33c/kWh in 2009, have dropped 25 per cent and are stable; inflation has been reversed; the island has nearly paid off the $300m it cost to switch out of diesel; the price of drinking water has fallen by almost a third; and the number of people unable to pay their bills has declined drastically.

“We had been grappling with very high energy costs for 15 years. We realized that our dependency on fossil fuels was leading to political and economic instability. We had to act. 

“Aruba is already enjoying health and economic benefits. More tourists are keen to visit a green island, and children are fitter because it costs families less to pay for sports, and there is less illness. It has been very popular. Instead of energy prices being the top of the political agenda, the debate now is about which is the best renewable energy source Aruba should go for next.”

If you’ve been paying attention you should have noticed I’m talking about a ‘Ten Island Renewable Challenge’ with only ‘eight’ participants. 

Invitations to attend the inaugural summit meeting were extended to other nations, including Bermuda, but sadly we chose not to attend. 

Even more sadly, we have made no attempt since to try and play catch up. Bermuda is falling further and further behind the pack in the race for energy independence, sustainability and economic stability as we desperately cling to our misguided reliance on other people’s dirty fossil fuels. To our Premier and Government I say this — We need to adopt the ‘Political Will’ to make ‘Real Change’ in Bermuda and we need to do it NOW!  

Nick Duffy is the divisional manager at Bermuda Alternate Energy. Comments and suggestions to