A Beaconite took an overnight trip to Virgin Gorda over the weekend and found that most of the hotels on the island were booked. This is good news for the Virgin Islands, which has struggled to keep tourism up throughout the pandemic. Hotel owners and yacht companies are saying that people who have been shut out of the territory due to the pandemic are eager to return as soon as possible. Saba Rock was booming with guests, and the waters were filled with boats. The reporter finds it nice to see the territory livening back up. On the local front, there was the first BVI Fish Fete on Saturday, which drew a large crowd of people. She saw pictures that reminded her of festival events and concerts held during her first year in the territory, 2019. She applauds leaders for keeping the people of the territory safe while slowly opening back up without having to completely shut down if cases got out of control. She hopes to see increased awareness of how the pandemic has affected individuals and businesses and hopes the government will address these lasting effects. She also hopes everyone will take the necessary steps to stay safe.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the pact signed at the end of the United Nations climate change summit on Saturday was how predictably weak it is. Activists throughout the two-week COP26 conference were open about their lack of faith in governments, businesses and financial institutions around the world to do what was necessary to save humanity from the climate calamity waiting if countries continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate. In one of the more memorable speeches, Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate begged world leaders to prove her wrong for feeling so hopeless. It’s unlikely she feels they rose to the occasion. To be sure, the pact, to which representatives from almost 200 countries signed, included some historic provisions, including a mention for the first time in UN climate accords of the “fossil fuels” responsible for global warming. The agreement also recognised that developed countries must take more responsibility for cutting carbon emissions than poorer countries that have historically contributed far less to global warming and will suffer far greater consequences from a hotter planet. What it did not include, however, were any concrete plans for countries to immediately rein in their emissions, or any penalties for countries that fail to hit even the vague targets included in the pact. For many observers, the biggest win of the pact — a commitment for all signatories to reconvene next year with more ambitious mitigation and emissions reductions targets — is hardly worth celebrating. At best, some say, it just buys leaders of the wealthiest nations and stewards of the largest troves of capital more time to try and prove Ms. Nakate wrong.
Last week saw a massive outcry in the United Kingdom when parliamentarian Sir Geoffrey Cox was found to be earning substantial payments from the Virgin Islands government for representing it in the Commission of Inquiry, while at the same time still working for his constituents in the UK House of Commons. Whether or not it was inappropriate for him to wear these two hats remains hotly debated. Meanwhile, the issue trickled over to the VI. Out of the blue, journalists from all over the world wanted to know if Sir Geoffrey was in the territory and if so, where he might be. A Beaconite who decided to try to answer the same question felt like she was in the middle of a detective thriller as she raced from one end of Tortola to another, following leads and making phone calls. Although she did not manage to track down Sir Geoffrey, it was certainly an exciting few days.