NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) –Prime Minister Phillip Davis of The Bahamas on Tuesday reiterated the need for developed countries to deal more seriously with the issue of climate change, warning that small island developing states (SIDS) remain vulnerable to the disasters linked to the environment.
Addressing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 27), Regional Heads of Governments meeting, Davis said that three years ago, the Bahamas was hit by Category five hurricane Dorian that devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama, ripping up homes and businesses and schools, shattering families and communities and resulting in the loss of many lives.
“We live in a region accustomed to fierce storms. But the scale and scope of this tragedy, and the certainty that more Category five storms are in our future, underscored, not just for Bahamians but for many throughout the Caribbean, the urgency of addressing climate change,” Davis said.
He warned that there is no country on earth where the impact of climate change cannot be felt.
“But for small island nations like ours in this region, the threat is existential. The World Meteorological Organization recently reported that sea levels rose more swiftly in the Caribbean region than anywhere else in the world in 2021. This is the front line,” the Bahamian prime minister said.
“We know we need to rebuild for resiliency, and to adapt to the realities of a warming planet. But that’s a task made harder by the economic impact of Dorian – that one storm alone cost our small country billions of dollars,” Phillips said at the start of the two-day meeting, adding “in fact, half of my country’s debt can be linked to hurricane damage,” he added.
He said burning fossil fuels has generated an enormous amount of wealth, globally, “yet it is countries like ours who have contributed such a tiny fraction of global emissions, who are both most vulnerable to the impacts of the accelerating changes in climate and badly positioned to afford adaptation strategies.”
“In other words, those who are the least responsible for the climate crisis are paying the highest price,” he said, noting that the meeting provides for an opportunity for delegates with shared determination to be able to speak “in one voice at COP 27” in Egypt on November 16-17 “on the most vital and urgent climate issues of our time.”
“Our goal is to construct practical climate financing solutions – ones that help us move forward, rather than lead to further indebtedness. I remain optimistic about our collective ability to meet the challenges of climate change. I believe we can change course,” he added.
In July, Davis, addressing the annual summit of CARICOM leaders in Suriname, said that the meeting in Nassau will allow for discussions on matters pertaining to climate financing and adaptation ahead of COP 27.
“The Caribbean as a region will need more than US$40 billion to finance adaptation efforts and disaster recovery. Over the last few years, many of our countries have not fared well. Small Ocean economies gain in negotiating strength and influence when we work effectively as one,” Davis continued.
The first Regional Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean is being attended by delegates from Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos.
The government said that the meeting also intends to establish a Caribbean response exclusive of the conventional Latin America-Caribbean pairing, to better reflect Caribbean states’ common geographical and geo-political issues.
The conference agenda will also focus on renewable energy, energy security, climate adaptation, climate financing, loss and damage due to tropical weather systems and establishing a framework for the sale of carbon credits.