During his Opening Press Statement at the first Regional Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean, within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), on August 16, 2022, Bahamas Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said that the participating countries had come together, with shared determination, so that in November we will speak in one voice, at COP27, 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,” Prime Minister Davis said, at the press conference, held at Baha Mar Convention Centre. Also present were Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Ryan Pinder; Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change and Environmental Matters, Rochelle Newbold; and Director for Transparency at the UNFCCC, Donald Cooper.
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, in 2019, almost exactly three years prior, The Bahamas was hit by a Category 5 storm.
“Hurricane Dorian devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama, ripping up homes and businesses and schools, shattering families and communities and resulting in the loss of many lives,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“We live in a region accustomed to fierce storms,” he added. “But the scale and scope of this tragedy, and the certainty that more Category 5 storms are in our future, underscored not just for Bahamians, but for many throughout the Caribbean, the urgency of addressing climate change.
“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.” mPrime Minister Davis noted that 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,” he 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,” Prime Minister Davis added.
“In fact, half of my country’s debt can be linked to hurricane damage.” Prime Minister Davis noted that burning fossil fuels had generated an enormous amount of wealth, globally.
Yet, he noted it was countries like The Bahamas, that had contributed “such a tiny fraction” of global emissions, that were 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,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“I remain optimistic about our collective ability to meet the challenges of climate mchange. I believe we can change course,” he added. “On behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, I would like to thank the UNFCCC for their support in hosting this regional heads meeting.”
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