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Deveaux: Mitigation plan against global warming necessary

Fifty years may not be sufficient time for The Bahamas to initiate an adaptation and mitigation plan to save the chain of islands from the effects of global warming, particularly sea level rise, Minister of the Environment Earl Deveaux toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday.

A United Nations(UN)report released Wednesday outlining the”quantification and magnitude of losses and damages resulting from the impacts of climate change”in the Caribbean, has revealed that The Bahamas is one of the most vulnerable CARICOM countries to inundation due to a rise in sea level.

The report bolsters information in a World Bank report released in April 2009 that revealed The Bahamas to be one of the top 10 countries in the world at risk of intensified storm surges as a result of sea level rise.

In fact, the report cites The Bahamas as the number one country at risk in three of six categories, outlining those at-risk segments of the country’s land surface.

According to the World Bank report, 73 percent of The Bahamas’coastal population could be affected, 65.7 percent of the country’s coastal gross domestic product(GDP)could be affected, and 94.1 percent of the coastal urban areas are expected to be affected. No other country in the report, besides The Bahamas, is listed more than once in the top tier of the list.

The most worrisome part of the UN report reveals the impact sea level rise could have on the tourism sector. The report reveals that as many as 77 to 93 hotels could be affected by beach erosion.

And the report calculates that by 2050 The Bahamas’tourism industry could incur losses between$869 million and$946 million by 2050 and between$2.2 billion and$2.6 billion by 2080.

President of the Bahamas Hotel Association Robert Sands issued a release on the UN’s results, contending the information should not be viewed alarmingly, but be recognized as a chance to make changes to policy and to increase social awareness that would lead to mitigation efforts.

“Some developments in recent years have been designed to intentionally consider the possibility of higher sea levels in the coming decades,”his release said.

“While this type of information bears consideration, it should not be cause for panic, rather it should serve as a reminder of the need for personal, corporate and government diligence in how we preserve, protect and enhance our environment, and efforts to do such should be accelerated regardless of any threat of dramatically rising sea levels 40 years from now.”

Deveaux said The Bahamas has to make decisions on what kinds of strategies it would put into effect in order to sustain the country, if the scientific models of sea level rise hold true in the next 50 years.

According to him, decisions have to be made about whether the country would build defenses against storm surge on its coastlines, initiate relocation plans or prohibit construction near coastal areas.

He contended this matter receives serious consideration by government.

“As we speak Mr. Weech(director of the Bahamas Environmental, Science and Technology Commission)is in Mexico now at the climate change meeting where they are talking about the funding mechanisms,”said Deveaux.

“We get broad funding from the developing nations and then we submit proposals on projects for specific nations. And so in our case we look for technical support.

“At home our agenda is to do what we could nationally in how we plan and how we educate, and our regional and national agenda is to ensure we’re not shared out(of available funding)based on our per capita development.”

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