PM calls on countries to address climate change

As he addressed the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis urged countries across the globe to acknowledge and address climate change.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, which laid waste to portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama as the strongest storm on record to ever make landfall in the region, Minnis expressed his strong support of UN Secretary General António Guterres’ strategy to address the “global emergency”.

“I add my urgent plea to the cries and voices of many other leaders and citizens of the global commons, urging the nations of the world here assembled, to treat the global climate emergency as the greatest challenge facing

humanity,” said Minnis.

“It is a challenge that, if not treated with the greatest urgency, will continue to ravage small island states such as The Bahamas, and will also have a devastating impact on more developed states.”

Minnis added, “It is a threat which we did not cause. It is a threat which we cannot survive on our own.”

As he spoke on behalf of small island developing states (SIDS), Minnis pleaded for global assistance in the financing of climate-related disasters, assuring that recipients of such aid would be capable of the fiscal responsibility required of them.

“The Bahamas fully supports the secretary general’s comprehensive strategy to address a global emergency which will eventually devastate the entire planet,” he said.

“This includes his plea to international financial institutions to provide concessionary financing to countries severely impacted by the external shocks occasioned by climate change.”

He added, “For many years, The Bahamas and countries with similar characteristics, have urged an alternative to per capita gross national income as the sole indicator of a country’s level of development and eligibility for concessionary financing.

“When we call for consideration of a country’s unique local circumstances when determining financial worthiness, this is also a condition and requirement for our resilience. The Bahamas is a testament to the ability of SIDS to manage debt, despite such external setbacks.”

Minnis added, “The small island countries in the Caribbean, in the Atlantic, in the Pacific, and in the Indian Ocean and around the world, are on the frontlines of being swallowed into an abyss, created initially by human activity and increasingly by inaction.

“Our vulnerabilities as states on the frontline are profound. Because of the geographic distribution of The Bahamas, extending from Cuba and parallel to Florida, any number of hurricane trajectories may result in dire and protracted implications for our inhabited islands.

“Our heating climate results in the increased severity and frequency of hurricanes for our archipelago, and also destroys our natural defenses against such storms. Coral and mangrove degradation, land erosion, increased tidal movements and the myriad other consequences of global warming, increase our vulnerability and handicap our ability to develop and to establish effective resilience measures.

“We cannot make meaningful progress toward or achieve sustainable development goals, if, as forecasters are predicting, that recent cyclonic and other extreme climate events are poised to become the new normal, and may worsen.

“When one storm can obliterate an island-state or a number of states in one hurricane season: how will we survive, how can we develop, how will we continue to exist?”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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