PM urges action on climate financing

‘We are in danger of becoming uninsurable’

Caribbean leaders meeting in The Bahamas at a two-day climate change summit are seeking to construct a practical approach to improve access to climate financing ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt in November.

“If we can do the heavy lifting here, our chances of success are greatly improved,” Prime Minister Philip Davis told delegates during the conference opening at Baha Mar resort yesterday.

“We are more likely to avoid the mistakes of the past.”

The event is taking place nearly three years after Hurricane Dorian tore a destructive path across the Abacos and Grand Bahama where many residents are still trying to rebuild their lives.

“The physical, psychological, social, and economic damage are still very much with us,” Davis noted.

He advocated that small island development states (SIDS) collectively advance their interests, adding that if they do so individually “our voices will be dispersed, unable to be heard above louder, wealthier, carbon-producing interests”.

Noting that the Caribbean has been identified as the region with the largest number of indebted countries, Davis added that in many cases a major contributor to debt is borrowing associated with recovery efforts from the impact of climate change.

In The Bahamas, it has been determined that more than 50 percent of outstanding debt can be linked to the impacts of hurricanes in 2015 and 2019.

“Our countries are struggling with debts accumulated by climate disasters,” Davis said.

“What does this mean for the development of our nations, when our risk profile is becoming so severe that insurers question their willingness to offer risk facilities to offset climate disasters?

“Put simply, we are in danger of becoming uninsurable.”

He added, “Many, if not all, of us have already faced challenges in accessing climate-related funds.

“By acting in common cause, we can move with more authority and with greater impact to address legacy issues which have held us back from making meaningful progress.”

Davis encouraged regional colleagues to work together to construct a joint solution in respect of climate risk insurance and other climate risk facilities.

“And let us take practical steps to improve access to climate finance,” he said.

Front line

Davis pointed to a recent World Meteorological Organization report which indicated that sea levels rose more swiftly in the Caribbean region than anywhere else in the world last year.

“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.”

At the opening press conference yesterday, Davis also said it is time for large countries to stop talking and deliver on their multi-billion-dollar climate financing commitment. 

“A lot of commitments have been made by what I call the world’s largest emitters and the industrialized world, a number of commitments which have not been lived up to. There are a number of issues that are coming up that will distract us from the main questions that need to be answered going forward.”

Dr. Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs and COP27’s president designate, delivered virtual remarks during the opening ceremony.

He said it is “disheartening” seeing the tendency of countries returning to coal.

“It is especially perplexing to see the fiscal policy space diminishing for developing and least developed countries, while the symbolic $100 billion by 2020 climate finance commitment remains largely unrealized,” Shoukry said.

“Nevertheless, our belief and hope is that as critical as the timing of COP27 is, it will be the moment where the world will come together to unwaveringly reiterate, at the highest level, the political will and collective resolve of all countries and stakeholders to deliver on scale and on time to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis.”

Hurricane impacts, tourism losses and infrastructure damage from sea level rise could amount to $22 billion per year by 2050 and $46 billion per year by 2100, representing 10 percent and 22 percent of current regional gross domestic product, according to a 2018 report by Climate Analytics. 

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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