The Bahamas must be paid for being a significant carbon sink of the world, says PM
Noting that he has pledge fatigue after continued disappointment from global forces and external shocks beyond The Bahamas’ control, Prime Minister Philip Davis said it’s time for the world to pay for the country’s role in being the garbage collectors when it comes to climate change.
The prime minister was speaking at the 2022 Concordia Americas Summit in a panel discussion with St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on the importance of regional cooperation in advancing investment and economic development.
Davis said he is hopeful that at this year’s COP27 (UN Climate Change Conference), world leaders will do less pledging and take more action to offset their carbon emissions.
“The Bahamas is an ocean state. We are among the ten most vulnerable countries the world to climate change. Our islands could disappear within the next 30 years and so the effort to reduce the carbon footprint is a crisis for us. What we have recognized is our small island states have nothing to do with the carbon emissions, but quite apart from not emitting, we are also one of the major and significant carbon sinks of the world. And so, we have been collecting the garbage out of the air because of our seagrass and mangroves, but we are not being paid for it,” he said.
“So, we are now engaging the voluntary markets and we’re going to tie that to the crypto space as well, so that we can continue to innovate to see how we can have revenue sources. We will make the industrial world more accountable for their actions and we’ll be continuing along those lines. But it is for us to continue to stick together and stay together and let those that are responsible for the consequences we are now suffering pay for it. I can say unequivocally that more than 50 percent of my national debt today is a direct result of the consequences of climate change.
“Adaptation and mitigation, we have to borrow to recover, borrow to bring back the country to normalcy. And all we have are pledges. I have pledge fatigue, and hopefully by COP27 we’ll see more action by the world.”
The government intends to launch the first carbon credit trading market in The Bahamas within the next few months, as it prepares to introduce the world’s first blue carbon credits by the end of 2022.
Researchers have estimated that The Bahamas’ carbon assets from sea grass could be the second largest in the world.
Davis has been on a climate change campaign during his first ten months in office, urging world leaders at various conclaves to provide more financial support to small island states like The Bahamas that do not contribute heavily to climate change, but are the most impacted by climate change events.
“We are often very disappointed by global forces and external shocks that are beyond our control. Globally our financial services sector was assaulted by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and other forces such as the FATF (Financial Action Task Force), and we survive by continuing to innovative, being creative and attempting to stay ahead of those forces,” he said.
“Hence, we for example recognized the space of crypto, recognized that it’s here to stay and that the 20 percent of GDP that I had lost because of the intervention of the industrialized world, that was the way to replace it. So I went after crypto in the financial space, and then I tied that into one of the other consequential issues that faces our small island development states, that is the consequences of climate change.”