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‘We are out of time’

PM urges leaders to act to save planet

In a strong and urgent plea for action, Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis yesterday called on world leaders gathered at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, to find the courage to act in the fight against climate change, warning that more people in The Bahamas could die to monster hurricanes and many other nations would face increasing threats.

“We in The Bahamas will do what we can, but the limits of what our nation’s effort can accomplish are stark,” said Davis in a speech that lasted under five minutes.

“We cannot outrun your carbon emissions. We cannot outrun the hurricanes which are growing more powerful.

“We cannot outrun rising sea levels, as our islands disappear beneath the seas.

“Hurricane Dorian, that monster Category 5 hurricane which devastated two of our main islands, feels like it descended upon us just yesterday.

“We still don’t know exactly how many died and some people still tremble at the first drop of rain.

“But every day, our yesterday is already becoming your todays and fast becoming all of our tomorrows. But today, today, we can still do something.

“As I said to the General Assembly of the United Nations in September: You will only be safe when we are all safe.”

Hurricane Dorian swept over portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama in 2019, causing billions of dollars in damage. Its winds reached 185 miles per hour, its sea surges rose to 28 feet and tornadic activity was reported on both islands.

Officially, the death toll was placed at 74. Another 22 listed as missing on Abaco were declared dead during a coroner’s inquest earlier this year. But officials have admitted that the number of dead and missing is greater.

There was a significant population of undocumented migrants in Abaco. Today, many storm victims remain displaced and traumatized.

PLEA

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, has attracted some of the world’s most powerful leaders and environmental activists, all in an effort to formulate plans to reduce global emissions and stave off further global disasters.

The goal of the conference, held annually since 1995, is for countries to “come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century”.

Countries will need to “accelerate the phase-out of coal; curtail deforestation; speed up the switch to electric vehicles; and encourage investment in renewables”.

Another goal is for developed countries to mobilize at least $100 billion in climate financing per year. 

In his speech yesterday, Davis warned that “we are out of time”.

The Bahamas, he said, is not the problem but “we are forced to pay the price”.

“Can we summon the courage and ingenuity and determination to succeed, where they did not?” he asked.

“Promises and agreements are easy. Action, specific and concrete policy changes, is a lot harder. Action requires courage.

“Every leader before us has postponed until tomorrow what needed to happen yesterday. And now tomorrow is here today and countries like mine are out of time.

“Your support by financing and technology transfer is needed urgently, so we can rebuild for resilience.

“Without change, if we are lucky, we will become refugees.

“Without change, if we are unlucky, then we will be left to the mercy of future Hurricane Dorians.

“More of my people will die. More will be left traumatized and homeless. People will be forced to flee, but flee to where?

“These are my neighbors, my family, my friends. My plea is both urgent and deeply personal. And I make it on behalf of all humanity.

“My friends, look outside. Our hurricanes are your fires and floods. Our hurricanes are your landslides and drought.

“Morally and ethically, it has to be beyond imagination and conscience, that we do so little until it becomes too late.

“Please, do what is needed, not what you can get away with.

“Turn promises to small island developing states into action. Don’t hide behind buzzwords and hazy assurances. Don’t let the failures of the past limit our ambition for the present.”

Davis, who was elected to office on September 16, 2021, has committed to introducing measures to encourage renewable energy industries in solar, wind, wave, and ocean thermal energy. 

The Davis administration has also committed to a minimum reliance on renewable energy by 30 percent by 2030.

But Davis has remained non-committal on the issue of oil drilling. Under the Minnis administration, Bahamas Petroleum Company, which has since been renamed Challenger Energy Group, drilled for oil in The Bahamas. It did not find commercially viable quantities, but wishes to drill further.

On the sidelines of COP26 on Monday, Davis, who years ago had represented BPC as an attorney, was asked if his government had made any decision on oil drilling. 

He responded, “Drilling in and of itself does not necessarily mean exploitation. If you drill and find, you could monetize the find without exploiting it. But for right now, what we are doing, what I am considering, is the replacement of the thought of drilling with monetizing our carbon credits.”

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018.

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