Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis pointed out, during his National Statement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP 28), on December 2, 2023, that “thankfully, mercifully,” the record-high temperatures experienced earlier in 2023 in The Bahamas, did not translate into a catastrophic hurricane season in The Bahamas
“We were lucky; but tropical storms and depressions did hit us,” Prime Minister Davis said, during the event held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. “They caused high levels of rain, extreme winds, widespread flooding, interrupted our power supply and resulted in significant costs and lost revenue.”
“Over the coming six months, before the next ‘Hurricane Season’ begins, we can use the time to strengthen our National Youth Guard,” he added. “We can build more homes out of the ground-breaking, carbon-negative, ocean-resistant concrete pioneered by a Bahamian company, Partanna, headed by entrepreneur Rick Fox.
“We can also raise more finance using our Blue Carbon Credits, backed by our extensive underwater fields of seagrasses, which absorb more carbon than the Amazon Rainforest.”
Prime Minister Davis stated that The Bahamas welcomes the pledges made in the past two days at this COP, to the ‘Loss and Damage Fund.’
“Surely this puts beyond doubt and debate, that the principle has now been settled: ‘the polluter pays’,” he said.
Prime Minister Davis added: “But it has taken 30 years to agree that there should be a fund for ‘Loss and Damage.’ And in 13 years we have not yet hit the original pledge goal of $100 billion per year. How long must we now wait to have this new fund capitalized? And how long must we wait before we can access the funds?
“Time is a luxury we do not have.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that The Bahamas is left wondering how it should interpret the pledges of the COP.
He said: “So little pledged, given what is needed. So late in the day, given what is forecast.
Is the effort here more to reduce the ‘noise pollution’ generated by our advocacy, rather than to address the ‘carbon reduction’ and ‘climate financing’ so urgently needed?
“Are we expected to remain quietly grateful?”
Prime Minister Davis added: “Frankly, we do not understand why everyone does not share our sense of urgency. Doing what is needed to help us, also helps you. Will you not act urgently to save yourselves?”
He pointed out that His Holiness, Pope Francis, recently exhorted world leaders, to “demonstrate the nobility of politics and not its shame.”
However, Prime Minister Davis added, “our truths remain inconvenient and, to my mind, shameful.”
“We still live in a world where financing always seems immediately available for the bullets and the bombs, he said. “This is a choice.”
“We still live in a world where narrow economic interests continue to drive an increase in the burning of fossil fuels,” Prime Minister Davis added. “This is also a choice.”
Prime Minister Davis stated that The Bahamas had no choice.
“Our plight is not seen in the images of women and children bleeding in the streets,” he noted. “Our plight is mostly invisible: the slowly-warming seawater, slowly rising up through our porous limestone islands.”
He added that it is also seen in the slowly dying coral, no longer able to support the slowly-dying fish.
Prime Minister Davis pointed out: “By the time our plight is made visible for all to see, our luck will have run out. It will be too late. The storm will have passed.”
“We can only pray that there is something left to see,” he added.
“Friends: we simply want to live.”