Update on Regional Summit on Climate Change‏ by Prime Minister Christie

 

Nassau, Bahamas – House Communication update on Regional Climate Change Summit by The Prime Minister and Member for Centreville The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie MP:

MR. SPEAKER:

Last weekend, in my capacity as the present Chairman of the CARICOM Heads of Government, I had the honour to chair, and bring opening remarks at, a special Regional Summit on Climate Change held in Fort-de-France in the French Overseas Territory of Martinique.

We were especially pleased to play on this occasion host to the President of the Republic of France, Monsieur Francois Hollande, who will chair the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it convenes in Paris later in the year.

The Regional Summit last weekend focused attention on what is indisputably the greatest ecological challenge confronting low-lying states on the planet. It is likely to remain so throughout the 21st century and beyond. The stakes are indescribably high. Indeed nothing short of our very survival is at stake.

Because of the supreme importance of this matter to the future survival of The Bahamas as we know it, I consider it only fitting that I communicate to the Bahamian people in this forum of their elected representatives a slightly abridged version of my remarks at the Caricom-France Summit last weekend.  For this purpose, I will omit the ceremonial, non-substantive portions of my opening remarks.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I now proceed to set out the salient parts of my opening remarks at the Caricom-France Summit in Martinique on the 9th May:

“………Small island developing states have championed the phrase “1.5 to Stay Alive”! On the basis of scientific evidence many have called for a reduction in the level of greenhouse gases  so that mean global temperatures  will not to exceed 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The evidence of the impact of climate change in our region is evident.

Grenada saw a three hundred percent loss of GDP as a result of one storm!  We see on average across CARICOM a 2 to 5% loss of growth in the region due to the responses to hurricanes and tropical processes which occur annually.

For The Bahamas which has eighty percent of its land mass within one meter of mean sea level, climate change is an existential threat to our land mass.  Indeed that is the story across the region.

………Today’s gathering is a good idea.  We have met with (France’s) counterparts from the United States and China.  We found a strong commitment on their part to a successful outcome in Paris.  This meeting also deepens relations between France and the Caribbean.

The   Caribbean Community reiterates to (President Hollande) as the incoming President of COP 21, the urgent need to close the gap between the mitigation pledges by major emitters and the level of effort required to decrease the global average temperature.

Any Paris outcome must include the following essential elements:

·        clarity on ambitious targets for developed countries, including a long-term goal for significant emission reductions by these countries;

clarity on the  adaptation

measures and resources  required to  facilitate and enhance the sustainable development plans and programmes in small developing countries and thereby significantly reduce the level of poverty in our developing countries;

·   clarity on measures and

mechanisms to address the development challenges associated with climate change, sea level rise and loss and damage for small islands and low-lying coastal developing states;

·   clarity on how the financial and technological support both for mitigation and adaptation will be generated   and disbursed to small developing countries.

Further it must be recognised that the existing widespread practice of using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita as the primary basis for access to resources, simply does not address the reality of the vulnerability of our countries.

We take particular note of the agreements with the Green Climate Fund in line with meeting the pledge of securing US$100 billion per year by 2020.

In seeking to find ways to live up to the financial obligations, we stress however that the most vulnerable countries must not be penalized through tax systems which would further impact our services based economies. The particular references to taxing international maritime and air transport we find particularly troubling.

I invited the president to continue to give this climate change issue and the wider financial issues the highest priority and to lend his nation’s considerable international clout, and the personal prestige of his office and its clout to conclude a satisfactory and binding agreement in Paris in the fall.   History will not judge us kindly if we fail.

As a result of the impacts of climate change, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre which spearheads the technical work for CARICOM on this issue estimates the cost of global inaction in the sub-region to be approximately US$ 10.7 billion per year by 2025 and that this figure could double by 2050.

We, the Caribbean urged Parties that have made pledges towards the initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to enter into their contribution agreements with the GCF as soon as possible and scale up their contributions in line with the pledge for US$100 billion per year by 2020.

For the region, climate change magnifies the growing concerns regarding food security, water scarcity, energy security and the resource requirements for protection from natural disaster.

Another significant threat is linked to the projected impact of climate change on public health, through an increase in the presence of vectors of tropical diseases, such as malaria and dengue, and the prevalence of respiratory illnesses.

These diseases will affect the well-being and productivity of the workforce of the sub-region and compromise the economic growth, competitiveness and development potential of the Caribbean Community.

Heat Stress is also an issue. France can identify with as a result of the unprecedented heat wave which had an enormous adverse social, economic and environmental effect such as the death of thousands of vulnerable elderly people across Europe in 2003.

The region is not fully able to adapt to or mitigate the loss and damages associated with climate change induced processes.

Our situation is rendered especially urgent in the face of information that ocean acidification, sea surface temperatures and sea levels are already rising.  These processes particularly sea-level rise will therefore irreversibly change the geography and ecology of many coastal states and territories. It has been projected that responding to these factors can have particularly disastrous consequences causing a perpetual recession in each of the CARICOM Member States for a significant period as our infrastructure, built environment, settlements and economic well-being are concentrated in coastal areas prone to flooding and inundation.

The region’s challenge associated with the on-going Climate Change negotiations is that even if the goal to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2°(degrees Celius) is achieved, the Caribbean will experience severe adverse impacts for which stronger programmes of adaptation would have to be implemented.

We most strongly advance the view that in this current situation the global architecture on Climate Change needs to be re-designed to also facilitate and promote the development of developing countries. As a Region of small developing countries, regional policy makers have generally acknowledged the significant role of multilateralism.  On that basis the Region is prepared to work for and is optimistic that, at the Conference in Paris, the appropriate actions would be taken to establish a new framework for global cooperation on Climate Change.  At the very least, such a framework should address the basic requirements for the survival of the Small Island and Low-Lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS).

The ongoing collaboration between one of our Member States, Dominica, and France to advance a project in the area of geothermal energy can be replicated. The application of French technology to our natural assets could form the basis for growth of a renewable energy sector in the region. This would bolster our energy security, cut the high energy costs and assist in the global battle against greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bahamas does not have the benefit of geothermal capacity, but we have advanced a National Energy Policy that calls for a minimum of 30% of our energy generation comprising renewable energy by 2033. We have passed legislation this year making grid-tie connection for solar and wind legal. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Carbon War Room which will allow for 20 mega-watts of utility scale solar power throughout our archipelago of islands.

We have also launched a net billing programme for residential and commercial customers, which if maximized will allow an additional 25 mega –watts of solar and /or wind being connected to our grids. Storage technology for solar is critically important to us. The application of French technology in this area would benefit Caribbean countries like The Bahamas and Bermuda.

France can be a vibrant development partner to our Community. Such a development would   be most welcome, even more so if spurred by a sector that benefits the global family as much as it does our region.

It is my hope that this day (Saturday, 9th May 2015) will be the one that history will record as the new beginning of a strengthened relationship between France and the Caribbean.”

Such, then, Mr. Speaker, was my opening address at the Regional Summit I had the honour to chair in Martinique on the 9th May, 2015.

It remains only for me to conclude by once again emphasizing how absolutely critical this entire issue of climate change is for our archipelagic nation.  We are an exceptionally low-lying country.  This fact alone means that climate change and its ecological companion, sea-level rise, global warming – must necessarily be central to the present and future planning of whoever is going to be in government during the 21st century.

Let us therefore not underestimate the scale, the magnitude and the absolutely crucial importance of this subject as we attend to the governance and management of our country, its land and marine resources and, most important of all, its people, now and in the generations to come.

 

Source: http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/bis-news-updates/House_Communication_by_Rt_Hon_Perry_G_Christie_Update_on_Regional_Summit_on

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