CLIMATE change is exacerbating the Bahamas’ challenges with food security, water scarcity and energy security, the Prime Minister said yesterday, over an issue that threatens this nation’s land mass.
Following his address as, chairman of CARICOM, during a summit on climate change in Martinique at the weekend, Mr Christie told Parliament that with 80 per cent of the Bahamas’ land mass within one metre of sea level, climate change was a growing threat.
“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,” said Mr Christie.
“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.”
Mr Christie added that the Caribbean 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,” he said.
“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,” Mr Christie added.
“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.
“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,” he continued.
“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 per cent 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 (MW) of utility scale solar power throughout our archipelago of islands.”
Mr Christie said the Government has launched a net billing programme for residential and commercial customers, which if maximised will allow an additional 25 MW of solar and/or wind to be connected to the grids.