Pictured at yesterday’s conference are, from left, former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, former Prime Minister Perry Christie, Prime Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis, and former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
Photo: Austin Fernander
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis repeated his calls yesterday for Caribbean leaders to unite and take action in the fight against climate change.
Mr Davis noted that too many countries in the region were struggling with debt caused by climate related disasters.
He said now was the time for countries to come up with solutions because our very lives depended on it.
The Prime Minister further spoke about the financial impacts of the environmental threat, noting that most of The Bahamas’ debt could be linked to natural disasters like hurricanes and highlighted the need for regional nations to have greater access to climate funding.
He was addressing regional leaders during the opening ceremony of the Caribbean regional heads of government meeting at Baha Mar yesterday. The high-level talks end today.
“Our countries are struggling with debts accumulated by climate disasters,” Prime Minister Davis stressed to Caribbean leaders.
“What does this mean for the development of our nations, when our risk profile is becoming so severe that insurers question their willingness to offer risk facilities to offset climate disasters? Put simply, we are in danger of becoming uninsurable.
He added: “Many if not all of us have already faced challenges in accessing climate-related funds.
“By acting in common cause, we can move with more authority and with greater impact to address legacy issues, which have held us back from making meaningful progress.”
Mr Davis also pointed to “historic” steps taken by countries like the United States and Australia to address carbon emissions, which he said demonstrates that nothing is impossible, and called for all heads of states to come to the table to brainstorm ideas.
“Let us work together to construct a joint solution in respect of climate risk insurance and other climate risk facilities and let us take practical steps to improve access to climate finance,” the prime minister added.
“We are well aware that, going into COP27, work is underway to advance the implementation of a Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, along with the establishment of a Loss and Damage Facility.”
He continued: “These are important tools to support our countries. However, we also need to ensure that risk or insurance facilities are also in the toolbox of solutions to help our people. Access to climate finance should not be unclear or cumbersome.
“And the application of per capita overseas development assistance eligibility should not be taken as the main consideration for offering climate finance, which means that many Caribbean states would be frozen out from the start.”
He further urged leaders to work together to advance the use of a multi-dimensional vulnerability index to reflect the needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and also lobby donors and partners to ensure that all SIDS are eligible for access to bilateral climate financing.
The Caribbean Regional Heads of Government is a two-day summit being hosted by The Bahamas in preparation of COP27, which will be held in Egypt later this year.
More than a dozen heads of state are in the country for the climate change conference and key issues being discussed at the event include access to climate funding, disaster mitigation and strengthening resilience and recovery among other topics.
During a press conference ahead of yesterday’s opening ceremony, Mr Davis said the outcomes of the high-level discussions will be documented in a paper that will be presented to officials at COP27.
He also expressed optimism that talks from the conference will prove fruitful, noting that countries are tired of hearing unfulfilled promises related to climate change like the 2009 pledge made by wealthy countries to mobilise $100 billion annually to aid developing states with climate finance.
“We are commitment fatigued and we are pledged fatigued so the pledge to make available $100b has yet to be realised and that was made (nearly) 15 years ago and so the question now is the time for action is now. The time for talking needs to cease,” he also said.