EDITORIAL: Who will bear the cost of climate change?

HURRICANE Dorian was a monster. It bore down on Abaco and Grand Bahama and ripped the islands to pieces.

The cost of the lives lost in the storm is immeasurable, there is no price you can put on a life. The damage, however, carried a financial toll, one that The Bahamas had to bear, even though there was a helping hand from others in the aftermath.

Estimates vary but, according to the Inter-American Development Bank, Dorian caused about $3.4 billion in damage, about a quarter of our nation’s GDP.

Was Hurricane Dorian a one-off event? Or is it a symptom of a greater pattern?

A number of studies have suggested that hurricane trends are linked to climate change. Put simply, that means more often, deadlier.

Hurricanes themselves are fuelled by warmer water – global warming increases the temperature and has a knock-on effect on the size, frequency and range of such storms.

So, who should bear the financial costs of that? Nations such as ours? Our carbon footprint is minimal compared to the biggest countries producing the most carbon dioxide. The five biggest producers of CO2 are China, the United States, India, the Russian Federation and Japan. The CO2 produced around the world drives climate change – but the effects may fall on very different shores than those of the polluters, namely our own.

So who pays?

In the case of Hurricane Dorian, we are – but the suggestion from Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis is that there should be a measure of debt forgiveness for small countries affected by climate change.

He said: “Most of our debt is directly related to the consequences of climate change, hence I just mentioned that the loss of damage from hurricanes over the last five years has added at least $5 billion to our national debt, not to speak to the disruption that those incidents cause and not speaking to the recovery efforts and the loss of economic activity.

“I think it is important for all small island developing states to take a look at their debt portfolio and to speak to this aspect of it and to call on the major emitting countries to become more responsible and sensitive to this fact and the multi-laterals who feed in the climate funding relating to climate change ought to start thinking about grants and to start thinking about debt forgiveness in relation to matters that are the consequence of climate change.”

It is an interesting proposal. If we contrast it to another proposal, the exploration of reparations against former colonial states in relation to the slave trade and genocide of original inhabitants of islands, the complaint is often that this happened a long time ago. The issue of climate change and its effects are happening in real time, taking lives and destroying economies.

We must not venture into this with an expectation that nations and organisations will say yes right away – far from it, it will be a battle that may be unwinnable. But even the argument is enough to keep focusing the attention on an issue that has affected our nation yesterday, affects us today and threatens to do even worse in our tomorrows.


sheeprunner12 2 months ago

Brave wants money NOW .... The cookie jar is empty. They already squandered the VAT golden goose


Maximilianotto 2 months ago

It’s always good to ask others to pay. „In Caribbean „when the money is gone we all go home““


bahamianson 2 months ago

What a question? Who pays for everything now?I know, just ask the same people carrying the country to continue to pay tTheir Fare Share, again.


tribanon 2 months ago

The Editorial Staff at the penny pinching Tribune are clearly no longer that well educated.


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