PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis. (File photo)
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis wants multilateral organisations to forgive those debts of small countries that are related to climate change.
He told The Tribune yesterday he plans to position the country as a leader in encouraging debt forgiveness for small, developing countries that are most susceptible to effects of climate change and said he will raise the issue at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt later this year.
Mr Davis, while discussing the issue recently at the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum in Miami, said trying to recover from natural disasters has added $5bn to the national debt in the past five years.
“I don’t know that much attention has been paid to the small island developing states in the world,” he said.
“Our headroom to be able to do the things that’s necessary for adaptation and mitigation cost money and we look at our GDP to debt ratio and we recognise that our country in particular, and no doubt throughout the Caribbean, 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 caused 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 not clear which agencies the government will push to provide debt forgiveness.
When contacted by this newspaper yesterday to elaborate on his comments at last week’s forum, Mr Davis said serious debt forgiveness must be given consideration.
“I believe The Bahamas must petition countries and financial institutions to now give a much more thorough consideration to debt forgiveness based on the fact that we are being affected by climate change,” Mr Davis told The Tribune yesterday in a brief interview. “When you add Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Dorian, the consequences they have on our economy and the shocks they cause our economy are disrupting our growth, there has to be a more circumspect approach to how we deal with financing and debt because climate change is no fault of our own and we play a significant role as carbon sinkholes for global polluters.”