By Kenton X. Chance
WARSAW, Poland — Weather events like Typoon Haiyan, which killed thousands and left millions in damage in the Philippines, “remind us of our need to live in harmony with the physical universe,” Kenred Dorsett, Minister of the Environment and Housing in Bahamas has told the world climate change summit on Thursday.
“They reaffirm that we must continue to press for all nations, developing and developed to meet their commitments under this convention and their initial commitments under the Kyoto protocol.
“This is not a time for backsliding, but a time for ramping up and enhancing commitment to tackle climate change and increase funding to deal with climate change related events,” he said at a point in the talks when some parties were expressing concern about the lack of ambition by Parties to combat climate change.
We are a small archipelagic nation of 350,000 people. The need to replicate and repair critical infrastructure throughout our islands, is paramount to my nation’s ability to adapt to climate change,” Dorsett pointed out.
“We must operationalise and capitalise the green climate fund now! More importantly, vulnerable states like the Bahamas must be given access to such funding mechanisms.
“Per capita income cannot be the primary criteria for eligibility for funding, as it does not reflect the real economic and fiscal challenges of developing countries. The Bahamas needs your help!” he said.
A number of blocs comprising developing countries at the talks had complained about the failure of the developed world to provide funding for the loss and damage that poor nations suffer as a consequence of more extreme weather events.
We are not fully able to adapt to or mitigate the loss and damages associated with climate change induced processes,” Dorsett, however, pointed out.
“We are losing territory, livelihood and lives, and we call upon this COP, to make a decision to implement an adequate mechanism to address loss and damage.”
He said that his country is attempting to manage economic development in a way that is compatible with nature, and has taken certain legislative measures, including amending its forest laws to provide a legal framework for the long term conservation and sustainable management of forests and limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases through tax measures which enable hybrid and electric vehicles to be imported at a lower tariff.
Further, the Bahamas has focused on promoting renewable energy use within the country.
All tariffs on inverters for solar panels, panels and led appliances and bulbs have been eliminated to make them more accessible to the average Bahamian, he said.
He added that his government is facilitating climate action in the housing sector by pursuing the development of green subdivisions which will be solar powered.
“Mr. President, we need adequate and predictable sources of funding to make these projects a reality,” he further stated.
Dorset said that the Bahamas has a new energy strategy that focuses on the awareness of energy conservation. By 2030, 30 per cent of the country’s energy will be produced by renewable energy sources by 2030, and in 2014, the government will introduce a framework for 10 per cent of the existing generating capacity to come from solar residential energy self generation.
“Through our energy sector reforms-our goal is to reduce the cost of electricity and our reliance on fossil fuels by using cleaner fuels like natural gas,” he said.
“Mr. President, climate change continues to impact the Bahamas in a real and present way. Just hours ago, the coastlines of the Bahamas were bombarded by heavy sea swells, caused by tropical storm Melissa. Again, there has been significant loss and damage to our coastal infrastructure.
“As the eventuality of sea level rise looms, our low lying coastal marine system and ground water would be so greatly impacted that we could loose all our farms and the food that we are able to produce.
“Mr. president, the Bahamas is ready to work. We have increased our political will to address climate change and to promote sustainable development, as we will not accept a world where climate change induced events like Haiyan and Sandy are the norm.
“We will not accept a world of climate migrants. The time is now! The Bahamas would like to leave Warsaw with concrete decisions being made to advance our climate change adaptation efforts. It is time to do more, and it is time to do it faster than we have ever done before,” Dorsett said.
The summit as slated to end on Friday but was stull underway at noon local time Saturday.