Statement from Minister Kenred Dorsett on Paris Agreement Entry into Force

I was present in the Conference Centre in Le Bourget with the delegation from The Bahamas led by Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie nearly a year ago to witness the historic adoption of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Today, this landmark Agreement which accelerates universal climate action comes into full legal effect.  This means for the first time, nations are bound to curb their carbon emissions with their agreement to limit global warming to well below 2˚Celsius acknowledging that some nations will experience the adverse effects of global climate change at an increase of 1.5 ˚Celsius.  Indeed, SIDS continue to advocate that we need “1.5 to stay alive”.

Climate change is real and for those of us who live in Small Island Developing States like The Bahamas we are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  Scientists unanimously agree that without immediate intervention, the continuing temperature rise endangers human life, threatening a wipeout of populations as sea levels rises.  A recent study conducted by researchers at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) examined among other things, the correlation between intensity of Atlantic hurricanes and climate change.   The study concluded that climate change is causing hurricanes to become more intense and to have higher rainfall amounts.   This intensity was evidenced nearly a month ago when Hurricane Matthew hit The Bahamas leaving widespread devastation from winds and water surges that reached up to 15 feet in some areas.  Undoubtedly, we have a great stake in the global conversation about climate change, its effects, remediation, loss and damage and the course of action to address it.

Towards this end, the Government of The Bahamas submitted its climate action plan to the UNFCC in 2015 which underscores our environmental stewardship.   We have already taken concrete steps to move forward and build our national capacity to combating climate change.  We have passed legislation, advanced policies and programmes to ensure that this country does its part to reduce its emissions, though we are low emitters of carbon, on the global scale.  In addition, we have reduced and/or eliminated tariffs on solar systems including panel inverters and LED components and energy efficient appliances.  We have joined a number of international organizations that are focused on increasing the use of renewable energy such as the International Renewable Energy Agency for which I serve as the Chair and the Carbon War Room.

This Government has also formulated the Bahamas National Energy Policy which serves as a road map to a secure energy future by the year 2033.   The Residential Energy Self Generation Programme (RESG) and Renewable Energy plans are now being reviewed by Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) for execution and implementation.  We are hopeful that URCA will advance this programme with some urgency.

Further, recognising that we have to act now, the first-of-its-kind Youth Environmental Corps was established last month.  The Corps not only trains young Bahamians in the conservation of our natural resources but the Corps promotes individual environmental responsibility.  Our apprentices are made aware of what is causing climate change and what they can do now to alter the course of climate pollution and how important this is for their future and the future of our planet.

The Paris Agreement hence unifies the global community in its fight to stop global warming, marking a turning point in history.

It is now up to the nations of the world to follow through on commitments made in this Accord.   My ministry played an integral role in The Bahamas ratifying the Agreement on August 22 of this year and the Government of the Bahamas is steadfast in its commitment to taking definitive action to save the planet.  Currently, The Bahamas negotiators, led by Minister Mitchell are in Marrakesh, developing rules and modalities for successful implementation of the Paris Agreement.

My ministry is proud to be at the forefront of this historic step forward that will positively improve the lives of generations of Bahamians.

The Paris Agreement gives us a means to hold larger developing and developed countries, who are the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gas, accountable.

This begins a new era of action and results.

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