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Prime Minister Ingraham Attends High Level Meeting on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Rt. Hon Hubert A. Ingraham

NASSAU, Bahamas - Prime Minister the Rt Hon Hubert Ingraham left the country Monday, December 14, to present The Bahamas' position on climate change and related matters at the United Nations' 15th Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. He will join fellow leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Commonwealth who met recently in Trinidad and Tobago to forge a consensus on one of the more "complex and pressing issues" he has dealt with during his three non-consecutive terms in office.

At a press conference on Monday at the VIP Lounge of the Lynden Pindling International Airport, Prime Minister Ingraham underscored the importance of The Bahamas having a voice at such an historic conference.

 

“The Bahamas heads to Copenhagen with an enviable and clear environmental record and determined environmental leadership by your Government and various domestic environmental organisations. We will state our case from a position of strength, both ethically and because of our considerable record and long-term vision,” he said.

 

The Prime Minister said that while matters of national security, including crime and immigration, and a vigorous response to the current economic crisis are at the forefront of the national agenda, the Government also has the urgent task of responding to the multiple challenges, short and long-term, posed by global warming and its related effects on The Bahamas.

 

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Minister of the Environment the Hon Earl Deveaux, and other Government officials. They return, Tuesday, December 22.

 

Leaders have gathered in Copenhagen to face what is being termed as the greatest threat to humankind – global climate change with its consequent warming of the planet’s atmosphere, which represents a threat to the human family potentially more terrible than wars, economic crises, epidemics and natural disasters.

Their aim is to press for a “comprehensive, substantial and operationally binding agreement”, leading towards a fully legally binding outcome no later than 2010 to reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases.

 

Such an agreement should also provide for the “legitimate development aspirations of developing countries” as the world’s leaders also negotiate the financing and other mechanisms needed by developing countries to engage in reducing their emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change, the Prime Minister said.

 

The greatest threat to The Bahamas is rising sea levels. The Bahamas is the fifth most

vulnerable state in this region to climate change. A rise of more than 1.5 feet of sea level

will put under water 80 per cent of the landmass of The Bahamas.

 

“It is very important for The Bahamas to have a voice and it is very important for The

Bahamas to make a case that in distribution of the funding that the developed world is

going to make available for mitigation and adaptation, that undue account should not

be taken of the per capita income of The Bahamas,” the Prime Minister said.

 

“That our special circumstance and our special vulnerability ought to put us

in a position to be able to compete on an even keel with others for funding, to shore up

our sea defences and to do something about the emissions of the Bunker C power stations

that we have in The Bahamas, and to put in place appropriate rules about building too

near the coasts and a whole host of things.”

 

The European Union has committed $10 billion a year grant for funding of mitigation and

adapting by Small Island States and most vulnerable states, the United States has

indicated a substantial amount and both China and the US have indicated to reduce

emissions by certain per centum.

 

The Prime Minister noted that over the course of his administrations, he determined to

demonstrate clear and consistent leadership on one of the greatest issues – what the Port

of Spain Climate Change Consensus calls the “predominant global challenge”.

 

“Because we share a single vulnerable planet, that leadership must not only be local or

here at home. It must also be regional and global. This is why I have joined with my

fellow CARICOM and Commonwealth Heads of Government to help forge a consensus

on effective response to climate change, including vigorous mitigation strategies for more

vulnerable states such as ours,” he said.

 

The Prime Minister addressed the High Level Meeting on 16 December 2009. 

A copy of his statement may be downloaded here.