UN chief expressed international solidarity with the Government and people of the Bahamas.
World leaders attending the upcoming UN Climate Action Summit are being urged to show up armed not with speeches but with plans to achieve carbon neutrality, reduce emissions and improve adaptation.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued the charge on Friday during a visit to The Bahamas, which continues to reel from the onslaught of Hurricane Dorian. UN agencies are on the ground to support relief efforts in the affected islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
Speaking to journalists in the capital, Nassau, the UN chief expressed international solidarity with the Government and people of the island nation.
“In some areas, more than three-quarters of all buildings have been destroyed, hospitals in ruins or overwhelmed, schools turned into rubble. Thousands of people will continue to need help with food, water and shelter, and many more facing the uncertainties of the future after having lost everything,” he said.
Guterres noted that the climate crisis has generated “turbocharged” hurricanes and storms, which are occurring with greater intensity and frequency. And without urgent action, climate disruption will only get worse, packing what he described as “a triple punch of injustice.”
“First, the worst impact is on countries with the lowest greenhouse emissions; The Bahamas are a very good example of that. Second, it is the poorest and most vulnerable people in those countries who suffer most, and again, the same has happened with the communities in The Bahamas. And third, repeated storms trap countries in a cycle of disaster and debt.”
While the financial cost of Hurricane Dorian has not yet been determined, Guterres estimated it will be in the billions of dollars.
“The Bahamas cannot be expected to foot this bill alone. These new large-scale climate-related disasters require a multilateral response. Climate financing is one element,” he said. “We must reach a target of one billion per year from public and private sources for mitigation and adaptation in the developing world, as rich countries have been promising for nearly a decade. And we must improve access to development financing. In cases like the Bahamas, I strongly support proposals to convert debt into investment in resilience.”
Above all, Guterres called for greater global action. “The entire international community must address the climate crisis through rising ambition and action to implement the Paris Agreement.”
“The best available science, as reported by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, says we must ensure collectively that global temperature rise does not go beyond 1.5 degrees. And it says we have a window of less than 11 years to avoid irreversible climate disruption and that we must reduce emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” he continued.
“And this is why I am asking all leaders to come to the climate summit with plans, not speeches, in New York in one week’s time.”
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Wednesday lamented the "generational devastation" wrought by Hurricane Dorian, as it was upgraded to a major Category 3 storm while bearing down on the Carolinas on the US east coast.
The storm-surge watches warn residents of possible flooding from rising waters and coastal inundations in the city, known worldwide for its Mardi Gras and jazz.
The storm's top sustained winds decreased slightly to 170 mph (275 kph) as its westward movement slowed, crawling along Grand Bahama island early Monday at 2 mph (4 kph) in what forecasters said would be a daylong assault.
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