May 12, 2021
The University of The Bahamas (UB) Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Research Centre (CCARR) and the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) have produced a publication on the climate change challenges confronting The Bahamas and the anticipated effects on the archipelago.
The information brief entitled, “Climate Change & The Bahamas Information Brief” was published in March 2021. It gives a concise breakdown of the country’s current state of affairs, as well as projected climate change patterns and impacts on both The Bahamas’ physical and social environments.
“This information brief is an important step in supporting much needed climate action in The Bahamas,” said founding Director of the CCARR Centre Dr. Adelle Thomas. “The brief draws from the latest local and international scientific literature on climate change, but makes this information accessible and understandable to as large of an audience as possible. We produced the brief to share the many risks that climate change poses for all aspects of life in The Bahamas, and show that climate change is a challenge that we must proactively and holistically address.”
Dr. Thomas, along with CCARR Centre researcher Tatjana Nicolls and Cape Eleuthera Institute(CEI) Research Scientist Marjahn Finlayson, contributed to the new publication.
As a SIDS, The Bahamas is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and a staunch advocate for climate action. A wide range of climate change hazards—from increased frequency of major hurricanes to sea level rise to changes in rainfall and flooding—if left unchecked, threaten people, industries and the environment with potentially significant and permanent devastating impacts. The information brief contains some 45 references to scientific studies with high-quality, evidence-based support and guidance in holistically addressing climate change risks.
A subsidiary of the Cape Eleuthera Island School, CEI became involved in the project to help explain how physical science influences climate change on Earth, and how those changes affect the environment. It provided the opportunity to combine the physical and social impacts anthropogenic climate change will have on The Bahamas and, in turn, has led to a deeper explanation of how it will affect Bahamian society, public health, and the economy.
“In global climate science discourse, very little focus is on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) due to a lack of understanding from external climate change stakeholders of these nations and structural support for this work. Therefore, literature on extreme events and their connection to climate change in tropical regions are very limited,” said Ms. Finlayson. “There is a need to explain what anthropogenic climate change is and why it is such a big deal for The Bahamas. I am happy to work with CCARR on this brief and hope to continue to do more educational work for Bahamians.”
The information brief could not have come at a better time. Dr. Thomas noted that according to the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2020 was the second hottest year on record following 2016. Not surprisingly, 2020 was the most active hurricane year in the North Atlantic since 2005 with up to 30 named storms.
In November, the United Kingdom, specifically Glasgow, Scotland, will host to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). The conference is the first time that parties are expected to commit to enhanced ambition since COP21. And as outlined in the Paris Agreement, every five years, parties are required to execute a process colloquially known as the ‘ratchet mechanism, which seeks to hold 195 countries accountable for their climate goals over the next 30 years. The mechanism works by calling on member nations to ratchet up their climate contributions every five years.
“As the international community prepares for the United Nations climate change negotiations in November 2021, it is critical that we have our own conversations and action plans to address climate change here at home in The Bahamas,” said Dr. Thomas. “The brief shows the type of evidence-based education and outreach that the UB CCARR Centre is mandated to produce.
This is the start of further education and outreach activities aimed at increasing climate change awareness and action in The Bahamas.”
The CCARR Centre was established in 2019 in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, an unprecedented storm that further highlighted The Bahamas’ vulnerabilities and those of other SIDS to climate change. In that context, the CCARR Centre was founded as a resource for SIDS and coastal communities throughout the world seeking to address the impacts of climate change on societies and at-risk regions, and how members of those communities can best prepare for and respond to the many risks posed by this daunting reality.