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Top global emitters must ‘pay for their sins,’ says CARICOM chairman

In the story, CARICOM Chairman Philip Davis is calling for the global emitters who are responsible for the climate crisis to take responsibility and "pay for their sins." Davis encouraged countries in the Caribbean to switch from fossil fuel to alternative energy. He also discussed other global efforts taken to ensure that other industrialized nations take responsibility for their carbon emissions.

The Caribbean is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world and with limited resources, the region is unable to effectively fight climate change, according to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairman Philip Davis, who called for countries responsible for the climate crisis to be held accountable.

“We being least among the emitters, we need to hold responsible the major industrialized countries that emit the greenhouse gases into the air and they ought to pay for their sins,” Davis said.

Although an agreement was made during COP27 for a loss and damage fund for vulnerable countries hard-hit by climate disasters, follow-up is needed.


“So, the next effort on our part is to see what we can do to ensure that those who commit to funding that fund do so,” Davis, who is also prime minister of The Bahamas, said. His comments came during a recent interview with Climate Tracker where he expressed concerns over the challenges the region faces in the climate fight as it seeks to minimize its carbon footprint. 

Another global effort that has been taken to ensure that industrialized countries are held accountable for their carbon emissions is the signing of a petition for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on climate change.

A number of countries have signed this petition that would provide an authoritative and coherent statement on the international legal obligations of countries to respond effectively to climate change.

The CARICOM chairman explained that the advisory opinion would determine how the Caribbean could move to having some “legal teeth” to its efforts to enforce claims that the region may have as a result of the climate disasters that wreak havoc on many of its countries.

“Hopefully, we are seeking an opinion that might pave the way to take out action against the major industrialized countries and companies that emit more than any other country with gases,” the CARICOM chairman added. While trying to make the industrialized countries accountable for their actions, the Caribbean is also faced with the challenge of minimizing its carbon footprint.  

According to Davis, alternative energy is a measure Caribbean countries can implement to minimize the region’s carbon footprint, but it’s costly.


“I’m encouraging my colleagues to move to see how they can switch from fossil fuel to alternative energy and natural energy,” Davis said. “Of course, the challenge for that with us in the region is that would be an expensive exercise and the limited resources we have recognizing that we are continually under the existential threat of hurricanes and other climate disasters.” These climate catastrophes result in losses and damages for the region. In The Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian resulted in $3.4 billion in loss and damage.

“If anyone were to profile the debt of most of our countries in our region, you would find a significant percentage of our debt that we have to repay is directly linked to the costs associated with recovery after a catastrophic hurricane,” Davis explained.

He added that “building defenses to the damage of climate change” is an expensive exercise because there are limited resources in the region that leaders have at their disposal to balance and take care of the basic needs of their people.

As the global fight for climate justice continues, concerns are growing as to whether the global warming temperature will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius or not. However, scientists are predicting that the El Niño weather event will return this year causing the temperature to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius and cause extreme heat.



According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the world is dangerously close to surpassing the global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees, the level that keeps everyone safe. UNDP added that the last decade was the hottest on record, land and ocean temperatures are rising, polar ice and mountains are melting and the weather is becoming more unpredictable and deadly.

However, Davis said the 1.5 degrees target is challenging, but CARICOM isn’t giving up on it as a number of the industrialized countries are stepping back from their commitments to alternative energy.  “Germany for example has returned to coal, the use of coal,” he added. “So again, there’s a challenge in reaching the goal of 1.5 degrees, and what do we do?

“We are the most vulnerable countries. The Caribbean region is one of the most vulnerable regions, is the most vulnerable region in the world.

“The Bahamas is particularly vulnerable because we are spread out 100,000 square miles. More than 80 percent of our land mass is less than three meters above sea level.

“We need to continue this fight because if nothing changes, we are doomed to a watery grave or to be climate refugees.”  



This story was originally published by the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator, with the support of the Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship, which is a joint venture between Climate Tracker and Open Society Foundations.


Picture of Deandre Williamson

Deandre Williamson

An award-winning journalist from Nassau, Bahamas, Deandre Williamson is passionate about her career. This “watchdog” journalist has journalism in her DNA as she’s always striving for excellence in her reporting. Deandre participated in the 2021 United Nations Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship and the 2019-2020 Poynter-Koch Media & Journalism Fellowship.

This multimedia journalist serves the converged newsroom of Jones Communications Network primarily as an editor and reporter for The Bahama Journal newspaper. She also works remotely from The Bahamas as a part-time opportunities editor for the International Journalists’ Network (IJNet).

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