NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his Contribution to the Carbon Trading Bill 2022, in the House of Assembly, on July 14, 2022, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said that it was “a monumental day for the people of The Bahamas”.
“We are making history and positioning our country as the first country that will sell Blue Carbon Credits, as it relates to sea grass, on the Carbon Market,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“These ocean-based credits will allow the government to tap into a completely new source of revenue that will undoubtedly benefit the Bahamian people as the funds will assist which the financial challenges we face as a result of climate change,” he added. “The world will now mark the manner of our bearing as we embrace the mantle of global leadership with this transformative initiative.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that in his Government’s “Blueprint for Change”, it made a commitment to better manage and leverage the nation’s natural resources for the benefit of the Bahamian people.
“One of the key pledges we made was to secure Carbon Credit payments for our natural resources in recognition of the fact that we, along with our Caribbean neighbours, are a major carbon sink for the world,” he said. “It only follows that we should benefit from our role in cleaning the Earth’s atmosphere and absorbing the greenhouse gases being produced by global superpowers.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that marine ecosystems, such as seagrass beds, mangroves and salt ponds, were capable of storing more carbon per square mile than their terrestrial counterparts (trees). The 1,600 square miles of mangroves and other marine ecosystems in The Bahamas were “perhaps our most valuable resource”, he added.
“In analyzing their role as carbon sinks, we are still in the process of determining what their monetary value is; but early indications suggest that they may be quite valuable,” Prime Minister Davis said. “Ironically, the very systems that protect us from climate change are also being threatened by climate change as more frequent hurricanes and storms increase the likelihood that damage will be done to our coastal ecosystems,” he added. “Our first use of any revenues generated from Carbon Credits would be to ensure the survival of these vital systems so that they continue to protect future generations of Bahamians.”
Prime Minister Davis said that he wanted the Bahamian people to understand that it is a “novel undertaking”.
“Carbon Credits themselves are a relatively new concept for the world – with 2021 being a year of increased interest and growth for carbon markets,” he said. “This is something that most of the world has just started paying major attention to in the past year.”
He noted that, if Carbon Credits were considered “fairly new” then the notion of Blue Carbon Credits was “brand new”.
“The Bahamas will be the first country to put all the pieces together in terms of getting our marine resources valued as carbon sinks and monetizing that value in the carbon markets. No other country can lay claim to that feat,” he said.
“Our greatness is on display for the world.”
Prime Minister Davis said that he also wanted the Bahamian people to be aware of how exciting the development was. “We are talking about a high-growth global market that is still in its infancy but is projected globally to be worth possibly a few hundred billion by 2050,” he pointed out. “The Bahamian government had a duty to ensure that it does not miss out on this opportunity for revenue generation and that we claim our piece of the pie.
“In fact, we ensured that we got in early to maximize our revenue- earning potential – we will be first in line when it comes to Blue Carbon Credits.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that in January of that year, the Cabinet first established a Committee to propose a legal and regulatory framework to manage Carbon Credits, as well as explore the viability of monetizing Carbon Credits within The Bahamas.
The Committee, he said, was headed by the Attorney General and included the Minister of Works, Minister of the Environment, Minister of Economic Affairs, the Financial Secretary and a technical team from the Office of The Prime Minister.
“This Committee, through the Office of the Attorney General, produced the Climate Change and Carbon Markets Initiative Bill, which was debated in late April and is now in force,” he said.
He added: “That Act essentially did three things: it ensured we lived up to our obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remained compliant with our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC); it ensured that we adhered to our commitments under the Paris Agreement; and it established the market framework to trade Carbon Credits.
Prime Minister Davis said that, most importantly, the Act allowed for The Bahamas to trade Carbon Credits through the following: multi-lateral or bi-lateral trading agreements; trading with a private entity; or trading in the voluntary market.
He noted that the Cabinet Committee, through the Office of the Attorney General, had produced The Carbon Trading Bill, which built on the foundation of the Climate Change and Carbon Markets Initiative Act and proposed a complete legislative framework to regulate and manage the trade of carbon credits.
“I am extremely proud of the quick pace at which we have advanced our legislation to put us at the forefront of the emerging market of carbon credits and I want to personally thank the Attorney General and his team at the Office of the Attorney General, as well as the Ministers of Works, Economic Affairs, and Environment, as well as the Financial Secretary and other committee members who worked hard to bring us to this point,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“The world is watching and marveling at our ability to innovate and be at the cutting edge as we lead the way in establishing a framework for Blue Carbon.”