“TAKE HEED”: Environmentalists argue permanent ban on oil drilling “absolute necessity” for The Bahamas

“TAKE HEED”: Environmentalists argue permanent ban on oil drilling “absolute necessity” for The Bahamas

Our Islands, Our Future advises govt not to “flirt with an enemy of humanity” by leaving the door open for renewed oil drilling

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A coalition of environmental organizations and businesses has renewed its call for a nationwide permanent ban on oil drilling in The Bahamas, calling it an “absolute necessity” in the wake of a United Nations report on climate change.

Crew members of the Greenpeace flagship vessel Rainbow Warrior protest oil drilling in The Bahamas in November 2020.

Our Islands, Our Future, in a statement sent to officials in government including Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, cited dire warnings in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report, which was partially released on August 9.

The coalition directly tied the future well-being of The Bahamas to decisions the country makes regarding carbon emissions and especially oil drilling.

It indicated that any available paths to limit climate change do not include the development of new oil and gas fields such as those proposed by Challenger Energy Group, formerly known as Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) — the oil exploration company that earlier this year failed to locate commercial quantities of oil in Bahamian waters.

Casuarina McKinney-Lambert.

Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, of the Bahamas Reef Environmental Educational Foundation (BREEF), a coalition member, said: “There is no carbon maths or twisted logic that can rescue The Bahamas from essentially sealing its own fate if it allows oil drilling in its waters.

“As a low-lying island archipelago, we know that we are on the frontline of the climate emergency and that the rapid change that we are now experiencing, if left unchecked, will permanently alter our shores, making large areas uninhabitable and having devastating impacts on the pristine waters and sea life on which we all depend as a nation.”

The IPCC working group one report, “The Physical Science Basis”, which focused on an assessment of increasing impacts, detailed how severe climate change is already impacting every region of the globe.

Reports from working groups two and three are expected early next year and will bring additional focus on societal actions to prevent rapid changes in atmospheric carbon, and climate adaptation strategies.

The location of the Perseverance #1 exploration well drilled earlier this year.

However, the environmentalist coalition argued that the overarching conclusion is already clear: society must reduce emissions drastically in the next decade to avoid catastrophic impacts by the end of the century.

The Our Islands, Our Future statement noted: “The government should heed the clear warnings of the IPCC and permanently ban oil drilling.”

It added: “We would have enough reasons to oppose oil drilling based on risks to our economy, our tourism and fishing industries and our immediate safety. We could ban all drilling on the basis of a catastrophic oil spill risk; the inevitable disruption to the seafloor, nearby marine protected areas and fishing grounds; or risks to our tourism-based economy, but the climate crisis may trump them all.”

The coalition warned that the government is potentially “flirting with an enemy of humanity” by leaving the door open for renewed oil drilling.

“This is the time to act. Our survival depends on it,” said the coalition.