By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas is among the top four nations forecast to be hit hardest by rising sea levels, a rating agency warned yesterday, with up to 15 percent of annual GDP and 11 percent of its people in peril.
Moodys, unveiling an assessment about the long-term threat to sovereign creditworthiness posed by climate change, drew on multiple studies to identify The Bahamas - as well as Vietnam, Egypt and Suriname - as the four countries most threatened by rising sea levels resulting from global warming.
Describing the outlook as a material credit risk, Moodys also voiced concern that The Bahamas efforts to combat sea level rise lack co-ordination among government institutions and are made more complicated because much coastal, low-lying land is in the hands of private owners such as major resorts.
Drawing on a World Bank study, the credit rating agency - which currently has The Bahamas barely maintaining investment grade status, one notch above so-called junk - said only Vietnam and Suriname faced more severe economic consequences in a worst-case sea level rise scenario.
The Moodys report, published as the Bahamas Business Outlook conference focused on resiliency in the face of climate change and natural disasters, disclosed projections that a one-metre sea level rise would submerge 11.6 percent of this nations total land mass.
This, in turn, would endanger 4.7 percent of annual economic output (Gross Domestic Product), given the tourism industrys reliance on coastal sites, and 4.6 percent of the Bahamian population. However, the impact is much more extensive should sea levels rise three metres, as this would swallow 31 percent - or almost one-third - of all land in The Bahamas.
And the threat to the economy would also be three times greater, with 14.5 percent of GDP in jeopardy, along with the lives of 10.5 percent of the Bahamian people.
Different studies yield similar results, Moodys warned. Countries including Vietnam, The Bahamas, Egypt, Suriname and some in the Gulf are highlighted, with up to ten percent to 25 percent of the population or GDP exposed.
The greatest inundation by proportion of land area would be in The Bahamas, followed by Vietnam and Qatar.... Taking a broader view of exposure by combining several indicators (GDP, population, land area, agricultural area, degree of urbanisation, wetlands), Vietnam, Egypt, Suriname and the Bahamas feature among the most exposed countries.
In a scenario where sea level rise reaches three metres, Vietnam and Suriname are also the most exposed countries by economic output, followed by Benin and The Bahamas. Other studies researched by Moodys show that 100 percent of The Bahamas would be vulnerable to flooding and/or be submerged should sea levels rise by five metres.
And Climate Centrals 2015 research estimated that two-thirds of the Bahamian population would be affected should a locked-in sea level rise occur under a scenario where global temperatures increased on average by 3 degrees Celsius.
If temperatures were to rise by three degrees Celsius (C), affected rated sovereigns would include Cayman Islands with 83 percent of the population submerged, Suriname (81 percent) and The Bahamas (67 percent), Moodys added.
If warming were limited to two degrees Celsius, the most affected sovereigns would be similar, but the share of population below sea level would reduce by 2-18 percentage points.
The Bahamas has already felt the brunt of climate change through Hurricane Dorian, which inflicted $3.4bn in losses and damage on Abaco and Grand Bahama, while also derailing the Governments fiscal consolidation plan for at least three years by driving this years projected deficit to $677.5m and the national debt to $9.5bn over the medium term.
Moodys reiterated that The Bahamas was especially vulnerable due to its reliance on tourism for at least 40 percent of annual GDP, as most of the plant and infrastructure for its largest industry and economic engine are located on the coast.
Over time, coastal erosion or concerns about natural disasters may make some regions less attractive to tourists, Moodys warned. For a number of small-island sovereigns, such as The Bahamas, Belize, Fiji or Maldives, tourism is a driver of economic activity, and a major source of export revenue and foreign exchange.
Permanently lower growth may weaken a governments fiscal strength. Moreover, government compensation for lost income through higher spending or tax moratoria would widen budget deficits and raise debt. Among the sovereigns exposed to sea level rise, fiscal strength is particularly weak in Egypt, The Bahamas, Belize, Suriname and Tunisia.
While tourist inflows generally recover following natural disasters, the recovery period varies, and can be longer in the aftermath of more extreme events. In The Bahamas, storms or hurricanes have not hit key tourist destinations recently [apart from Abaco], but Hurricane Matthew in 2016 resulted in a slowdown in tourist inflows to Grand Bahama, which are yet to recover to pre-2016 levels.
Moodys also indicated that The Bahamas efforts to counter this threat to-date have been less than impressive, adding: In The Bahamas, a regulatory framework is in place to curb the effects of sea level rise. However, a lack of co-ordination among institutions and a high degree of private ownership of coastal lands hamper these efforts.
Sea level rise and related shocks pose material credit risk to Vietnam, Egypt, Suriname, The Bahamas and other small island sovereigns, including Maldives and Fiji. The pace of increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters related to sea level rise and the effectiveness of adaptation measures will determine the extent of the credit constraints that these sovereigns face.
Detailing the economic and social consequences of not acting, Moodys added: The economic and social repercussions of lost income, damage to assets, loss of life, health issues and forced migration from the sudden events related to sea level rise are immediate. The main credit channels for sovereigns are economic and fiscal strength.
Vulnerability to extreme events related to sea level rise can also undermine investment, and heighten susceptibility to event risk, by hindering the ability of governments to borrow to rebuild, increasing losses for banks, raising external pressures, and/or amplifying political risk as populations come under stress. While one isolated shock related to sea level rise is unlikely to materially weaken a sovereigns credit profile, repeated shocks could do.
- About 70 animals rescued from Bahamas, brought to Indian River County - TCPalm - June 17th, 2020
- Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Prepares For Phase 1 Reopening June 15 - PRNewswire - June 17th, 2020
- Unraveling The Mysterious Death of Sir Harry Oakes in the Bahamas - dujour.com - June 17th, 2020
- Op-Ed: It's better in The Bahamas - EyeWitness News - June 17th, 2020
- Jamaica and Bahamas officially reopen for tourists, nationals Here's what to expect - Face2Face Africa - June 17th, 2020
- Bahamas Oil and Gas Market Outlook to 2023-Strategic Analysis, Insights, Forecasts and Opportunities in Bahamas - Cole of Duty - June 17th, 2020
- No negative test, no entry: Doctors weigh in on reopening Phase 2 - EyeWitness News - June 17th, 2020
- Atlantis to start phased reopening July 7 EyeWitness News - EyeWitness News - June 17th, 2020
- Johnson: Missed WTO targets not the focus - EyeWitness News - June 17th, 2020
- INSIGHT: It's only a matter of time before we pay the price for our shameful silence - Bahamas Tribune - June 17th, 2020
- All the Caribbean countries that are currently open for tourism - Time Out - June 17th, 2020
- EDITORIAL: Leave no island behind - Bahamas Tribune - June 17th, 2020
- 'Meals on Wheels' programme rolls on with bank's support - EyeWitness News - June 17th, 2020
- Bahamas becomes the jurisdiction of wealthy Forex brokers - Forex News Now - June 17th, 2020
- People seem to kill at the drop of a hat - Bahamas Tribune - June 17th, 2020
- Govt. looking to mandate the use of masks in public spaces - EyeWitness News - June 17th, 2020
- RBC unveils second phase of COVID-19 relief - EyeWitness News - June 17th, 2020
- BUT: Some teachers return to school what now? - EyeWitness News - June 17th, 2020
- Bahamas Announces Borders Reopening to Travelers on July 1 - TravelPulse - June 1st, 2020
- Breaking: SC of The Bahamas to Implement Massive Regulatory Changes - Finance Magnates - June 1st, 2020
- Where I played: The Abaco Club is Bahamas golf (and living) at its best - Golf.com - June 1st, 2020
- Joy Jibrilu: From Working with Lenny Kravitz to Virtual Visits, the Creative Ways the Bahamas Director of Tourism is Keeping the Region Top of Mind... - June 1st, 2020
- Sailing vloggers defend isolation in Bahamian waters - EyeWitness News - June 1st, 2020
- BPC sets new date for oil exploration in The Bahamas - EyeWitness News - June 1st, 2020
- PHASE 3: Churches, gaming houses, and some island beaches open - EyeWitness News - June 1st, 2020
- Bahamas Petroleum Company highlights strong financial position as it awaits Perseverance exploration well - Proactive Investors UK - June 1st, 2020
- RBDF probing reports of couple isolating on uninhabited island - EyeWitness News - June 1st, 2020
- Small Cap Movers: Bahamas Petroleum rockets after scheduling start of exploration well - Proactive Investors UK - June 1st, 2020
- MOFA marks anniversary of Turin deaths, investigations still ongoing - EyeWitness News - June 1st, 2020
- Government to appeal historic Bahamian court ruling on citizenship - NYCaribNews - May 29th, 2020
- Severe weather warning for Central and Northwest Bahamas - EyeWitness News - May 29th, 2020
- Caribbean community organizations call for decisive action to end homophobic abuse and cyberbullying - UNAIDS - May 29th, 2020
- Commodore: Border patrol strategies expected to cont. to deter illegal landings - EyeWitness News - May 29th, 2020
- Battered Caribbean prepares for hurricanes amid pandemic - The Republic - May 29th, 2020
- Fiscal deficit projected to climb to $1.3 billion EyeWitness News - EyeWitness News - May 29th, 2020
- U.S. will not repatriate citizens still in The Bahamas - EyeWitness News - April 11th, 2020
- Cutler is waiting out the outbreak in The Bahamas - NBCSports.com - April 11th, 2020
- First Coast couple locked down in their boat home in the Bahamas - FirstCoastNews.com WTLV-WJXX - April 11th, 2020
- Spring break during the coronavirus pandemic: 'It's the opposite of the Bahamas' - Reading Eagle - April 11th, 2020
- Govt gives cash to help Bahamians stuck in US - Bahamas Tribune - April 11th, 2020
- Bahamas credit bureau still a work in progress - EyeWitness News - April 11th, 2020
- Bahamas Embassy informs seized medical supplies released with help from US Embassy - Magnetic Media - April 11th, 2020
- Niki & Gabi Are Taking Over the Bahamas in New AwesomenessTV Series - Celeb Secrets - April 11th, 2020
- 100000 Students in The Bahamas served with virtual Education; Minister's remarks - Magnetic Media - April 11th, 2020
- Another case, another death for The Bahamas on Thursday, reports Health Minister - Magnetic Media - April 11th, 2020
- Corrections commiss. satisfied with COVID-19 protocols to safeguard inmates and officers - EyeWitness News - April 11th, 2020
- US citizens urged to leave now - EyeWitness News - March 31st, 2020
- Carmelo Anthony: LeBron James saved my life during trip to Bahamas - syracuse.com - March 31st, 2020
- Caribbean Moment: A Perfect Sandbar in The Bahamas - Caribbean Journal - March 31st, 2020
- Luxury bunkers and private islands how the rich are self-isolating from the coronavirus - CNBC - March 31st, 2020
- New case of COVID-19 in Grand Bahama - Bahamas Tribune - March 31st, 2020
- Report: 600 being tracked in The Bahamas for signs of COVID-19 - Bahamas Tribune - March 31st, 2020
- Bahamas Striping donates protective gear to help combat COVID-19 - EyeWitness News - March 31st, 2020
- More than 700 COVID-19 cases in the region - EyeWitness News - March 31st, 2020
- UPDATED: Fifth case of COVID-19 is in Grand Bahama - Bahamas Tribune - March 31st, 2020
- Bahamas native named UCF president - EyeWitness News - March 31st, 2020
- Johnson warns Immigration permits at stake for breach of COVID-19 orders - EyeWitness News - March 31st, 2020
- One More Confirmed Case of COVID-19 and Amendments to the Bahamas Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Dashboard - The Eleutheran - March 31st, 2020
- Nearly $15 million of $20 million small business loan programme requested to-date - EyeWitness News - March 31st, 2020
- MFA advice to Bahamian Nationals abroad and Foreign Nationals in country after Bahamas border closure - The Eleutheran - March 31st, 2020
- Bahamas | Facts, History & News - March 5th, 2020
- Inside Kylie Jenners Lavish Bahamas Vacation Rental - Architectural Digest - March 5th, 2020
- Storm-ravaged Bahamas rebuilding its power grid with emphasis on solar energy - 60 Minutes - CBS News - March 5th, 2020
- Bahamas Races Ahead With Its 'Sand Dollar' Digital Currency - Bitcoinist - March 5th, 2020
- Beautiful Bimini: A Photo Guide to the Tiny Island in the Bahamas - TravelPulse - March 5th, 2020
- Bahamas and Bologna Go On the Offensive to Battle Coronavirus Concerns - TravelPulse Canada - March 5th, 2020
- Two charged in connection with murder on Grand Bahama - Bahamas Tribune - March 5th, 2020
- Media in the Digital Age Bahamas Press Club Stages Awards Ceremony - Magnetic Media - March 5th, 2020
- Bahamas braves the elements on mainline trip - Keighley News - March 5th, 2020
- First Solar To Grid In Ragged Island makes '60 Minutes' Appearance - Magnetic Media - March 5th, 2020
- Lemon Shark Gets a Snout Rub by Conservationist in the Bahamas - Yahoo News UK - March 5th, 2020
- Kylie Jenner shows off her new 'bronde' locks in the Bahamas - Goss.ie - March 5th, 2020
- Govt. working on transition to cashless society - EyeWitness News - March 5th, 2020
- Americares to expand Bahamas health care programs - The Advocate - February 21st, 2020
- Banyan Tree to Open Resort With Overwater Bungalows in The Bahamas - Caribbean Journal - February 21st, 2020
- Bahamas Estate Once Home to the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson Hits the Market - Mansion Global - February 21st, 2020
- Former Bahamas Home Of The Duke Of Windsor And Wallis Simpson Goes On The Market - Forbes - February 21st, 2020
- Ecumenical Gathering with the NCC USA at Annunciation GOC in Bahamas - All Archdiocese News - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America - February 21st, 2020
- Grant Williams vacationed with Carsen Edwards, others in the Bahamas - The Rookie Wire - February 21st, 2020
- AIBT & BFSB Joint Response The Bahamas Off The EU Blacklist - Mondaq News Alerts - February 21st, 2020