The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team continues to accelerate and broaden its work on climate and energy security. On Wednesday, March 1, Secretary of the Navy, The Hon. Carlos Del Toro addressed faculty, staff, students, and Bahamian officials gathered at the University of The Bahamas’ Performing Arts Centre on “Building Resilience and Security in Island Countries Threatened by Climate Change.”
The Department of Defense sees climate change as a major risk to U.S. national security, as it is reshaping geostrategic, operational, and tactical environments.
Addressing the challenge on a global level provides the U.S. government with the opportunity to work closely with its allies and partners to prepare for and prevent challenges linked to global warming –greater humanitarian need, instability, and irregular migration.
“I’m here to offer solidarity and partnership but most importantly of all, to listen to all of you, to listen to your challenges, to listen to your stories. I want to hear from you about what is on your mind, in your hearts. I want to learn about how you see the world through your own eyes. I am here to engage with you on an urgent priority of all of us, the climate crisis,” he said.
In bringing remarks on behalf of the government, Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe underscored global warming is a matter of life or death for The Bahamas.
“We won’t have a choice, if there is not a reverse to either become refugees, migrants ourselves or die. It is that serious a matter for this country.”
He congratulated the University of The Bahamas on accomplishing a “first.”
“This is the first visit of a U.S. Secretary of the Navy to The Bahamas in an official capacity and it is to address this body. On top of that he is accompanied by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for this hemisphere, such is the importance of this matter.”
No region impacts United States’ national security strategy more directly than the Western Hemisphere, according to Daniel Eriksen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for the Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA).
“This strategy calls on the U.S. government to deepen its partnerships throughout the region so we can build and preserve a democratic, prosperous, resilient, and secure hemisphere. In this challenge, which is substantial every partner and every partnership is important, and we view The Bahamas as an important partner. We are also pleased and appreciate the efforts of the University of The Bahamas.”
The defense and climate change lecture initiative stemmed, in part, from a meeting between Secretary Del Toro and Prime Minister Philip Davis at a Local2030 Island Network event in September 2022.
“We have gathered here today as a step in allowing us to work towards a more sustainable and secure future for all,” said President of the University of The Bahamas (UB), Dr Erik Rolland.
The Department of Defense is positioned better than any other U.S. institution to be a leading agent for change. It can not only reduce its carbon footprint but to also play a critical leadership role in helping reduce the United States’ carbon footprint.
The U.S. Marine Corp has renewable energy at bases all over the world, as well as 18 microgrids. Its Marine Corps Logistics Base in Georgia is the first to achieve “net zero” status.
Greater use of renewables means fewer fossil fuels and lower emissions. It makes U.S. bases more resilient in the face of natural disasters and other power disruptions. It also results in crucial cost savings.
“At the Department of the Navy, we view the climate crisis much the same way as ‘damage control efforts’ on a stricken ship,” said Secretary Del Toro. It is an ‘all hands on deck’ moment and universities have many of those talented hands we need ‘on deck.’
As the Navy sets up its Naval Innovation Center at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, Del Toro announced his intention to forge a partnership with UB like the one the Navy has struck with Stanford University, one of the world’s leading research and teaching institutions.
He also foreshadowed the availability of more U.S. vessels to The Bahamas as the Navy builds more expeditionary medical ships with shallow drafts.
Said Secretary Del Toro: “I look forward to doing everything in my power to as Secretary of the Navy to further enhance our partnership and our cooperation.”