Over 550 experts and activists demand climate justice at COP28

More than 550 economists, development and climate experts, NGOs, and activists have signed an open letter demanding debt cancellation for 54 countries in the global south facing a severe debt crisis.

The open letter, titled “Cancel the debt now to deliver climate justice!” articulates the urgent need to address the intertwined issues of debt, climate crisis, and global economic disparities. The signatories are set to make their voices heard at the UN Climate Summit, COP28, that kicked off on 30 November in Dubai, UAE.

The central focus of the letter is the cancellation of debts for lower-income countries that find themselves on the frontline of the climate emergency. It emphasises the disproportionate impact of debt on critical sectors such as healthcare, education, social protection, and the transition to a green and just economy. The global south countries are revealed to be spending 12 times more on repaying debts than on tackling the climate crisis.

The text of the open letter draws attention to the historical context of debt crises, pointing out that countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean have long been forced into borrowing, dating back to the era of colonialism. Rising interest rates, soaring food and fuel prices, and the compounding effects of the climate crisis exacerbate the current situation.

Rich countries are criticised for not meeting their commitments to provide climate finance, promoting false solutions, and refusing to acknowledge their climate debt to global south nations.

Highlighting the grim reality that climate-vulnerable countries are forced to borrow to address their adaptation and mitigation needs, the letter condemns the meagre climate finance often provided in the form of loans, perpetuating the injustice suffered by communities in the global south.

The letter outlines specific demands for COP28, including the immediate and unconditional cancellation of global south debts across all creditors. It calls for a comprehensive and rapid debt cancellation process covering private, governmental, and multilateral creditors. Additionally, it urges enforcing private lender participation in debt relief through legislation in major jurisdictions, including New York and the UK. (nsh)

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