Cancel the Debt for Climate Justice

There’s a huge issue stopping lower income countries from confronting the climate crisis – debt.

National debts have been growing in recent years, and 54 countries are now in crisis. The crushing weight of those debts mean that many countries can’t rebuild when hit by disasters such as floods and hurricanes, have little room to adapt or transition to a greener economy and are being forced to go into more debt to pay for the crisis.

It’s a huge injustice at the heart of the climate emergency.

Read our newest briefing to get up to speed with how debt and climate are related.

There can be no climate justice without debt justice

The situation

Lower income countries are least responsible for emissions causing the climate crisis, and worst affected. It’s the richer polluting countries that should pay for the damage caused and to support the transition, something they have partly acknowledged but have so far failed to do.

Several countries in the Caribbean were devastated by hurricanes during 2017. Some of those countries were already heavily indebted, partly because of loans taken out to help with rebuilding efforts following previous disasters. In the event of environmental disaster, we call on all creditors, including the IMF and World Bank, to suspend debt payments. Debts must be reduced to a sustainable level, and assistance to rebuild must be provided as grants, not loans.

  • Set up a fund for climate disasters, and when disaster hits, automatically suspend debts.
  • Give climate finance as grants, not loans, so that climate vulnerable countries do not have to go into more debt
  • Cancel the debts of all countries that need it and make sure it doesn’t build up in the future so they can deal with the climate crisis

Campaign Resources

Briefing: Debt demands and debunking distractions for climate action
Supporter briefing: Debt Justice for Climate Justice
The debt-fossil fuel trap: Why debt is a barrier to fossil fuel phase-out and what we can do about it
La Trappola Debitocombustibili Fossili: Perché il debito è un ostacolo all’abbandono dei combustibili fossili e cosa possiamo fare al riguardo
Briefing: The Debt and Climate Crises
Briefing: Climate and Debt - the perfect storm
Briefing: Don't owe, shouldn't pay - the impact of climate change on debt in vulnerable countries (Nov 2018)