Media briefing: Key statistics on climate change and debt ahead of COP27

For questions and interviews on the links between debt and climate change please contact:
Tim Jones, Debt Justice: +44 7307 620372 tim@debtjustice.org.uk
Dharini Parthasarathy, Climate Action Network: dparthasarathy@climatenetwork.org

The debt crisis and climate crisis are inextricably linked. Below are four key statistics you could use in your coverage ahead of and during the COP27 climate negotiations.

1) The climate crisis could increase African country debts by $1 trillion
Sub-Saharan African countries will have to take on almost  $1 trillion in debt over the next ten years unless wealthy countries provide adequate finance to address the climate crisis, according to a new report published by Debt Justice and Climate Action Network International.[1]

2) Devastating floods in Pakistan in 2010 caused additional debt of up to $40 billion
According to Debt Justice calculations, after being hit by devastating floods in 2010, the government of Pakistan had to borrow between $20 billion and $40 billion more than it would otherwise have needed to borrow, leading to additional annual interest payments of between $1.6 billion and $3.1 billion. Over 10 years, the total cost to the people of Pakistan of the debt and the interest payments are estimated at between $36 billion and $71 billion.[2] Pakistan has been hit by similarly devastating floods in 2022.

3) Over 70% of climate finance is currently provided as loans
The most recent figures from the OECD show that in 2020, just 26% of climate finance was grants, while 71% was loans, adding to the debt crisis facing many climate-vulnerable countries.[3]

4) Small island states spend 18 times more in debt repayments than they receive in climate finance
Eurodad have calculated that debt payments by small island states far outweigh the climate finance they receive.[4]

Heidi Chow, Executive Director or Debt Justice said:
“The climate and debt crises are rapidly spiraling out of control. We need to break out of the debt-climate trap and ensure that inadequate climate finance does not pile even more debt onto lower income countries. Wealthy governments should urgently cancel debt and take responsibility for the climate crisis by providing adequate grant-based climate finance.”

Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International, said:
“Every climate disaster is an economic disaster. Vulnerable communities in developing countries are shouldering the worst impacts of the entwined debt and climate crises. People who have done the least to cause the climate crisis deserve support and solidarity. It is time for new international funding to address climate-induced Loss and Damage by enabling countries to recover from devastating floods, storms and rising seas, to avoid entrenching them further into debt.”


Debt Justice (formerly Jubilee Debt Campaign) is a UK charity working to end poverty caused by unjust debt through education, research and campaigning: https://debtjustice.org.uk/

Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 1800 NGOs in more than 130 countries fighting the climate crisis. More information on www.climatenetwork.org

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[1] For further details including the methodology and data sources for these calculations, please read our briefing “Estimating debt which could be taken on by African governments if there is no grant funding for loss and damage, and no additional grant funding for adaptation” – https://debtjustice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Calculating-debt-arising-from-lack-of-loss-and-damage-finance.pdf

[2] https://debtjustice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Pakistan-debt-from-2010-floods_Oct-2022.pdf

[3] https://www.oecd.org/climate-change/finance-usd-100-billion-goal/aggregate-trends-of-climate-finance-provided-and-mobilised-by-developed-countries-in-2013-2020.pdf

[4] https://assets.nationbuilder.com/eurodad/pages/3046/attachments/original/1665410109/SIDS-report-final.pdf?1665410109

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