logo

ugm-logo

Debts add to disaster for climate-hit nations

Antigua and Barbuda after Hurricane Irma.

For many countries impacted by the negative impacts of climate change, much more money is leaving in debt payments than they receive in grants to cope with climate impacts (Theresa May: It’s Britain’s duty to help nations hit by climate change, 12 December).

Even before this autumn’s devastating hurricanes, Caribbean countries were suffering under unsustainable debts caused by the legacy of colonialism, unjust trade rules, harsh austerity measures imposed in return for bailouts, and past disasters. Now countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica, are expected to keep paying debts while struggling to rebuild.

One of the main “solutions” proposed to this cycle of climate-induced disasters and indebtedness is climate risk insurance. This fundamentally unjust measure places the financial burden of climate impacts on people who have done the least to cause the problem of climate change, while ensuring that creditors keep being paid in the event of climate disasters. Instead, debt cancellation is needed to make debts sustainable, and all assistance to adapt to – and rebuild from – climate disasters must be in the form of grants, not loans.
Sarah-Jayne Clifton
Director, Jubilee Debt Campaign

Theresa May’s article failed to explain how the fight to limit climate change is helped by fracking, by the building of Hinckley Point with its absurd overpricing of the cost of each unit of electricity (another example of Conservatives milking citizens to benefit commerce), by the third runway at Heathrow or by her government’s refusal to include environmental costs in the calculation of the value of gross national product, another example of said welfare state.

Her stock answer to demands for more being spent on (for example) the NHS is that increased interest payments on borrowing cannot be borne because they will prejudice future generations, yet the threat to future generations from the effects of climate change is immeasurably greater. Moreover, May has no qualms in leaving future generations with the burden of guarding spent nuclear fuel for hundreds of years. The inadequacy of her policies is plain.
Ian Tysh
Wealden Green party, East Sussex