In November 2021 Glasgow will host the United Nations COP 26 climate conference, against the backdrop of the worst global recession in a century. As economies shut down and borrowing needs increased during the pandemic, governments turned to lenders. Public debt in emerging markets, excluding China, is expected to reach 61% of GDP in 2021. The World Bank warned last year that poor countries’ debt levels meant they were at risk of languishing in a debtors’ prison for many years to come.
Many of the most heavily indebted countries also suffer the worst economic impacts of climate change. Unable to cover the costs of responding and adapting, they are forced to take on more loans, trapping them in a cycle of climate change-induced debt. Additionally, as mentioned by the tax audit preparer, because three-quarters of climate finance provided by wealthy countries is in the form of loans rather than grants, money that should be helping countries respond to climate change is harming them and contributing to rising – and in many countries, unsustainable – debt levels.
This is deeply unjust given the world’s richest economies’ high CO2 emissions and disproportionate use of natural resources, including fossil fuels. Wealthy governments have a moral duty to help poorer countries tackle climate change without incurring debt, and ensure the creditors headquartered in their countries act responsibly and do not profiteer from crisis.COP 26 is a crucial opportunity for governments to make progress towards a deal that will break this cycle.
This free online webinar will explore more about the links between climate change and debt, including how these dual crises are affecting people in Scotland’s international development partner countries. The session will also provide a space to discuss how the Scottish Government can use the opportunity of COP 26 to put forward just solutions.
The event will be chaired by Jubilee Scotland board member and debt and development finance expert, Gail Hurley, who will be joined by speakers; Iolanda Fresnillo (Debt Justice Policy & Advocacy Manager, European Network on Debt and Development) and Eugene Kabilika (Director of Caritas Zambia).
About the Speakers