MPs call for debt cancellation to fight climate breakdown

Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy has co-ordinated a letter calling on the UK Government to push for debt cancellation for climate-vulnerable countries. 

The letter, sent to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in the final days of COP26, was co-signed by 43 MPs from Labour, the SNP, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats. 

It argues: “…the global South is now being forced to confront the climate emergency with both hands tied behind its back.”  

It also calls on the government to do “everything in [its] power to help the world mobilise its resources to confront climate disaster”. 

The MPs demand that the government pushes for an expansion of the G20 Common Framework to consider middle-income climate-vulnerable countries for debt relief treatment, and ensure private sector participation. 

MP Ribeiro-Addy said: “Debilitating debt repayments leave countries in the global South even more exposed to the harshest impacts of climate breakdown, despite the fact that these countries did the least to cause it. 

“Many of these countries are unable to prioritise their response to the climate emergency because they are still being forced to pay back debts – which have been repaid many times over in some cases – to rich countries that transitioned on the back of vast emissions and colonial exploitation. 

The letter demands that the government supports calls for automatic debt payment suspension, and relief for countries that experience natural disasters alongside a climate financing facility. 

Noting that 90% of bond contracts are governed by English law, it also calls for the UK to legislate to stop private creditors from suing developing countries. 

Ribeiro-Addy added: “There’s no climate justice without debt justice. It’s absolutely crucial that the UK pushes for real action on this at COP26.” 

COP26 has seen other public figures speak about debt justice for climate-vulnerable countries. 

In a speech during the conference, Sonam P Wangdi, chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group which consists of 46 countries, said: “If you have a climate disaster and you apply for a loan, it takes four or five years, it doesn’t make sense.  

“You’re not able to help your people, you aren’t able to finance a rebuild or secure livelihoods. 

“We end up borrowing and most of the LDCs are now getting into debt traps. We have borrowed up to the eyeballs.” 

You can watch the full speech here.  

Photo credit: UK Parliament on Flickr

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