Jubilee Debt Campaign Birmingham

WORLD DEBT & CLIMATE CHANGE

Posted on: March 21, 2009

A contribution from Ray Collier committed activist for World Debt Cancellation and Climate Change.

The World debt crisis has destroyed the lives of millions of people, animals and the environment. The education, health care systems and social services virtually collapsed as money was drawn off to service the foreign debt. This was caused by irresponsible lending policies of the Minority World Banks. Economic policies were forced on the Majority World by the Minority World countries, ably abetted by multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It is only now in 2009, in the light of the dubious financial products, which has produced the credit crunch, that people are willing to point the finger of blame primary at the banks for causing World Debt.

The ecological damage caused by Majority World debt is extensive and is weakening the biosphere from all future creatures of the planet, including humankind. The impact of paying Majority World debt, has diminished dramatically social spending, leading to a fall in life expectancy and rampant malnutrition among children, while millions of people eat less than the minimum required.

In her book, The Debt Boomerang, the political economist, Susan George details how intensified environmental destruction was having a “boomerang” effect on poor countries trying to make repayments on their debts. The vicious circle began when countries, often facilitated by the World Bank, borrowed money to build massive projects, such as dams, which caused immense environmental destruction. Then, in orde to generate foreign currency to pay off the debt, they further damaged the environment through massive logging programmes, mineral extraction or clearing huge areas of primal forests to grow, export-oriented crops, such as soya.

The relationship between debt and tropical deforestation is striking. Major debtors such as Indonesia and Brazil increased their rate of deforestation by 82% and 245% respectively between 1980 and 1993. The bulk of the Indonesian forest, apart from New Guinea, is already gone and deforestation has continued apace in Brazil, impoverishing not just these countries, but the biosphere as a whole.

Climate Change is a serious concern and an inescapable responsibility fro scientists and other experts, political and government leaders, local administrators and international organisations, as well as every sector of human society and each human being. It is a moral imperative for all, without exception.

No country alone can solve the problems related to our common environment and Majority World debt, we need to overcome self-interest through collective action. This was highlighted recently by the worst-case scenarios on climate change envisaged by the UN at an international meeting of more then 2,500 researchers, economists and scientists in Copenhagen.

In a statement outlining their six key messages to political leaders they say there is an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climate shifts.

Even modest temperatures will effect millions of people, particularly in the developing world. Lord Stern, the economists, said that if the world was to warm by 5C over the next century there would be dramatic consequences for millions of people leading to mass migrations and inevitable violent conflict.

The Danish Prime Minister said “Business as usual is dead – green growth is the answer to both our climate and economic problems.”

All this presupposes that the international community will adopt a coordinated, effective and prompt international political strategy capable of responding to Majority World debt and Climate change. It would identify ways and means of mitigation and adaptation which are economically accessible to most, enhance sustainable development and fostering a healthy environment. The economic aspect of such ways and means should seriously take into account, that poor nations and sectors of society are particularly vulnerable to adverse consequences of climate change, due to lesser resources and capacity to mitigate their effects and adapt to altered surroundings.

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