Industrialised countries’ “carbon debt” exceeds financial debts of developing countries

The value of "environmental debt" that industrialised nations owe the global community, in lieu of pollution and climate change, is far greater than the financial deficits of the developing world, claims a new report by UK charity Christian Aid.

The report “Climate Debt Equity & Survival“(linked below), which was published this week, calls for the full cancelation of external debts of developing countries citing “the enormity of the environmental debt created by climate change”.

According to the report’s ‘illustrative estimates’, G7 countries are running up carbon debts in economic efficiency terms of around $13 trillion each year. On the same calculation the group of highly indebted poor countries (HIPCs) are running up credits of between $141-$612 billion because of their under-use of fossil fuel resources and the climate. At the higher end of the scale this gives a credit three times the conventional debt of the HIPCs, which stands around $200 billion.

The report recommends that industrialised countries should commit significant new resources and technology to help poor countries affected by the increasingly volatile and uncertain global climate.

According to Nick Robbins of the International Institute for International Development, also a collaborator on the report: “A new and more profound struggle is stirring; who should have the right to benefit from the air, water, soil and materials that provide the foundations for life? If the struggles of the past were over the ownership of factories and fields, the focus is now shifting to battles over the biosphere.”

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