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Global activists demand debt cancellation to address climate emergency

ACTIVISTS from across the world called today for the cancellation of debts of developing countries to address the climate crisis in a campaign aimed at uniting labour and social movements.

Debt for Climate campaigners will mobilise globally to demand an immediate end of all global South debts to pave the way for a real response to the climate emergency.

Launching the campaign, Ecoleaks founder and activist Esteban Servat said that, amid a lack of action from world leaders, the climate movement needs to take the worsening climate crisis “into our own hands.”

The Argentinian activist, currently living in exile, said that unless the burden of debt is lifted from the shoulders of countries in the south, it will be impossible for climate targets to be met and fund a transition away from fossil fuels.

He said: “Labour movements really understand the issue of debt: it affects their jobs, salaries and their capacities to put food on the table.

“[The Debt for Climate] movement brings the climate movement together with the labour movement  to build a bridge between us at a time where they are trying to divide us.”

Rob Callender of Britain’s Jubilee for Climate campaign spoke on the importance of debt cancellation. He said: “As long as debt exists, global climate steps will not get to where they need.

“While debt exists, there is a global bind and, because of the record of existing debt, it is extremely difficult for countries to move forward.”

Juan Pablo Olsson of Progressive International Argentina said that the campaign also aims to question the agenda of the World Bank and G7 countries.

He said: “Countries in the global South will not be able to adapt to climate change if we are not able to tackle all this illegitimate debt [we are under.]

“We do not accept financial colonialism.

“Argentinian people and nature are the victims of the country’s debt and without international action, we will face huge problems.”

Activist Sunny Morgan from South Africa said: “If the debt is cancelled, we will be able to put food on our tables, pay our workers their wages and reduce our impact on the environment.

“We are holding the global North responsible.”

He called for the mass mobilisation of people on the streets so that the demand for debt cancellations becomes mainstream.

Young activist Regina Cabrera from Fridays for Future in Latin America hit out at meetings of world leaders when “there is real action that can be taken.”

She said: “The global South is already suffering the effects of climate change. It is taking lives.”

Sri Lankan activist Melani Gunathilaka spoke at the launch amid an electricity cut — one of many experienced amid the country’s severe energy crisis.

She called for an end to foreign interference, saying: “For countries like Sri Lanka to make good decisions for the [energy] adaptation plans, we cannot do it with other countries telling us what to do and how we can use the loans we have got from them.”

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