Climate Justice


As GCAP works to end poverty and inequalities. We simultaneously fight for social, economic and gender rights and climate justice.

Climate Justice as an essential part of Global Justice & Sustainable Development for All

The climate and biodiversity crises continue. We are approaching a point of no return. Unless we act now, humanity will be the cause of a 2.7 degree warming by the end of the century, affecting 1 million species at risk of extinction. Specifically for the human race, food security has been severely compromised further, and is nearing possible, eventual collapse. In recent history, 140 million people went through the devastating impacts of floods, droughts, storms, and wildfires. In this process, 660 million older people and children under the age of five live in areas affected by heatwaves and have been disproportionately affected by illness and death. 

Fossil fuels must be phased out in the coming years – until 2030 the emissions have to been reduced 45% in order to keep the 1.5 degree target alive. Recent developments show that the use of fossil fuels is actually increasing. We need climate justice that responds to the dangers of fossil fuels and can guarantee the health and well-being of people now and in the future and of planet earth and nature. 

Biodiversity loss and the climate crisis exacerbate existing inequalities. Those least responsible for contributing to biodiversity loss and climate change are hit hardest – the most affected people and areas (MAPA) – for example indigenous peoples, small farmers, fisherfolk, older people, persons with disabilities, women, widows, children. Indigenous knowledge, skills, rotational agriculture and crop cultures are at risk of being completely lost. The most affected people have very poor access to political processes – at national level, and internationally, at the climate COPs. The ESCAZU agreement in Latin America and Caribbean creates opportunities for justice and for participation of the most affected people. 


Demands  for Climate Justice 

  1. Meet and exceed the Paris Agreement commitments. Work to ensure that global temperatures do not rise more than 1.5 Celsius. Encourage Net Zero Targets, but make sure they are defined by immediate, tangible change. 
  2. Leave fossil fuels in the ground. Eliminate and reallocate subsidies paid to the fossil fuel industry. Stop building new coal plants and retire the existing fleet. 
  3. Recognise the ecological debt owed by rich countries and previous generations. 
  4. Rich countries must finance the energy transition, and provide funding to prevent and recover from calamities, for low- and middle- income countries, as well as marginalised communities everywhere. They must honour their commitment to provide US$100 billion annually for climate financing. $100 billion is a floor, not a ceiling, and it must be provided as grants, not debt-inducing loans.
  5. Stimulus measures must focus on green recovery and low-carbon investment. COVID-19 recovery packages present a major opportunity for the world to ‘build back better’ by addressing the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, and in particular their impact on marginalised and excluded communities, refugees and migrants, women and youth. 



JUNE 2023: GCAP signs statement to cancel the debt of Global South countries now

54 countries in the global south are in debt crisis. Debt drains resources away from healthcare, education, social protection, a green just transition and addressing the impacts of the climate crisis, and transfers them to the pockets of foreign creditors. Global south countries are spending 5 times more on repaying debt than they are on addressing the climate crisis. Meanwhile, many countries are being forced to exploit their natural resources, including fossil fuels, to generate revenue for debt repayments.

Debt crises are no accident. From the era of colonialism to the present day, countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have been forced to rely on borrowing to make ends meet.

Now rising interest rates, high food and fuel prices, and the impacts of the climate crisis, are making the situation much worse.

Rich countries are not fulfilling their own commitments to give climate finance. They are promoting false solutions. And they are refusing to recognise their climate debt to global south countries. This is a debt they owe for the destruction they have caused to our planet from industrialisation to the present day, only made possible because of the colonial and neo-colonial plunder and exploitation of the global south. The recognition of the existence of a climate debt that the global north owes to the global south should lead to structural and financial reparations, which must be understood as a form of reparative justice rather than ‘aid’.

Climate vulnerable countries are being forced to borrow to cover the costs of their adaptation and mitigation needs, and to cover the costs of addressing Loss and Damage. Much of the meager climate finance made available comes in the form of loans, a clear injustice to the people and communities of the global south who have long suffered the impacts of the climate crisis they did not create. Inevitably, as debts accumulate, debt service also soars, including repayments for many questionable and fraudulent debt-funded projects that have destroyed environments, worsened the climate crisis, displaced communities, and violated human rights.

Global south countries are stuck in a debt-climate trap, while wealthy banks, corporations and institutions profit from this unfair situation. This injustice has to end.

Global south debts must be cancelled to allow governments to tackle the climate crisis, address inequalities and invest in their peoples’ wellbeing.

Rich countries must immediately agree to cancel debt across all creditors, for all countries in need, and without conditions. They have plenty of opportunities coming up to do so: UN General Assembly and SDG Summit (New York, September) , IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings (Marrakech, October) and COP28 (Dubai, December). Only through ambitious debt cancellation can global south governments provide adequate public finance to respond to their immediate and long-term development needs, including the climate crisis. Only with debt justice can we have climate justice.

This year we need to see:

●  A comprehensive and rapid debt cancellation process covering private, governmental

and multilateral creditors;

●  The enforcement of private lender participation in debt relief through legislation in major

jurisdictions, including New York and the UK;

●  Rich countries delivering on their promises to provide adequate new and additional, grants-based climate finance.

GCAP has signed this statement – along with Eurodad, Debt Justice and the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development and other organisations.

Join our call to #CancelTheDebt because there is no #ClimateJustice without #DebtJustice!

Sign the statement here:

(Photo Credit – featured images from APMDD Twitter, Manila Bulletin)