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. 

Declaration of the GCAP Global Assembly 2023

–Call for Global Justice to Achieve the SDGs

The GCAP Global Assembly 2023 meeting in New York on 20 and 21 September 2023 calls urgent attention to the multiple crises we face as humanity and priority actions needed as a result. These challenges have brought us perilously close to a critical threshold, where ongoing and deepening conflicts in all regions and multiple attacks on human rights defenders threaten our common future and violate fundamental rights of all. Many of the planetary boundaries have been breached, jeopardizing the continuity of life as we know it. This is a consequence of the irreversible impacts of climate change, accelerated biodiversity loss, rising global temperatures and unprecedented monsoon floods as well as environmental pollution.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing economic, social and environmental inequalities highlighting the persistent failures to learn from our mistakes. This is evident in our continued adherence to a development model that disregards human rights obligations of governments and relies on exploitation of people and nature. In the name of economic recovery, unjust policies are being promoted, leading to austerity measures, xenophobia, setbacks in social progress, heightened conflicts, land dispossession from communities and the exacerbation of socio-environmental conflicts for the imposition of megaprojects, monocultures and carbon markets. We denounce complicity between states and transnational corporations which promote fallacious and bogus solutions to the climate emergency.

Download the GCAP Global Assembly 2023 here.

Read the Declaration here. 

GCAP & 221 civil society groups urge leaders at COP28 to transform public finance

GCAP and 221 civil society groups from 55 countries have sent an open letter calling on world leaders to transform international public finance to tackle climate change and deliver a just energy transition.

The letter, signed by the GCAP, Bretton Woods Project, Oil Change International, Debt Justice, Power Shift Africa, Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development, and Climate Action Network International, urges heads of state to use COP28 to overhaul global monetary, trade, tax, and debt rules, as well as international financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Released ahead of COP28’s Finance Day on 4 December, when major public finance announcements are expected, the letter warns the current global financial architecture is perpetuating fossil fuel production, locking climate-vulnerable countries into debt, and delaying a just energy transition.

When it comes to funding a just transition to 100% renewable energy systems, the gap between what climate-vulnerable countries have and what they need is vast. Phasing out fossil fuels and scaling up renewable in developing countries will cost an estimated $1.7 trillion a year, and rich countries’ ‘fair share’ of all climate costs in the Global South is calculated at almost $6 trillion a year. Both estimates dwarf the $100 billion a year in climate finance long promised by high-income countries to low-income ones.

The letter states that public money should be used to fund proven climate solutions and prioritise community-led renewable energy, rather than fossil fuels; development banks should be more accountable and democratic; and large scale debt cancellation must be secured.

Finance-related discussions on the table at COP28 include: new pledges to the Loss and Damage fund; sessions on Climate Resilient Debt Clauses, IMF Special Drawing Rights and innovation; and the launch of a new taxation taskforce, led by France and Kenya. Barbados, Kenya and Colombia are among the countries calling for financial system reform.

Read the Letter Here.

Civil Society Advocates for New IMF Special Drawing Rights Allocation at COP28 to Support Countries in Need

Photo credit: Down to Earth

At COP28, civil society organizations, academics, and experts are urging world leaders to prioritize the incorporation of IMF Special Drawing Rights as a fundamental aspect of the response to the climate crisis. A statement issued by 120 civil society organizations, including the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), and 23 academics and specialists emphasizes:

  • A new $650 billion issuance of SDRs for immediate global relief, and regular, periodic SDR issuances to support climate investments;
  • The creation of targeted future allocations that distribute SDRs more effectively toward all low- and middle-income countries;
  • Reforms to broaden SDR rechanneling mechanisms while minimizing debt and conditions attached to their use.

A growing number of developing countries are spending more on debt service than on climate and social spending, combined. Loss and damage from climate change is already costing climate vulnerable countries nearly $200 billion per year. Despite the G20’s commitment to rechannel $100 billion in SDRs in October 2021, as of October 2023 just $702 million of these funds had actually reached vulnerable countries.

The letter notes the need for a new $650 billion issuance of Special Drawing Rights to help meet urgent and climbing financing needs for developing countries in ways that won’t create additional debt burdens and undue policy conditionality.

At this time of crisis, the letter calls for action on SDRs to go much further than that. How Special Drawing Rights work and how they are distributed is decided according to an unequal global financial architecture. The Vulnerable Twenty (V20) group of countries notes that 68 climate-vulnerable members, while accounting for “21.7% of the global population and 44.7% of IMF programs, have only 5.3% of IMF votes. This unbalanced system harms V20 countries in the allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).”

The fact that the allocation of SDRs is pegged to the IMF’s quota system means that they are distributed first to those who need them least.

This quota system, rooted in colonial legacies, also determines that those same countries hold the largest voice in IMF decision-making. In a few days’ time, it is expected that the IMF’s Governors will again conclude a general review of quotas without realignment of IMF quota shares. Given the failure of the IMF’s quota review to give a greater voice to climate vulnerable countries, we must call for more ambition at COP28. We can – and must – decide now to change the rules to create an international reserve currency system that works for people and the planet.

Read the Statement here.

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)