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Who owes who?: Climate change, debt, equity and survival

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A. Simms
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What is debt? Rich countries pursue highly indebted poor countries to service their foreign financial debts, at great cost to the millions who subsequently go without vital health and education services. But industrialised countries are themselves responsible for a much larger debt to the global community. Their reckless use of fossil fuels has helped create the spectre of climate change a storm cloud which hangs over everyone's future. And it is poor people in poor countries who suffer first and worst from both extreme weather conditions connected to climate change, and from the struggle to service unpayable foreign debts. Our understanding of debt, and who owes it, is horribly wrong and needs changing. As, each day, industrialised countries delay action on the 60-80 per cent cuts that are needed, they go over-budget and are running up an environmental or Bcarbon' debt. Ironically those same countries today stand in judgement over much poorer countries who have comparatively insignificant conventional , financial debts. [author]