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UK News

Christian leaders call for debt relief for countries hit by climate chaos

by Tola Mbakwe

In a letter to The Times, representatives of the United Reformed Church, Quakers in Britain, Church of Scotland, Baptist Union, Churches Together England and more, urged politicians to help poor countries deal with their climate crisis.

"As a rich nation which has benefited from 'cheap' fossil fuel energy, the UK should support poorer countries in their responses to the climate crisis," they said.

"As well as finance and technology to aid a global transition to zero carbon, this support must include funding and debt relief for countries hit by climate-related disasters.

"The UN has found that climate disasters now occur at the rate of one a week. There is no international agreement on how finance should be provided for countries suffering loss and damage, and the burden continues to fall on poorer countries that have done little to cause the crisis, plunging them deeper into poverty."

The leaders asked that the issue be addressed at the COP25 UN climate talks starting next week in Madrid.

"All people are equal in the sight of God – and this truth must be reflected in our actions. The UN talks must include and listen to communities in the global south, for whom climate issues are matters of life and death," they added.

The letter ended: "Whatever the election outcome, the next government has a moral duty to address these issues of global justice.

An open letter signed by more than 150 organisations, including Quakers in Britain, made a similar call for a climate disaster fund to support communities hit by the climate crisis.

The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM), is being reviewed at COP25. The WIM was established in 2013 to support vulnerable countries already experiencing extreme and slow onset climate disasters, such as flooding, droughts and rising sea levels.

Quakers in Britain said six years on, the WIM has failed to agree how finance should be found.

The open letter calls for a disaster fund, financed by wealthy countries, and an interest-free suspension on debt for poor countries experiencing climate disasters.

It notes that "without finance to help countries cope with climate-induced loss and damage, the most vulnerable parts of the world will sink deeper into debt and poverty every time they are hit by climate disasters they did not cause."

Oliver Robertson, head of Witness and Worship for Quakers in Britain, said: "The current international response to the climate crisis treats some lives as of more value than others, leaving people in the poorest countries to deal with the devastation caused by rich countries' failures. This is a moral outrage. Quakers believe all people are equal in the sight of God, and that belief requires us to speak out against such a monumental injustice."

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