Analysis reveals how China can help solve debt
Without substantial debt relief, developing countries – many of which are experiencing growing external debt crises due to the economic consequences of COVID-19 – will face pressures to tap natural capital to pay off short-term debt. This may force them to put aside conservation and climate change ambitions. To protect the environment and reduce global debt, China – which has become the world’s largest bilateral creditor – could implement “debt-for-nature” and “debt-for-climate” swaps, say B. Alexander Simmons and his colleagues. colleagues of this policy. Forum. Using data on climate and biodiversity threats from indebted countries, Simmons and colleagues analyzed opportunities for China to ease the debt burden in exchange for debtor countries’ commitments to mitigate change. climate and environmental protection. They report that several countries under the greatest stress of Chinese debt hold great promise for debt-for-nature and debt-climate swaps, including Angola, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Solomon Islands, which score the highest. for simultaneous threats to climate and biodiversity and Opportunities. For countries like Senegal, Sudan and Zimbabwe, where carbon emissions and climate vulnerability are high, debt-climate swaps could be a priority. Meanwhile, debt-for-nature swaps hold more promise for small countries like Fiji and Togo, which have a lower carbon footprint but have some of the highest concentrations of threatened species and minimal existing protection of their landscapes. intact remaining. “As China prepares to host the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2021, opportunities abound to advance debt swap mechanisms and lead by example in the process. ‘post-2020 conservation era,’ said the authors.
10.1126 / science.abf4049
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