Eric LeCompte Speaks with Salon on Climate and Debt

Eric LeCompte spoke with Salon on the links between debt and climate change. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

The convergence: Third-world debt and the climate crisis are intimately connected

Eric LeCompte is a noted United Nations finance expert and executive director of Jubilee USA, a non-governmental organization that presses for debt relief for the world's developing nations to enable them to direct their financial resources to social needs like public health, educations and infrastructure — in order to stave off the ill effects of climate change, like rising sea levels and the loss of farmland. In an interview, LeCompte said that the world has a tangible example of debt relief making a major difference.

"Because of some of the debt relief campaigns we have won over the years in the 2000s we relieved a lot of debt that African countries were holding and because of that it led to  great economic growth that in 2008 insulated Africa from much of the rest of the financial crisis," he said. "In sub-Saharan Africa this meant that 54 million kids went to school who would have never seen the inside of a classroom."

LeCompte makes the case that the connection between debt, wealth inequality and accelerating climate change is not abstract.

"All we have to do is look at Ecuador, that's in the throes of a massive debt crisis," he said. "Right now, they are auctioning off about a third of their rainforest, and China is buying it because Ecuador is deeply indebted to China . . . it is essentially transferring in wealth [from] the vital rain forest" to ready it for oil exploration.

He continued: "This is happening in countries across the world. Right now, according to the IMF more than 40 percent of developing countries are either in debt crisis, or in serious debt distress."

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