Building a colourful blockade, some 40 activist of Debt for Climate Switzerland (DfCS) effectively blocked the entrance of the airport, preventing WEF guests to easily get to their limousine taxi to Davos. Also blocking the main road to the airport, they aimed to disrupt the timetable of the WEF, as speakers and panellist got stuck at the airport. The guests, arriving from all over the world, were confronted directly with their own destructive impact on the world. Because the world cannot afford the 1% anymore, DfCS held up a mirror for those arriving at the airport. Several activist from the Global South were present, giving talks about how their countries suffer the most from WEF devastating policies.
Because the eyes of the world are on Davos during the WEF, Debt for Climate used this attention to address WEF’s harmful policies. Their action was reported on by several big international media. With over 100 articles in different media worldwide, Tweets by Green Pease International and a livestream that was watched over 100 000 times, their action was a big success.
This action was part of a series of three actions around the WEF. The other actions took place in Zurich and Davos, where two Congolese activists from Debt for Climate were invited. In public lectures, workshops and in panel discussions they discussed how the climate crisis is already causing loss and damage in the Global South and in what way the demands of the Debt for Climate campaign can bring about social and environmental justice.
WEF and Climate Debt
As research by the UN Environment Program and Oxfam has shown, the richest 1% is most responsible for climate-change-driving overshoot emissions. The Global North countries are responsible for 92% of excess emissions, while they only represent 40% of the global population and suffer the least from the climate crisis. However, it is the multinational companies located in the Global North that are polluting the most. While the emissions of normal civilians in Europe are decreasing since the 1990’s, the emissions of the top 1% are still increasing. And this one percent, the political and financial global elite that meets during the WEF, is most responsible for the climate crisis while suffering the least from it. Through their individual emissions and professional decisions, they prevent active reparations and solutions for the global South, where the climate crisis is most felt. It is simply fair that rich polluters present at WEF pay for the damage they are causing in other parts of the world.
Debt for Climate Campaign
Debt for Climate is a grassroots, Global South-driven initiative connecting social & climate justice struggles by uniting labour, social and climate movements from the Global South & North. Their main goal is to cancel all debt that Global South countries owe to the IMF and the World Bank. Since the Global North owes the Global South a huge ecological debt, cancelling GS debts is a way of getting these countries out of the debt-trap. In stead of investing in fossil fuels to repay the debt, they can invest in projects that actually make their countries liveable in times of climate crisis and adapt to the impacts of this ongoing and developing crisis.
The Global North has built and keeps on building their wealth on the exploitation of countries in the Global South by plundering their natural resources, at the cost of the growing destruction and sacrifice of populations in countries of the global South.
Therefore, Debt for Climate demands that the richest countries of the Global North begin to pay their climate debt, by cancelling the illegitimate debts, often awarded illegally, that the Global South owes the IMF and the World Bank. You can read more about how exactly Debt for Climate proposes to work on climate and social justice by cancelling debts on their website or on their Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
As a Global North group inside the Global South led “Debt for Climate”-campaign, the strategical role of Debt for Climate Switzerland is to raise awareness in Swiss society for this unequal division of debt, wealth and climate consequences, and to persuade the Swiss government to support the demand for unconditional debt cancellation for the Global South. They organise outreach events, carry out non-violent civil disobedience actions and draw media attention to their actions. To read more about their group and stay up to date on their actions, go to their website and follow them on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.