By Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake*
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka | 23 November 2023 (IDN) — We live in an age of anxiety, a nervous system, a state of permanent emergency that is conducive to a range of psychological operations (PSY-OPS). “Poly crisis’ is a fashionable term these days in United Nations (UN), and Bretton Woods circles that engage in crafting COVID-19 ‘panicdemic’, climate catastrophe, odious debt, inflation, poverty and inequality narratives and related globalist policy making.
Meanwhile, local, national and regional realities and development priorities in countries in the Global South are increasingly marginalized and rendered invisible due to the much-hyped ‘poly crisis’ and proffered global ‘solutions’, which often result in big policy mistakes at the local and national level.
What also tends to be overlooked in international conference circuits is the fact that at the root of the ‘Polycrisis’ is the Euro-American military-business industrial complex. This includes dual use, Gain of Function Research for biological warfare and weather modification technologies like Direct Energy Weapons, NATO proxy wars, and the booming global arms industry headed by the United States which has 750 military bases around the world.
Clearly, rather than yet another climate summit (COP28) the urgent need is for a global Conference to limit the production of destructive weapons and curb the ‘merchants of death’ who profit from war.
The Anthropocene Global Boiling Narrative
The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres recently claimed that global warming had morphed into ‘global boiling’. However, empirical reality in much of tropical South and East Asia this year belied the UN Chief’s Anthropocene climate catastrophe media hype—ahead of yet another UN Climate Summit.
In Sri Lanka the monsoons arrived, much as they had since I can remember, and arguably for eons across the Indian Ocean. Contrary to the El Nino, climate boiling narrative, they again brought cooling winds and plentiful rain to fill the reservoirs for good harvests and hydropower electricity to light homes and city streets. Birds migrated as usual in 2023.
Indeed, geostrategic Sri Lanka, whose carbon footprint is tiny to nonexistent seems to be in a climate ‘cool spot’ or sweet spot—as some climate change models have suggested, receiving slightly more rain than usual. Or perhaps Mother Nature providing an extended rainy season in Sri Lanka is fighting back against the totalizing climate catastrophe/global boiling story!
However, national and South Asia empirical realities that contradict and contravene the official ‘climate catastrophe’ narrative, do not feature in the global media climate catastrophe echo chamber and UN conference circuit that thrives on fear-inducing disaster stories that often promote inappropriate and costly policy mistakes at the local level.
Recently, at the first International Climate Change Forum in Colombo with many foreign participants, President, Ranil Wickremasinghe outlined ambitious plans for Sri Lanka’s green transition [i] In a speech laced with the mandatory UN environmental sustainability and economic growth jargon, the President expressed his determination for Sri Lanka to become the first country in the region to achieve a ‘green economy’.
Wickremesinghe stated that he planned to present the strategic Indian Ocean island’s climate prosperity plan at the United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, more commonly referred to as COP28 to be held in the United Arab Emirates at Dubai from 30 November until 12 December 2023.
USD 100 Billion for a Green Transition Vanity Project?
Blissfully ignorant that many of the major climate-polluting countries in the world are ramping up hydrocarbon production and carbon emissions at this time, the Sri Lankan President noted that the price tag for Eurobond debt-trapped Sri Lanka reaching net zero emissions by 2040 would be a cool $100 billion—over 20 years.
This figure is almost three time larger than the country’s external debt of $35 billion, which caused the first ever sovereign default last year, resulting in rapid local currency deprecation that instantly impoverished citizens. Given the hefty tab of $100 billion for the President’s Green transition vanity project, which the country clearly does not need and cannot afford at this time, the question is who is behind Sri Lanka’s expensive Green Transition agenda?
Heedless, the President stated, “To meet the financial challenges of the green transition, Sri Lanka is committed to raising a significant portion of the required funds through commercial means.” By this is meant borrowing from many of the same Eurobond creditors as BlackRock and Adani that had debt trapped the island through corrupt deals with local politicians and their business cronies.
At this time, Adani, BlackRock’s South Asian partner has already been awarded prime coastal lands in Mannar for so-called Green Energy projects and at the Colombo port ex-ante an agreement with the Paris Club creditors, while the IMF talks up a ‘parity of treatment’ of creditors
What was not mentioned is the fact that almost 40 percent of Sri Lanka’s existing official debt is held by private creditors, hedge funds that charge predatory interest rates many of whom like BlackRock and Adani are greenwashing themselves to market green and blue bonds and scams. 19 percent of Sri Lanka’s debt was owed to China, 7 percent to Japan, and 5 percent by India, the main bi-lateral creditors, with the rest held by Multilateral agencies including the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, IMF.
However, it was the private creditors whose names are secret, which were responsible for the accumulation of Odious debt as a result of corrupt transactions between predatory lenders and local politicians, leading to the staged Default after the Hamilton Reserve Bank filed a court case against the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL), last year.
Sri Lanka’s Asian neighbours have been far more generous and flexible than the Eurobond holders who charge predatory interest rates, who now stand to again benefit from the IMF’s debt restructuring that requires the GoSL to further borrow from the same Eurobond markets that charge predatory interest rates, albeit this time Greenwashed and called Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) bonds.
Greenwashing Bond scams and Financial Crimes
But should an expensive green transition posited on more debt accumulation in the form of Debt for Nature Swaps (DFNS), or ESGs based on opaque and gamed carbon credit calculations to benefit private creditors be a national policy priority?
Speaking of a tough task ahead at the International Climate Change Forum in Colombo earlier this month, the President made the grandiose and absurd claim that tiny Sri Lanka’s green transition was necessary for the planet’s well-being!
Yet, few in the audience thought to ask why Eurobond debt-trapped Sri Lanka whose carbon footprint is minute should rush into a green transition that entails more Eurobond borrowing, which its impoverished citizens cannot afford and do not need at this time? This, especially given that Eurobond trading was the primary cause of the accumulation of Odious Debt that caused the country’s first ever sovereign default.
At this time, questions also arise about the Ranil Rajapakse regime’s IMF debt restructuring program and the rational of making policies based on over-generalized climate catastrophe global narratives–a practice that compounds problems and turns science on its head as was evident during the COVID-19 ‘panicdemic’ and global lockdowns that debt trapped many global south countries.
After all, it is a truism that local and national context-specific and evidence-based policies are necessary, rather than those hyped by Global media narratives about climate boiling.
It is clear that the geostrategic island nation has lost economic sovereignty and policy autonomy to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and its Paris Club creditors debt restructuring, although attempts are on-going to blame Asian neighbours, China and India, for the strategic Indian Ocean island’s first ever Sovereign Default in March 2022.
BlackRock and Adani to benefit from Sri Lanka’s the Green Transition
On the back of the much-hyped climate catastrophe/ global boiling grand narrative, attempts are ongoing through the IMF’s opaque debt data calculations for the Eurobond bailout business, to deepen the debt trap and further impoverish citizens, albeit this time with Green and Blue bonds and scams, also referred to as Debt for Nature Swaps (DFNS), or Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), bonds. But such a green transition that would clearly cause more harm than good.
After all, it is not a secret that the Default last year was fundamentally a consequence of the geopolitical stand-off between the G7, China and India, as much as, corruption of local politicians and their crony business elite.
Hardly surprising then that the IMF’s Sri Lanka debt restructuring program with a mere USD 3.9 billion loan over four years is designed to sustain and deepen its control of the strategic island’s policy space and economic sovereignty by requiring more borrowing on predatory private Eurobond markets now based on obtuse and unscientific carbon credit calculations.
According to the IMF Extended Fund agreement, Sri Lanka must borrow almost USD 2 billion this year alone from the same private markets/ bond traders that had caused the Odious debt trap in the first place by charging predatory interest rates—especially, during economic shocks like COVID-19 lockdowns and the 2019 ISIS claimed Easter Sunday attacks on economy and society.
In the context it is relevant to quote the statement issued by a group of more than 80 International economists and development experts, including Professors Jayati Ghosh, Thomas Piketty, Dani Rodick, Yanis Varoufakis, which called for outright Eurobond debt cancellation given the practice of charging predatory interests rates as well as the lack of transparency. [ii] The statement available at the Debt Justice UK website clearly stated:
Private creditors own almost 40% of Sri Lanka’s external debt stock, mostly in the form of International Sovereign Bonds (ISBs), but higher interest rates mean that they receive over 50% of external debt payments. Such lenders charged a premium to lend to Sri Lanka to cover their risks, which accrued them massive profits and contributed to Sri Lanka’s first ever default in April 2022. Lenders who benefited from higher returns because of the “risk premium” must be willing to take the consequences of that risk. Indeed, ISBs are now trading at significantly lower prices in the secondary market. In this context, giving private bondholders an upper hand relative to sovereign debtors in the Paris Club and the IMF’s required debt negotiations violates the basic principles of natural justice.
However, the IMF “debt restructuring” agenda is designed to deepen the country’s Eurobond debt trap by promoting more borrowing on bondmarkets! Only, now the bonds would be green and blue and pink washed, or Environment, Social (gender) and Governance sensitive bonds, based on obscure and unscientific datafication regarding the volume of carbon emitted by trees and sea grass to mask the lack of transparency in opaque climate science fiction narratives to justify carbonized bond trading
Moreover, the bond holders’ names would still be a secret. In short, the IMF is systematically deepening the debt trap and its control of the island’s economic policy with its bailout conditionalities, and the country is being further impoverished to benefit Colonial Club de Paris bond holders though ESG Debt bondage.
Simultaneously, BlackRock the world’s biggest wealth fund that worth trillions (having received huge US Government Covid-19 bailout funds under the CARES Act to asset strip around the ‘panicdemic’ locked down and debt trapped Global South), and Adani are now being green, blue and pink washed to trade in Green and Blue Bond and scams, also called Environmental, Social and Governance Bonds, ESG or Debt for Nature Swaps (DFNS).
All this begs the question: who drafted Sri Lanka’s ambitious and unnecessary national Green transition plan to the tune of USD 00 billion, when by the President’s own admission, the country lacks the necessary technical expertise on the subject?!
In the final analysis, there is a need to de-link odious debt cancellation/ restructuring from overgeneralized Anthropocene Climate Catastrophe metanarratives. The latter mask climate (neo)colonialism and the push to land and ocean grabbing in the global south in the name of “environmental conservation” for a Global Governance agenda that violates founding principles of the United Nations Charter, such as the Right to Self-determination of colonized peoples, sovereignty, and the territorial integrity. [IDN-InDepthNews]
*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IDN editorial team.
Photo: Sri Lankan President unveils ambitious national green vision paving the way for a sustainable future on 3 November 2023. Source: ColomboPage, Sri Lanka Internet Newspaper.
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