Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Desmond Tutu Calls for Divestment from Fossil Fuels

Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  Click for photo credit.
I don't know if On the Brink readers have been following the movement encouraging divestment from fossil fuels (for background, see this link), but it was given a significant boost this month by Archbishop Desmond Tutu's call for organizations to divest from the fossil fuel industry.  You can read his statement here.

Many of us of a certain age remember the divestment movement of the 1980's focused on ending apartheid in South Africa.  Apartheid was an official policy of the government that kept non-whites from participating in many aspects of governance and limited non-whites to a distinct low social and economic class.  The fight against apartheid was one of the most successful campaigns to end human rights violations in the late 20th century.  It started at universities (Michigan State and Stanford started it first) and spread to a number of non-profits.  Money moved out of South Africa as a result of the campaign.  Plus the worldwide attention on the divestment movement shed light on the horrific practice of apartheid.  Overall, the divestment strategy contributed to the fall of apartheid in South Africa.

Today, the same strategy is being used for fossil fuels.  A worldwide campaign is underway to divest from fossil fuel industries.  In the past, some of these companies have worked to deceive the public on the science of global climate change.  Some are still engaging in climate change denialism. Many of us believe that we have just a few decades to solve the climate change threat.  That is why there is so much urgency to this issue.

The statement by Archbiship Tutu,  lends considerable weight to the divestment movement given his experiences with apartheid and his overall international reputation on issues of human rights.

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