Thursday, 10 April 2014

Would You Take Advice from This Man? A Country Did, and they Ended Apartheid
Desmond Tutu to the World: “We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet.”*

Image: Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“We must stop climate change.
And we can, if we use the tactics that worked in South Africa against the worst carbon emitters”

~ Desmond Tutu, The Guardian, 10 April 2014
With the death of Nelson Mandela, a nation saw their Father of Freedom pass into the annals of history. But Mandela was not alone in his struggle against apartheid. Desmond Tutu’s efforts emerged as a loud and steady voice against the forces of freedom and inequality. They worked.

Now, Desmond Tutu is at it again, only this time, he is turning his voice to the cause of ending climate change. And his opening salvo was directed squarely at Canada and the U.S. who is as we speak:

“debating whether to approve a massive pipeline transporting 830,000 barrels of the world's dirtiest oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Producing and transporting this quantity of oil, via the Keystone XL pipeline, could increase Canada's carbon emissions by over 30%.”*

And, as he did versus Apartheid, he is calling on the people of the world listen and take action. Whereas apartheid was, it could be argues, a regional struggle, the negative impacts of climate change “affect the whole world, our shared world, the only world we have.”*

Citing his believe in “the only just response to injustice,”* Mahatma Gandhi’s passive resistance, Tutu suggests using boycotts, divestment and sanctions, as in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

“It is clear that those countries and companies primarily responsible for emitting carbon and accelerating climate change are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money. They need a whole lot of gentle persuasion from the likes of us.”*

So what does an Apartheid-Style anti-climate change strategy look like?

“We cannot necessarily bankrupt the fossil fuel industry. But we can take steps to reduce its political clout, and hold those who rake in the profits accountable for cleaning up the mess.”*

Tutu believes serious economic and moral pressure is needed. “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.” *

Here are some anti-climate change tactics taken from the pages of Tutu’s anti-apartheid playbook:
  • Boycott the events, sports teams and media programming they sponsor and/or produce
  • Demand energy company advertisements come with health warnings
  • Encourage universities and municipalities to cut ties with these companies
  • Organize car-free days
  • Build social awareness
  • Ask religious leaders and their communities to take a stand
  • Encourage energy companies to invest more in the development of renewables
  • Reward companies who invest in new clean technologies by buying their products
  • Install solar panels (and other renewable energy sources) where possible
Tutu suggests all this because “It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future.”*

On a bit of good news, the article suggests that “General Synod of the Church of England voted overwhelmingly to review its investment policy in respect of fossil fuel companies;” and, “colleges and pension funds have declared they want their investments to be congruent with their beliefs.”*

On another bit of good news, he suggests that young people are leading the charge on climate change and that “The fossil fuel divestment campaign is the fastest growing corporate campaign of its kind in history.”*

* From Desmond Tutu’s Editorial in The Guardian, Thursday 10 April 2014 17.00 BST;
Source: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/10/divest-fossil-fuels-climate-change-keystone-xl

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