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Tutu calls for ‘anti-apartheid’ type action

Tutu calls for ‘anti-apartheid’ type action

Apr 15, 2014

In an essay that has struck a chord with both individuals and industry after publication by The Guardian, South Africa’s Archbishop emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu urges “people of conscience to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change”.

Tutu’s essay said “there is no longer any excuse for not doing everything humanly possible to fight climate change” and called for an international “anti-apartheid-style boycott” against the fossil fuel industry.

Examples of action suggested by the Archbishop include people boycotting “events, sports teams and media outlets sponsored by oil and gas companies” and called for public health warnings on products linked to carbon-reliant economies.

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

According to The Guardian’s environment correspondent Damian Carrington, “the Archbishop’s intervention, timed ahead of Sunday’s UN report, is the strongest yet in a rapidly growing global campaign against oil, gas and coal companies that is uniting campaigners against global warming with major financial institutions seeking to avoid a trillion-dollar crash in fossil fuel stocks.

“A leaked draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states investment in fossil fuels must start falling by tens of billions a year to avoid dangerous levels of warming.

“The good news, according to Tutu, is that a divestment campaign is already underway, having started 18 months ago in the US. Since then, it has grown even faster than those that targeted apartheid, tobacco and arms manufacturers, according to research from the University of Oxford.”

Archbishop Tutu concluded his essay by saying: “To serve as custodians of creation is not an empty title; it requires that we act, and with all the urgency this dire situation demands.”

As more people become aware of the dangers of living in carbon-reliant economies, it would appear that encouraging individuals to take a stand with regard to which companies they choose to support could make a vital difference. As with apartheid, a groundswell of action from individuals banding together to withdraw their financial support wherever possible may be the catalyst in getting investors to rethink their fossil fuel stocks.

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