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Tutu calls for boycott and divestment of fossil fuel industry

Tutu calls for boycott and divestment of fossil fuel industry

The Guardian:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for an anti-apartheid-style boycott and disinvestment campaign against the fossil fuel industry for driving dangerous global warming, just days ahead of a landmark UN report on how carbon emissions can be slashed.

In an article for the Guardian, the Archbishop writes: “We live in a world dominated by greed. We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth. It is clear that [the companies] are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money.”

Here’s an excerpt from his oped:

People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. We can, for instance, boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil-fuel energy companies. We can demand that the advertisements of energy companies carry health warnings. We can encourage more of our universities and municipalities and cultural institutions to cut their ties to the fossil-fuel industry. We can organise car-free days and build broader societal awareness. We can ask our religious communities to speak out.

We can actively encourage energy companies to spend more of their resources on the development of sustainable energy products, and we can reward those companies that do so by using their products. We can press our governments to invest in renewable energy and stop subsidising fossil fuels. Where possible, we can install our own solar panels and water heaters.

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.

How would someone who couldn’t give up driving a car, or traveling by airplane on business cooperate with the archbishop without feeling like a hypocrite?


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Jeremiah Sierra

I think that the fact that someone can’t give up driving a car is evidence that the problem is structural, which is precisely why I favor divestment. If we could stop climate change by choosing clean energy that would be great, but as you point out, we don’t’ have that option, and the fossil fuel industry doesn’t have much of incentive to give it to us (BP, for example, has reduced it’s clean energy investment recently). I think divestment is probably the best way to effect structural change quickly by pushing the fossil industry to change or shut down with bad PR and financial consequences.

My reasons for supporting divestment are more practical than moral, so I may be making a slightly different argument than Tutu. I do think that the fossil fuel industry has undue influence and has little incentive to change without a lot more pressure.

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