Tutu: Climate Crisis Demands we Boycott Big Oil just as we Boycotted Apartheid

(By Jon Queally)

Nobel laureate says ‘people of conscience’ must break ties with oil and gas companies that are destroying planet’s future.

Archbishop of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu is saying their is no longer any excuse for not doing everything humanly possible to fight climate change and called on Thursday for an international "anti-apartheid-style boycott" against the fossil fuel industry.

In a striking essay and call to action in the Guardian newspaper, Tutu writes: "People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change."

"It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. 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." —Desmond Tutu

As examples, Tutu said people can and should boycott events, sports teams and media outlets sponsored by oil and gas companies. He also touted divestment by municipalities and universities have broken ties with the industry and called for public health warnings against products associated with the carbon-reliant economy.

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

The Guardian's environment correspondent Damian Carrington reports:

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.

The research showed past divestment campaigns succeeded by stigmatising their targets – which Tutu calls "moral pressure" – as well as exerting financial pressure. 

"It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future," concluded Tutu in his missive to the world. "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."

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Mirrored from Commondreams.org

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Related video:

350.org: “Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Divestment”

3 Responses

  1. Archbishop Tutu should make the same argument on “Meet the Press” the next time politicians and media figures talk up the economic rewards of the Keystone pipeline like they did last Sunday.

    There wasn’t a naysayer in the bunch.

    A hundred dollars to a half eaten apple says Obama gives Keystone his thumbs up right after the midterms. John Kerry will say it was a tough decision but we had to do it for NATIONAL SECURITY REASONS. Then, he’ll mention 9/11 and “VLAD THE BAD.”

    “Archbishop Tutu doesn’t have to wake up at 3am and worry about Putin sending thousands of Russia troops into Ukraine.” Building the Keystone pipeline will mean energy for all our friends in Europe and Ukraine.” John Kerry

  2. Even if such a Boycott Fossil Carbon movement is not quickly effective, it can be an organizing motivator for many people over time. Those people can begin to discuss parallel solutions and approaches to run concurrently with the BFC effort.

    Perhaps the role of human support of plantlife all over the above-sea-level earth may also be considered. Much carbon has been gassed from soil into the sky over the last couple centuries. Can managing land guided by new knowledge start a process of plantlife/soil carbon restoration sufficient to suck some of the excess carbon back down out of the sky and re-store it in millions of square miles of plants and soil-under-plants?

    • One wonders if it’s way too much easier to slash and burn, dig and strip, extract and externalize, than to husband and steward and pay forward. One looks at the video record of various “sustainable ecology and agriculture” projects, e.g.,link to sustainableforestgardenfarmproject.weebly.com that depend on a long chain of persons with aligned perceptions and motivations to carry life forward, and then at time-lapses of predations like killing the rain forests and “tar sands” extractions, link to climatestate.com, and one has to wonder, and maybe pray for divine and human intervention, but be just a little bit pessimistic, that the real Takers will inevitably, with all their busy profit- and rent-seeking, and skills at making their activities “legitimate” and “legal,” or at least immune to correction, overwhelm and strip the landscapes that “stewards” work so hard to create and maintain…

      What’s a tree really worth? Depends, I guess… This, link to timberbuyer.net, versus maybe this: link to skeptics.stackexchange.com

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