Desmond Tutu and IPCC call for disinvestment


‘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

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for an anti-apartheid-style boycott and disinvestment campaign against the fossil fuel industry. Writing in the Guardian, the Nobel peace prize winner says that it is still possible to stop dangerous climate change, and that we each have a responsibility to play our part in doing do. This responsibility, he says, begins with God’s commandment to us ‘to till and keep’ the Garden of Eden. ‘To keep it; not to abuse it, not to destroy it.’

Tutu writes, ‘Throughout my life I have believed that the only just response to injustice is what Mahatma Gandhi termed “passive resistance”. During the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, using boycotts, divestment and sanctions, and supported by our friends overseas, we were not only able to apply economic pressure on the unjust state, but also serious moral pressure.’

‘People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change … 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.’

He acclaims the fossil fuel disinvestment campaign as ‘the fastest growing corporate campaign of its kind in history,’ and commends the General Synod of the Church of England for voting overwhelmingly to review its investment policy in respect of fossil fuel companies.

This call is backed up by science. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says investment in fossil fuel extraction and power plants needs to fall by $30bn a year until 2030 and investment in low-carbon electricity supplies will have to rise by $150bn a year to have a good chance of limiting global warming to below 2°C. There must also be an increased investment in energy efficiency by several hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

Let’s heed this call. You can sign our petition to the Church of England calling for disinvestment from fossil fuels.

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by Ruth Jarman, Operation Noah Board member