When Politics and Business-as-usual Fail to Act…

October 5, 2015

During Pope Francis’ much heralded visit to the U.S. last week, he gave top priority to the pressing issues of economic disparity and injustice, and the threat that climate change poses to humanity and to the planet.  In his speeches before Congress and again at the United Nations, Pope Francis urged world leaders to take the threat of global warming seriously and to act quickly to take steps to reduce the greenhouse gases that contribute to this crisis.   He also talked about the ways in which climate change disproportionately affects the poor and reminded us that those of us in the North need to shoulder the burden of responsibility to address this crisis.
“Very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system,” he writes in his June 18, 2015 Encyclical “Laudato Si.”  “This problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels.”  He goes on to say, “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”  And finally, on page 122, he writes:  “We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay…. Politics and business have been slow to react in a way commensurate with the urgency of the challeng­es facing our world.”  
Politics and business (as usual) have indeed been slow to react.  And this is why it is up to us…. progressive businesses, workers, activists, engaged citizens…  We know from history that change happens from the bottom up and that vested interests (in this case, the fossil fuels industry) never willingly give up power or their economic interests.
Equal Exchange has joined a growing number of organizations that are working to build a citizen movement to stand up to these interests and say No to the fossil fuel economy and yes to a clean energy future.  Just like the apartheid movement and the anti-tobacco movement, thousands of voices (and our dollars) can make a difference.  Click here to read about our Climate Justice Initiative and please click here to add your name to the thousands of people taking the Divest-Invest pledge.
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