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April 19, 2016

Archbishop Tutu, Dalai Lama and 250 Other Faith Leaders Urge Action on Climate Change


A group of 250 faith leaders from around the world, including the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, signed an Interfaith Climate Statement, urging nations to sign on to the Paris climate agreement and called for scaling up ambition to combat climate change.

Leaders belonging to the Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim faith have signed on, “We as faith communities recognize that we must begin a transition away from polluting fossil fuels and towards clean renewable energy sources,” the leaders said in the statement.

Source: EcoWatch

January 31, 2016

Archbishop Tutu Endorses Three Nobel Peace Prize 2016 Nominations

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has endorsed three competing but complementary nominations for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination process closes tomorrow (1 February).

The three nominations are:

The Aegean Solidarity Movement, in acknowledgement of the compassion of the people of the Greek Islands in opening their hearts and homes to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn lands in 2015.

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November 29, 2015

COP21: Humanity’s Last Chance Salloon

By Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and the Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu. Original posted on The Desmond and Leah Legacy Foundation web site.

2503226863-milhares-de-pessoas-protestam-em-frente-torre-eiffel-durante-divulgacao-dos-resultados-da-cop-21We are in uncharted territory. Never before have representatives of the entire human family had the opportunity to sit down together and collectively change the trajectory of our species and our earth.

Leaders of the world’s nations gathered for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference this week will (for the first time in 21 years of United Nations climate negotiations) seek to achieve a universal, legally binding and enforceable agreement on climate change. Their goal is to limit global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Read More

November 25, 2015

Fighting the Climate Apartheid

At the end of this month, all diplomatic roads will lead to Paris for a global summit on the looming catastrophe of drastic and irreversible climate change. On its present course, man-made climate change will destroy the livelihoods of a quarter of the world’s people and hundreds of millions of them will be in Africa.

That being the case, one would expect African leaders to be seizing every opportunity to lobby and organise to ensure that the continent presses its case resolutely. Instead, there is an air of fatalism and despondency. Read More

June 14, 2015

Desmond Tutu & Trevor Manuel: Why tackling climate change is a moral and economic imperative

Nowadays, people are too often forced to choose between doing what is morally right and doing what is economically beneficial. Indeed, their options sometimes appear to be mutually exclusive, making the decision of which path to take exceedingly challenging. Sometimes, however, moral rectitude and economic interest merge, presenting an opportunity that must not be missed. That is the case – from the perspectives of this Archbishop and former finance minister – with the world’s response to climate change.

The moral imperative is indisputable, as the effects of climate change – including extreme weather, temperature changes, and rising sea levels – are felt most keenly by the global poor, who have also benefited the least from the economic activities that cause it. Moreover, climate change could accelerate poverty and inequality in the future, meaning that, unless we address it in a timely manner, it will diminish – or even eliminate – future generations’ chances to achieve their development goals. Making every effort to minimize climate change today is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

Fortunately, the economic benefits of addressing climate change are also clear. After all, climate change carries significant economic costs – for example, those associated with more frequent and extreme weather events. Moreover, building a “green” economy, based on continued technological innovation, is the smartest and most efficient way to create new engines of sustainable growth and job creation for the next generation.

Action at the individual, company, municipal, and national levels is crucial. But the fact is that climate change is a global problem – and thus requires a global solution. The most important tool the world has for doing the right thing – and reaping vast economic benefits – is a universal climate-change agreement. That is why world leaders must take the opportunity presented by the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December to develop a single global framework for action.

In fact, world leaders already pledged to do so. The UN Climate Change Conference in 2011 – initiated and hosted by South Africa – produced an agreement to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, no later than this year.

Important progress has been made since the Durban conference. Last month, more than 30 countries – including the European Union’s members, Gabon, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States – submitted their post-2020 plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In the coming weeks and months, this momentum will continue to build, as other countries – including, it is expected, major emerging economies like Brazil, China, and India – submit their commitments as well.

But if the Paris meeting is to be successful – in terms of both fulfilling the moral imperative and capturing the economic benefits of confronting climate change – every participating country must submit its national contributions for the period beginning in 2020 as soon as possible. Furthermore, the final agreement must include an effective and ambitious plan for de-carbonization over the next 50 years.

The fact is that short- and medium-term commitments alone are simply inadequate to fulfill the pledge, made by the world’s governments in 2009 and reiterated in 2010, to cap the rise in global temperatures at 2° Celsius relative to the pre-industrial era. It is crucial to create – and adhere to – a progressive long-term emissions-reduction strategy that sends a clear signal to capital markets that governments are serious about confronting climate change.

Such a strategy could include, for example, incentives for investment in low-carbon solutions. With some $90 trillion dollars set to be invested in infrastructure globally over the next 15 years, the impact of such an approach could be considerable – if not decisive.

The moral and economic imperatives to act on climate change could not be stronger. Although the road ahead will be difficult, with new and unexpected challenges arising along the way, we can find inspiration in Nelson Mandela’s famous dictum: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” We face an unprecedented opportunity to achieve a more sustainable, prosperous, and socially just future. Creating that future must start now.

Source: World Economic Forum

November 4, 2012

High Stake in the American Election

H2012 presidential election old on to your hats!  November is here. As we round the corner to what has increasingly deteriorated into a vitriolic and polarizing campaign cycle, it behooves us to step back and consider what exactly is at stake when Americans go to the polls this Tuesday, November 6th.

The US presidential election cannot be squarely pegged as a referendum on the performance of President Barack Obama’s administration over the last four years. Granted there is a deep rift between many policies endorsed by President Obama and Governor Romney, policy differences are just the icing on the cake of what is at stake in this year’s American election.

More profoundly, this election is about two candidates with fundamentally different philosophies about the role of the state, individual rights, and the global commons. The ideological incongruence of President Obama and Governor Romney, in turn, makes this election a zero-sum game where the stakes are particularly high for the losing party.

One fundamental issue on which the candidates are diametrically opposed is the appropriate function of the state.  Consider the contrasting interpretations of public versus private goods espoused by each presidential candidate.   Healthcare, education, and social security are generally considered public goods that the state is responsible for overseeing. Yet, President Obama and Governor Romney have vastly different views on the degree to which states should be responsible for providing these goods. President Obama passed a universal healthcare plan; supports increased federal funding for Pell grants, making education more affordable; and staunchly opposes social security privatization. At odds with President Obama is Governor Romney who vows to repeal Obamacare, advises entrepreneurial students to borrow money from their parents to kick start businesses, and chose as his running mate Paul Ryan, the architect of the most comprehensive plan to date to privatize social security.

Within the social sphere, the election has prompted debate over what constitutes pliable versus fixed social norms. Should rape, for instance, be viewed as an inevitable part of life? Should we, like Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, resign ourselves to the idea that rape is an act of God? Perhaps a reflection of the near historic gender gap in this election (according to statistical guru Nate Silver, President Obama holds a 9 point lead among women), social conservatives have also made this election about women’s rights. More to the point, they have made this election about restricting women’s rights, most notably by revamping efforts to challenge Roe v. Wade.

We should not lose sight of the fact that the consequences of this election will spill over beyond US borders. As a US student studying in the UK, this is all the more clear in the attention the US election receives in the news media and the interest in American politics by British people in general. There seems to be a common understanding that US elections matter, particularly since the US rose to become the world’s most dominant global actor after the Cold War.

Collective problems that transcend borders, such as global warming or terrorist cells, require international resolve and cooperation. While President Obama and Governor Romney have prioritized US interests in foreign affairs, both candidates differ substantially in their approach to global governance and, more fundamentally, on the sorts of issues they deem relevant. For instance, President Obama has been adamant about the need to restrict certain human activities that cause global climate change, while Governor Romney denies that global climate change exists, let alone that it is caused by human activities.

presidential election candidates 2012In sum, this November 6th is not merely a referendum on policy decisions made in the last four years. Rather, this election is about choosing between two largely incompatible philosophies that will have broad implications for the role of the state, individual rights, and our global commons. The stakes are high no matter how you flip the coin.