Remembering Late South African Archbishop Tutu's Climate Activism

While world leaders have praised anti-apartheid and peace activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his life-long advocacy on social justice issues from inequality, racism and homophobia, his work in advocvating against climate change should also be noted.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate became an environmental icon as the effects of global warming became more apparent, using his influence to hold governments and the fossil fuel industry to account while giving African youth climate activists a voice, writes Kim Harrisberg for Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In 2015, Tutu used his profile to gather nearly 333,500 signatures for a petition calling on then U.S. President Barack Obama, former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other leaders to set a target of 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Tutu's work also inspired University of Cape Town students to launch their own petition, asking the university to divest from fossil fuels and invest in sustainable energy. Since the petition handover in 2016 and further years of campaigning, this August the university's responsible investment panel recommended full divestment from fossil fuels by 2030.

Tutu was also a supporter of the Earth Hour movement, led by global green group WWF, which unites businesses, communities and individuals in turning off electric lights for one hour at the same time each year to save energy and raise awareness.


The late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (file photo).

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