Archbishop Tutu Calls For End Of Fossil Fuel Era

Statement from the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation – 18 September 2014

A matter of conscience, of faith, and of our continued existence

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has called on delegates attending next week’s United Nations Climate Summit in New York to take the first tangible steps to move humanity beyond the fossil fuel era.

“We are on the cusp of a global transition to a new safe energy economy, a transition that unites people in common purpose, advances collective wellbeing and ensures the survival of our species,” he said.

In a video statement posted on the website of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation (, the Archbishop describes the summit as a decisive moment in the struggle to maintain God’s earth – “a moment that demands unprecedented collective action”.

Noting that the most devastating effects of increasing global carbon emissions are visited on the poor, and that the climate crisis had become the global human rights challenge of our time, the Archbishop proposed a four-step agenda to free humanity of its dependence on coal, gas and oil.

(1) Freeze further exploration for new fossil sources, and use exploration budgets to develop renewable energy solutions;
(2) Hold those responsible for climate damages accountable by making them pay for the damage they cause;
(3) Encourage governments to stop accepting funding from the fossil fuel industry, and;
(4) Divest from fossil fuel companies, and invest in a clean energy future that benefits the world’s majority.

“The United Nations deserves the highest kudos for its leadership over the past 30 years on crucial human rights and developmentalissues,” Archbishop Tutu said.

But the UN could only be as powerful as its constituent parts – nations and people. Its capacity to take tangible action was entirely dependent on the will of individual governments and leaders who felt genuinely torn between short-term economic and political pressures, and long-term survival.

“We can no longer tinker about the edges. We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow. For there will be no tomorrow…

“My prayer is that humankind takes its first tangible steps in New York, in September 2014, to move beyond the Fossil Fuel Era. It is a matter of conscience, a matter of faith, and indeed, a matter of our continued existence,” Archbishop Tutu said.