Standing for Standing Rock

image“The Earth does not belong to man; Man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”        Chief Seattle

Anyone who is concerned about climate change or human rights ought to be paying close attention to the Standing Rock resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline taking place right now in North Dakota.  Working for climate justice does not simply mean lowering our carbon footprints or sending emails to elected officials.  It also means joining together in solidarity with people who are most vulnerable to a changing climate and those who live on lands that are threatened and polluted by extreme forms of fossil fuel extraction, transport, and refining.  Such “sacrifice zones” are often on historic Indigenous lands.

Although most people know that this country is built on a history of land theft and genocide of Native peoples, relatively few realize that the historic assault on Indigenous lands continues today.  In the United States and Canada, this often takes place through the violation of treaty rights and the exploitation of Native lands by extractive industries.  Large corporations have repeatedly violated treaty rights by extracting resources and polluting traditional lands that sustained Indigenous peoples for millennia.

Members of  more than 150 Native American tribes have joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their attempts to block the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline.  The 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline would transport 470, 000 gallons of crude oil each day from the Bakken Oil Fields. Tribe members are concerned because the pipeline would travel below the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Reservation, and a pipeline accident could contaminate their water supply. Over 2,000 Indigenous people and their supporters have gathered there, and nonviolent protesters blocking construction are being arrested each day.

The United Nations has issued a statement calling on the United States government to ensure the right of the Sioux to participate in decision-making about the pipeline, since its construction would negatively impact their rights, lives, and lands. The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society and other religious groups have made statements in support of this action.  Here’s an article with background from the United Methodist News Service:  United Methodists, Native Americans Oppose Pipeline.

People around the country are sending money, transporting supplies, and engaging in solidarity demonstrations.  This climate justice struggle is ongoing.  Donate through the Standing Rock Sioux official website. To stay updated, visit and follow the Standing Rock Sioux Facebook page.   Democracy Now is covering this action on a daily basis.

In This Changes Everything:  Capitalism vs. The Climate, Naomi Klein wrote about the importance of supporting Indigenous struggles, such as the resistance taking place at Standing Rock.  She said, “Their heroic battles are not just their people’s best chance of a healthy future… they could very well be the best chance for the rest of us to continue enjoying a climate that is hospitable to human life.”

By taking actions in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux, we take concrete steps toward repentance for historical wrongs against Indigenous peoples, including wrongs perpetuated under the banner of the cross by institutional Christianity.  By supporting their Camp of the Sacred Stone, we respond to calls to respect the rights of Indigenous nations and the rights of Mother Earth, while acknowledging the value of Indigenous teachings and Indigenous ways, regardless of our spiritual convictions or secular beliefs.

Perhaps Chief Seattle was right.  Perhaps all things really are connected.

 

You are invited to sign up to “follow” this  blog and to “like” the Earth Justice Ministries Facebook page.  Updates on this action will also be posted on the Climate  Justice Action website and the Climate Justice Action Facebook page.

 

 

 

We Are Everywhere

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Sharon leading a climate Justice workshop at Roseville United Methodist Church.

Here I am, coming up from the depths of prayer, meditation, study, and writing.  These past months I’ve been focused primarily on writing my new book, Love in a Time of Climate Change, which is almost ready to send to the publisher.

Then in August, I spent three weekends leading workshops in Merced, San Rafael, and Roseville on “Climate Justice” for the United Methodist Women’s program of transformational learning, Mission U.  I had helped write the book for the class, and last Spring I had traveled by train to St. Louis for the leadership training.  The workshops I led emphasized that working for climate justice includes, but is not limited to, making simple lifestyle changes.  It also requires us to respond to the demands for justice from those who are living and working on the front lines of climate change, and whose lands and waters are threatened with pollution by extreme forms of fossil fuel extraction, transport, and refining.  It also means working to change the system that perpetuates climate change and so many other forms of injustice.  That’s why banners at climate justice demonstrations often say “System Change Not Climate Change.”

Just today, I had to add a few words to my book about the growing protest led by the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.  This, too, is climate justice action.  It is also history in the making!  The camp now includes 150 tribes and over 1,000 people.  A call for solidarity actions has gone out, and I plan to participate. Here is more information and a list of actions planned so far.

The courageous, Spirit-filled actions at Standing Rock give me hope.  I believe that the Spirit is active wherever people are taking a stand for people, for the earth, and for future generations.  And such actions are not just taking place in isolation.  As the title of a popular book on this topic says, “We Are Everywhere.”

 

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page.  

Support the Indigenous led movement to Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

#NoDAPL Solidarity             https://nodaplsolidarity.org/

 

 

 

Calls for Climate Justice in Paris

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Starting Monday, November 30, government officials, corporate heads, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) will meet for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) for climate negotiations, this time in Paris.  World leaders and other official summit attendees will be protected by greatly enhanced security because of the tragic terrorist attacks.  Civil society won’t enjoy such protection because demonstrations in Paris have been prohibited.  But around the world people will gather to pray for solace for the victims of Paris and other recent attacks, for the success of the climate talks, and for peace.  People around the world will also gather to demonstrate and call on world leaders to take strong action to limit the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

I was part of the United Methodist delegation to Rio de Janeiro in 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).  It was clear even then that environmental concerns could not be effectively addressed without simultaneously addressing poverty and inequity.  The governments of the world agreed in principle that “sustainable development” and justice for the poor were inseparable aspects of global action on climate change.  There have been many summits, but greenhouse gas emissions are soaring, global temperatures are rising, while poverty and inequity continue unabated.  People in poor and vulnerable nations, who are not responsible for historic greenhouse gas emissions, are being hit first and worst by typhoons, floods, and killing droughts.  These are the very regions where churches and other nonprofits reach out in compassion to provide relief to those who are in distress.  According to the National Council of Churches, USA:

“The impacts of global climate change threaten all creation and will make it more difficult for people of faith to care for those in need.  With expected increases in drought, storm intensity, disease, species extinction, and flooding, the impacts of global climate change will increase the lack of food, shelter, and water available, particularly to those living in or near poverty.”

Calls for “climate justice” are growing louder.  Negotiators from vulnerable, hard-hit nations are pleading with those in wealthier nations to take strong and binding action to limit greenhouse gas emissions now.  They are calling on world leaders in Paris to establish a just process for transfer of renewable technologies and payment of “climate debt.”  Young people whose futures are being foreclosed are demanding strong and binding action on climate change.  They are calling on negotiators to end fossil fuel subsidies and go beyond corporate-friendly systems of carbon credits and offsets, to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and to transform the systems that are causing climate change.

People of faith and conscience on every continent are calling for those who gather in Paris to establish justice for the poor and vulnerable, intergenerational justice, and justice for all creation.

We must give special attention to the voices of those who live and work on the front lines of climate change: climate activists from the global South, people living in “sacrifice zones” polluted by fossil fuel extraction, women farmers struggling to feed their families, young people speaking out for intergenerational justice, and indigenous peoples calling for policies that respect the rights of the earth. Together this rising chorus expresses the yearnings of people joining together in the growing movement for climate justice and “system change not climate change.”  Their pleas, demands, and warnings urge us to demonstrate God’s care and concern by praying and advocating for just policies on their behalf.

 

Locally Nevada County Climate Change Coalition is organizing a demonstration on Monday, November 30, related to the Paris talks and two prayer vigils on December 1.  To find out more about these actions or to keep up to date on local activities, go to the Nevada County Climate Coalition’s new website and/or “like our Facebook page.

 Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page.  

 Sharon’s other blog postings about climate change can be found here.   Order Sharon’s CD– Climate Change:  What Do We Know?  What Can We Do? or download a free MP3 version. 

 

Climate Talks–Rio to Paris

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Direct Action: Flood the System, Wall Street West San Francisco Financial District. I’m the one with the gray hair. This is where the young people are–where the action is.

I was part of the United Methodist delegation to the Global Forum in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the first major gathering of world leaders, nongovernmental organizations, and corporate heads to focus on climate change and related issues.  Now the world is preparing for the 21st such Conference of the Parties (COP 21).  The governments of the world are still gathering, still negotiating, still talking, yet greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating, average global temperatures are rising, and extreme weather events are breaking records around the world.

The climate talks will take place from November 30 to December 11, amidst demonstrations in Paris and around the world (including here in Nevada County).  In previous climate talks, world leaders have agreed to limit emissions so that global warming will be held to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels in order to prevent the catastrophic consequences that scientists predict if temperatures keep rising.  Demonstrators are organizing major protests because emission limits being discussed before the Paris talks will not hold warming to that level of 2°C.  Average global temperatures have already risen .8°C (1.4°F), accompanied by record-setting extreme weather events on every continent.

Meanwhile, calls for “climate justice” are growing louder.  Everyone will be affected by climate change, but people in poor and vulnerable nations who are not responsible for historic greenhouse gas emissions are being hit first and worst by typhoons, floods, and killing droughts.  They are calling on world leaders in Paris to establish a just process for transfer of renewable technologies and payment of “climate debt.”  Youth whose futures are being foreclosed are rising up to organize direct actions and demand strong and binding action on climate change.  They are calling on negotiators to go beyond corporate-friendly systems of carbon credits and offsets (which consist of trading polluting greenhouse gases), to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and to transform the global system that is causing climate change.  People of faith and conscience on every continent are calling for those who gather in Paris to establish justice for the poor and vulnerable, intergenerational justice, and justice for all creation.

Stay tuned to this blog for more on this topic in the next couple of weeks. Keep demonstrators and negotiators in your prayers.  No matter what the outcome in Paris, this struggle will continue, and I am sure that the God who creates the beauty of the world and who is the love in our hearts is working with us for justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page.  

To find out more about demonstrations in your area and around the world, go to 350.org’s The Plan Through Paris.   

Check out the Facebook pages of Earth Justice Ministries  and Nevada County Climate Change Coalition.for information about what’s going on in Nevada County or Northern California.

 

A Call for an Investment Screen on Fossil Fuels

Peoples Climate March in rural Nevada City, California, suffering from drought and  wildfires.  Photograph by Guarionex Delgado

Peoples Climate March in rural Nevada City, California, suffering from drought and wildfires. Photograph by Guarionex Delgado

A Call for an Investment Screen on Fossil Fuels

A Presentation to the United Methodist General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits by the Reverend Sharon Delgado, November 13, 2014

My name is Sharon Delgado.  I’m a retired clergy woman in the California Nevada Annual Conference.  I’m here today representing our conference Advocacy and Justice Committee.

I appreciate the work of this Board, which safeguards my pension and does the hard work of determining how our investments can be both ethical and profitable.  I appreciate being given this time to share with you about an Investment Screen on fossil fuels.

Thank you, Jenny Phillips, for your presentation on The Last Beneficiary, which gave an overview of this topic and of the Fossil Free UMC movement.

In June, the California Nevada Annual Conference passed a resolution calling for a consultative process with the General Board of Pensions and several Cal-Nevada boards and agencies.  The goal of this process is to work toward an investment screen based on the Natural World section of the Social Principles, and ultimately toward a General Conference resolution.

We hope with this “consultative process” to avoid conflicts with the General Board of Pensions that can result from unilateral calls for divestment.  Also, by calling for an investment screen we are hoping to avoid the legal pitfalls that can arise from divestment.

We know that the Board of Pensions is concerned about climate change.  We want to understand the perspective of Board leaders and hope to find a common strategy to address our shared concerns.  We want this legislation to be informed by various stakeholders, even if all stakeholders don’t agree on the content of the legislation that is developed.

So far, we have been in touch with Anita Green, the Board’s Manager for Sustainable Investment Strategies.  She has been frank and thorough in answering our questions.  We trust that that relationship will continue.

 Specific Requests

We do have two specific requests.  First, we would like a decision by the Board of Pensions about whether the Board is willing to engage in this consultative process.   Ms. Green said that she has gone about as far as she can with us and that we will need to bring in others for a more substantive conversation.   If the Board is willing to go forward with us in a cooperative two-way process, please delegate someone to work with us.

We also request at least three meetings, in person and/or conference calls that include representatives from Cal-Nevada and from the Board of Pensions–one in early or mid-December, one in mid-January, and one in February.  People from Cal Nevada can then ask questions directly, pose suggestions, and get feedback from the Board of Pensions representatives.

Shareholder Advocacy vs. an Investment Screen on Fossil Fuels

 So far the General Board has established investment screens related to human rights but not the natural world.  The Board dealt with environmental concerns through shareholder actions.  But this is not adequate in the case of climate change.  The threat of climate chaos and the unethical behavior of fossil fuel companies makes a screen for fossil fuels necessary.

Besides, it seems that shareholder actions with fossil fuels companies have had little or no effect in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).  For instance, some fossil fuels companies in our pension portfolios have set internal GHG emission reduction goals, but they do not report their goals or results.  These companies have no goals related to lifetime emissions of their products (oil, gas, coal).  In fact, just the opposite:  their goal is to sell and have consumers burn as much of their products as possible.

Funding Climate Change Denial and Lobbying against Climate Legislation

Many fossil fuel companies fund think tanks that promote climate change denial.  This stalls action and increases the risk of runaway climate change.  Some of these think tanks, like the Heartland Institute, worked with the tobacco companies to promote denial about the harmful effects of tobacco.  They are using the same strategy to cast doubt about the science of climate change.  I was told that “this has not yet been part of the conversation” within the Board of Pensions.

Many fossil fuel companies lobby directly and fund organizations that lobby government to block climate change legislation and international treaties.  The Board puts this topic into the broader category of shareholder action related to “political spending,” which is done mostly through cooperative action with other groups.  But blocking climate legislation is too important and the resulting harm too great for this kind of lobbying to be folded into the general category of “political spending.”

If we invest in companies that fund climate change denial and block climate change legislation, it reflects badly on the church, contributes to environmental and social harm, and increases the risk of runaway climate change.

Climate Change as a Human Rights Issue

Climate Change is not just an environmental Issue, but also a human rights issue.  On an international level, the African continent, island nations, and other vulnerable countries are calling for climate justice.  In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, the lead negotiator for Philippines fasted throughout the climate summit in Warsaw, while pleading for strong climate action.   The Typhoon killed 4,000 and displaced 4 million people.

In North America the treaty rights of Indigenous peoples are being violated, especially in Canada but also in the United States. This is what activated the Idle No More movement.  Indigenous leaders are calling for support in their struggles to prevent the pollution of the land, air, and water by dirty new extraction technologies.   All over North American, wherever there are fracking fields, tar sands, wetlands near offshore oil platforms, or mountains with their tops being blown off, there are poor communities and communities of color that serve as “sacrifice zones.”

Creating an investment screen on fossil fuels is one way we can take action on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our country and in the world.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you about these important issues.  We look forward to further conversations.  I hope we can find a way forward so that we United Methodists are practicing what we preach about climate change.

Stay informed and updated. Go to the Fossil Free UMC website or the Fossil Free UMC Facebook page.    For more general information about the movement to divest from fossil fuels, go to the Go Fossil Free website or the  Fossil Free Facebook page.   Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell FaceBook page.