We farmers are wedded to the earth. We till and we sew, we milk and we grow, trying to make a living from the land. We know the climate is changing because we see it now already, with seasons all mixed up and new records being set every year. We hope the powers that be will do something about it, but they don't. Instead we have Donald Trump promising to open up America's national parks to drilling and fracking. So what can we do about it? One answer is, we can divest.
This week Ireland passed a bill calling for state divestment from fossil fuels. The Dáil is now the first parliament to support a proposed ban on state investment in oil and gas. If the bill becomes law we will be setting a strong precedent for others to follow.
Independent TD Thomas Pringle, who presented the bill, said: "This principle of ethical financing is a symbol to these global corporations that their continual manipulation of climate science, denial of the existence of climate change and their controversial lobbying practices of politicians around the world is no longer tolerated. We cannot accept their actions while millions of poor people in underdeveloped nations bear the brunt of climate change forces as they experience famine, mass emigration and civil unrest as a result."
Divestment is a recent idea born out of the need for people to show corporations that they mean business when it comes to tackling climate change and social justice. From pension funds to stocks and shares, lots of people have money put aside for a rainy day.
Usually this money is invested in business portfolios, spread out across different industries. If one goes badly another might do well. It's a form of legalised gambling, with the hopeful investor acting as a punter while the broker is of course, the house. But because it's a controlled gaming hall with the stock market as a relatively stable back-drop, the investments usually do alright, until there's a crash at least.
The trouble is, these brokers are not fussy when it comes to where they invest the cash. All of our pension funds added up make a tidy sum. If we instructed our brokers to invest our money ethically, or better still, we use established ethical brokers, we would know our money was supporting sustainable projects that are benefiting mankind. This is divestment.
As the owners of the money, we can exercise our power of discretion by deciding not to support companies who deny climate change or who break labour regulations and/or environment laws. If enough people use their own wealth in this way, we will be changing the world's direction ourselves. Oil companies will run short of capital and renewables, already cheaper than oil at today's prices, will simply take over. This is one of the ways in which every ordinary person can use their personal wealth, however modest it might be, to effect a positive change in the world. Divestment is easy and as large clean energy projects turn over more profits, it is equally rewarding financially.
[image via National Geographic coal workers in India]