Mission World - September 2021

Mission World - September 2021- Green boardfare and lawfare

Over recent years, religious and missionary congregations have been divesting themselves of investments in high polluting industries. However, some have chosen to hold onto sufficient shares to enable them to exercise a bit of green boardfare by voting at shareholders’ meetings and carrying out their advocacy for the health of our planet from inside the power bubble.

Maryknoll News in New York reports that the Maryknoll Sisters missionary congregation recently joined with a majority of shareholders (61 percent) of Exxon Mobil in approving a resolution requiring the oil giant to disclose its lobbying activities and explain how company goals align with those of the United Nations Paris Agreement (2015)on mitigating the effects of climate change.

Shareholders also voted two people with strong backgrounds as advocates of renewable energy onto the board of directors. Ethical Investment Services reports that one of them is Kaisa Hietala, who led the oil refining company, Neste, in a venture into renewable energy products.

Maryknoll also joined a successful shareholder resolution requiring the energy company, Chevron Corporation, to make deeper cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions, showing that their green boardfare is reaping results.

However, it is not only green boardfare that is finding avenues to affect change, but green lawfare as well. “Corporate America has shifted,” Maryknoll News reports, as besides finding success through shareholder advocacy, climate advocates are using lawsuits with some success to get fossil fuel companies and even governments to take climate action.

Lawsuits have been taken in the United States and Australia against governments for failing in their duty to protect their citizens by not taking sufficient action to provide a safe and sustainable future. 

The United Nations Environment Programme has published a review of climate-related litigation around the world detailing at least 1,550 cases in 38 countries, with the majority against governments. However, the number taken against corporate entities is on the rise.

Royal Dutch Shell has been ordered by a district court in The Hague to further reduce its emissions reduction target from the 20 percent planned by 2030 to 45 percent. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 17,000 Dutch citizens alleging that Shell had violated human rights, as its carbon dioxide emission reduction has been inadequate. 

It is not only individuals or citizen groups bringing lawsuits. state, county and municipal governments are suing corporations demanding compensation for expenses incurred in adapting to climate change. Advances in climate science are enhancing the movement, as causation and culpability for emissions are becoming easier to prove in court.

The Australian-owned Ampol Limited is teaming with the Irish Fusion-Fuel enterprise to have 50 percent renewables in its energy portfolio by 2030 and zero carbon emissions by 2040 in what they dub the “affordable green hydrogen revolution”. Green boardfare and lawfare experience shows there has already been a paradigm shift in the field, as the burden of responsibility is moving away from consumer choice towards the action of the industrial giants involved in the production of harmful gases.

This article was written on behalf of St Columbans Mission Society.

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Mission Intention for September 2021

We pray that we all will make courageous choices for a simple and environmentally sustainable lifestyle, rejoicing in our young people who are resolutely committed to this.

We ask your prayers:

The prayers of our readers are requested for the repose of the souls of friends and benefactors of the Missionary Society of St Columban who died recently and for the spiritual and the temporal welfare of all our readers, their families and friends.

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