LTE: A Response to “Former President of Ireland Talks Climate Justice and Human Rights” – Matthew Barad gets in the Heights

Our own Matthew Barad submitted a Letter to the Editor about a lecture Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and long-time climate advocate, gave on BC’s campus last week. He was published by the Heights, a Boston College paper. See his letter here and the full transcript below.


On March 13th, former Irish President Mary Robinson spoke in front of a crowd of Boston College students, faculty, and community members about the necessity of ethical leadership and of civic action. Retelling her own story, President Robinson demonstrated how a life of principled activism and responsible leadership can improve our world in very real ways. She never aspired to the presidency, nor towards any real power. Instead, it was a series of morally upright actions and passionate pleas for justice that paved her path to eminence.

This story was not told simply to inspire abstract civic duty, but rather to demand that the Boston College community further the cause of justice. Specifically, President Robinson asked that Father Leahy’s administration take steps to divest from fossil fuels. President Robinson asked that all those who would protect the climate to start actively working to defend it. From her speech, it became clear that passive support for divestment and environmental protection should no longer be tolerated. Instead, we must demand the active and aggressive defense of our planet.

While President, Mary Robinson worked towards Ireland’s divestment from fossil fuels — something which has now become a reality– and later served as the United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change. In both offices, President Robinson recognized that human rights issues are deeply connected with climate change, and that communities across the world suffer when we continue to use fossil fuels. Therefore, investing in fossil fuel companies is not only foolishly shortsighted, but morally egregious. With Boston College’s sister school, Trinity College, selling its holdings in fossil fuels just last year on those same grounds, it is hard to imagine that Leahy’s administration has a defensible ethical or economic argument for maintaining its support of fossil fuels. From President Robinson’s speech, it was clear that she viewed Leahy’s refusal to divest as an affront to environmental justice, human rights, and indeed, to Boston College’s own stated mission of social responsibility.

If we are to learn anything from the wisdom shared by President Robinson, it should be that the era of apathetic consent must now come to an end. In her both her stated opposition to our administration’s current policy, as well as in her life’s work, it is plainly obvious that we have an obligation to demand divestment from fossil fuels. Organizations like Climate Justice at Boston College have worked towards this goal for nearly five years only to be met with silence, and this impassioned plea of such a respected and successful political figure ought to spark a resurgence in the fight for divestment. Put simply: We are faced with a crisis, and on March 13th, a former president told us exactly what to do about it.

Written by Matthew Barad, Class of 2020 and member of Climate Justice for Boston College.


Stand with Standing Rock: Environmental Racism in the Fossil Fuel Industry – Thursday 12/8/16

Thurdsday at 4:30pm on the O’neil plaza we will hear from Chief Sâchem Wômpimeequin Wampatuck of the Mattakeeset Tribe of the Masssachuset Nation. Come join us to stand in solidarity with the people at Standing Rock fighting the extremely controversial and dangerous Dakota Access Pipeline and reflect on the repeated environmental injustices done to Native American tribes. Despite the recent victory, the fight is far from over. We cannot sit down or give up. Climate Justice @ BC still stands with Standing Rock!15268085_617170775130055_9037044117739056727_n

International Solidarity: When the Impacts of Climate Change aren’t in My Backyard

Climate Justice @ BC presents a weeklong series of events focusing on how climate change’s impacts are unevenly distributed around the globe. Many developing countries face some of the worst impacts of climate change even while contributing almost nothing to carbon emissions, and other more developed countries contribute huge and increasing amounts to carbon emissions even while retaining a lower quality of life. There are many examples of this injustice as climate change disproportionately impacts the poor and people of color around the globe. In collaboration with the Chinese Student Association, the South Asian Student Association, and Eradicate Racism, Climate Justice at BC seeks to educate the student body on this environmental injustice as well as to create international solidarity on campus for action on climate change.

Check out our events this week!

Tuesday, Dec 6th at 8pm in Fulton 250: Panel on CHINA AND INDIA: The 2nd WORLD OF CLIMATE CHANGE @ 8pm in Fulton

Thursday Dec 8th at 4:30pm on O’neill Plaza: Stand with Standing Rock: Environmental Racism in the Fossil Fuel Industry

Friday Dec 9th from 10am-3pm in O’neill Plaza, Interactive Art display: How Your Carbon Footprint Contributes to Sea Level Rise