ACE is proud to partner with 350 Massachusetts and the Better Future Project for the Divest MA campaign, calling for divestment of Massachusetts state pension dollars from fossil fuels. This is a guest blog post by ACE Action Fellow Peter Diamond about his experience testifying for divestement.
Until recently, I don't think that I did as much as I could to acknowledge the way that climate justice intersects with my other passions, such as equality in health care, prison abolition, and the decriminalization of sex work. That said, in high school, when I began to see the presence of climate justice advocacy in social justice spaces, I realized that the link between climate justice and social justice is inextricable. That's why I joined the Alliance for Climate Education's Action Fellowship during the 2014-2015 school year, in my home, the Boston area.
In addition to (and often through) the ACE Action Fellowship, I have been active in Boston politics campaigning for the divestment of our state pension funds from the fossil fuel industry. I have lobbied in the offices of state representatives alongside other Action Fellows as well as members of 350MA, and recently, I had the opportunity to address the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Service when it was hearing testimonies regarding state divestment. My testimony was filmed, and you can watch the video of it below!
Participating in pro-divestment activism in Boston specifically is important to me. Massachusetts has been a leader in movements to divest from oppressive institutions. Its leadership in divesting from the tobacco industry helped empower lawmakers to place regulations. Its leadership in divesting from those who were profiting off of apartheid inspired a global stigmatization of an oppressive system, as Nelson Mandela acknowledged in his 1990 visit to Boston.
It took me a while to see this movement as a moral equivalent, but I have come to the conclusion that it is. It's a public health risk. A grave racial injustice. A threat to everyone who needs freedom and equality globally.
There are a number of movements that I take part in right now. Next year, I will attend Oberlin College in Ohio, where in addition to concentrating in environmental studies, I hope to study public health and to participate in campaigns in Cleveland and beyond to replace the prison system and to decriminalize sex work. There are so many fights to be fought, but the reason that I will continue to push for climate justice in Boston and beyond is that those who are fighting for their freedom—incarcerated folks, sex workers, and others who face injustice and systemic violence—need a safe climate to do that in.
In my testimony, which is accessible here, I discuss financial reasons that divestment makes sense, but at the heart of it is a social justice imperative: this Commonwealth cannot truly promote freedom until we stigmatize those who profit off of the lack thereof, such as the fossil fuel industry.