Detroit Climate Strike targets gas and electric utility DTE Energy

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By Detroit FW Staff

On Friday, Dec. 6, the Detroit Climate Strike took place as part of globally coordinated climate strikes demanding that governments address the increasingly severe climate and environmental crisis. The global climate strikes took place while representatives from nations around the world met in Madrid, Spain, at the 25th annual UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 25). The Detroit Strike was initiated by the Detroit Sunrise Movement and supported by more than a dozen local groups.

The Detroit Climate Strike targeted DTE Energy, the investor-owned regional electric and gas monopoly, for its failure to adequately address the climate crisis while it continues to raise monthly utility bills. In fact, DTE has recently sought to increase its rates, despite its failure to maintain and upgrade a decaying energy grid that is reportedly 40 years beyond its useful life, according to a recent article in the Metro Times.

The Detroit action’s call to action demanded that DTE eliminate the production of electricity using increasingly costly fossil fuels by the year 2030 and that it replace the coal and natural gas power plants with affordable wind and solar energy. In addition to being a gross emitter of global warming greenhouse gases, DTE also contributes to dangerously poor air quality in Detroit, particularly in the 48217 zipcode, which has the highest asthma rates in Michigan. The call to action stated that:

“7 percent of deaths in Wayne County are attributable to pollution associated with combustion of fossil fuels. We suffer from asthma attacks, cancer, and heart disease.” link

The call also demanded an end to utility shutoffs and community control of DTE.

The Detroit Climate Strike began with a rally at Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit, where speakers called for immediate changes to the system.  It was followed by a march to DTE headquarters where a die-in was held that highlighted the many ways that DTE harms and kills people, from utility shut offs to poisoning of Mother Earth. It was significant that all of the speakers were from communities of color and many were young as well.

After the climate action, activists gathered at the Moratorium NOW! Coalition office for a viewing and discussion of the film “EVEN the RAIN”, an award-winning film about the Cochabamba Water War in Bolivia at the beginning of this century.  EVEN the RAIN illustrated the struggle of the people of Bolivia against the privatization of water, including the privatization of the rain! It is the story of two filmmakers who travel to Bolivia to shoot a film depicting Christopher Columbus’ conquest, but wind up in the middle of the Cochabamba Water War of 2000. That real life struggle led to a victory for indigenous Bolivians, and occurred several years before the election of Evo Morales.

According to the event organizers:

The film has striking relevance at this very moment, because Bolivia is now suffering from the results of a violent right-wing coup. Anyone interested in the rights of indigenous people, democracy and socialism around the world, sustainability, and the rights of people to have and benefit from their own natural resources, should see this film!

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