Today is World Water Day – a day to remind us of the importance of freshwater and a call for action to tackle the water crisis. Over the past couple of weeks, water has entered the spotlight in Sweden after the country’s Geological Survey issued a stark warning about a looming water crisis this summer.
Groundwater levels are so low that the government agency believes freshwater supply in almost half of the country is at risk this summer.
Climate change now threatens water supply in a country where access to safe water is taken for granted.
Scientists have predicted worsening water shortages like those already experienced in southeastern Sweden last summer. More droughts and less snow – which diminishes the spring snow melt that used to replenish groundwater – have led to water levels dropping dangerously low.
Ironically, intense rain storms on dry soil that can’t absorb such large amounts of water can then lead to both water shortages and flooding. In addition, rising sea levels heighten the risk of salt water from the Baltic Sea intruding into freshwater sources.
So far, Swedish media have largely presented the crisis as a natural disaster of sorts and focused on technological remedies to deal with the situation. They have mostly failed to acknowledge that this crisis is man-made. While they focus on ways to desalinate seawater they’ve neglected the need to tackle the root cause of the crisis — climate change.
Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right that is severely violated by climate change – and we know that the coal, oil and gas industry is the main culprit. Fossil fuel companies are the most responsible for Sweden’s looming water crisis. They also threaten people’s right to water around the world – especially where people have contributed least to climate change.
Fossil fuel companies have caused most greenhouse gas emissions. They’ve used their lobby power to block climate action at every level. They’ve financed large-scale campaigns to deceive the public on climate change. And they continue to invest billions to find and exploit ever more fossil fuels – even though their existing operations already hold more carbon than can ever be released to prevent irreversible and catastrophic changes to our climate.
The business plan of the fossil fuel industry is in no way compatible with a safe climate – and neither are investments in these companies by our cities, universities and other public institutions.
During Global Divestment Mobilisation from 5-13 May, we will show who is behind the water crisis in Sweden and the many, many other devastating impacts of climate change that already affect people around the world.
We will throw a spotlight on the connections between these impacts and our institutions’ investments. We will expose these companies for what they are in order to continue eroding public trust in them. With their image in tatters, they will no longer have the political power or social license necessary to carry out their rogue business plans and fry the planet.
There are already over 80 Global Divestment Mobilisation events planned on five continents. Be a part of it – find an event near you or start your own!