The Fossil Free SA 2018 ‘Spotlight’ campaign

To promote our petition calling on South African asset managers to support fossil fuel-free funds, we’ve launched a social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram spotlighting some of the people and organisations that support this call. Please share these posts with your followers.

20 July

Marshall Rinquest from African Climate Reality Project is ready to #DivestNow from fossil fuels and invest in renewables. Are you? Take action now and sign the petition: (link in bio). We really value your signature and will use this petition to push for real change. Marshall Rinquest is an African Climate Leader, and director of Greyton Transition Town, part of the Global Transition Town Movement. They seek to inspire and empower our local communities to work together to achieve sustainability and resilience. Fossil Free SA and nearly 20 other organisations are calling on SA’s top asset managers – Allan Gray, Coronation, Investec, Old Mutual, Sanlam and the Government Employees Pension Fund to help us use our savings and investments to stabilise the global climate and secure the health of our people! Everyone wants a safer society and environment. So do we. It’s time to #DivestNow!

A post shared by Fossil Free South Africa (@fossilfreesa) on

18 July

13 July

Melita Steele from @greenpeaceafrica is ready to #divestnow from Fossil Fuels. Are you? Then head to the link in our bio. Melita is a senior climate and energy campaign manager at Greenpeace. She’s driving the campaign for a just transition away from coal and nuclear and towards renewable energy. Fossil Free SA and nearly 20 other organisations are calling on SA’s top asset managers – Allan Gray, Coronation, Investec, Old Mutual, Sanlam and the Government Employees Pension Fund to help us use our savings and investments to stabilise the global climate and secure the health of our people! Everyone wants a safer society and environment. So do we. It’s time to #DivestNow! Sign our petition (link in bio). 📸: @neobaepi

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11 July

Robert Armstrong: A South African fossil fuel divestment story

RobertArmstrongI work in the natural & organic retail industry, where we promote and offer products we believe lead to a healthy lifestyle. Our aim is to provide products and services that are healthy for people as well as for the planet. To do this, we try to source organically farmed or naturally sourced products, and wherever we can, reduce our carbon footprint.

As a conscious retailer, I decided to look at my savings/ share portfolio for ways to reduce my personal footprint further. I was also able to look at a family member’s portfolio, and unsurprisingly found that being a South African invested in the JSE, it was heavily weighted to mining and carbon-intensive companies like Sasol.

So, fortunately, after a conversation about the damaging impacts that companies like Anglo American, BHP, Exxarro and Sasol have on the planet, we decided to divest from these companies. And thankfully, resources like Fossil Free SA and help to inform and guide us on the problems and solutions to climate change. The question, then, was where should our funds be invested where we can have peace of mind that the vehicles/equities/bonds that were invested in were ethical and not damaging our environment?

The options thus far have been very limited in South Africa. We would love to see more offerings on the local market. For now, we have chosen the Nedbank Green Savings Bond as well as a small exploratory holding in the Sun Exchange (local) and Lend-a-Hand Ethex (UK).

Note: Our profiles of ethical South African investors are not intended as investment advice, but as inspiration for undertaking your own fossil fuel divestment and ethical investment journey. If you have a personal divestment story to share with us, please get in touch

Spotlight 25 July: Bishop Geoff Davies is calling for a secure, fossil fuel-free future in SA

To promote our petition calling on South African asset managers to support fossil fuel-free funds, we’ve launched a social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram spotlighting some of the people and organisations that support this call.

Wednesday’s posts featured Bishop Geoff Davies of the Anglican Church and Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute. Please share these posts with your followers and help us get to 5,000 signatures!

Petition calls on SA’s top asset managers to help citizens who want to fight climate change

Press release: Cape Town, 19 July 2018:– Fossil Free South Africa, the campaign calling for both institutional and individual investors to stop investments in climate-breaking coal, gas and oil, has with its partners launched a new ‘Spotlight’ campaign on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as collecting signatures on the ground at markets and events.

The campaign aims to increase support for its petition calling on SA’s biggest assset managers – Allan Gray, Coronation, Investec, Old Mutual, Sanlam and the Government Employees Pension Fund – to offer fossil fuel-free options to investors.

‘Over the past three years, the most profitable economic sector in South Africa has been financial services,’ said David Le Page, Fossil Free SA coordinator. ‘Yet despite their claims to being socially responsible corporate citizens, none of South Africa’s top asset managers are committed to helping citizens invest without doing harm. Most continue to invest in fossil fuels, and have not committed to supporting vital conventions on climate change, such as the Paris treaty. As Bill McKibben has said, “If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage”.’

‘South Africa is most vulnerable to climate change: most recently, 50,000 seasonal workers in the Western Cape have lost work as a result of the Cape drought, creating great suffering. We think it’s time that our top asset managers start making it easy for principled investors to stop investing in fossil fuel companies like Sasol. Europe, the US and Australia, amongst others, have well-developed ethical investment sectors, but South Africa lags behind.’

‘Our big asset managers protest that there is no public demand for ethical investments in South Africa, and it’s not financially viable for them to offer fossil fuel-free funds. We believe that in fact most South Africans, once they understand the issues, would far prefer not be invested in declining industries that are wreaking havoc with the environment. We call on our world-class asset managers to help investors and citizens who are committed to the vital mission of stopping climate change. And we welcome volunteers for profiling in this social media campaign.’

Fossil Free SA’s campaign partners include 350 Africa, the Centre for Environmental Rights, Greenpeace Africa, Earthlife Africa, SAFCEI, the African Climate Reality Project, UCT’s Green Campus Initiative, EcoMaties, GroundWork, Green Anglicans, the People’s Health Movement, SA Climate Action Network, Cullinans and Greenpop.

Emphasing that climate change is a major human rights issue, the campaign has been endorsed by and will profile the new secretary general of human rights organisation, Amnesty International, Kumi Naidoo.

For more information, please contact Fossil Free SA coordinator David Le Page at or +27845220968.

About Fossil Free SA: Our campaign grew out of an 2013 initiative to persuade the University of Cape Town to stop investing in fossil fuels. The university now has a draft responsible investment policy. With 350 Africa, we have also helped persuade the City of Cape Town to commit to divestment. Global commitments to divestment now span whole countries, such as Ireland, cities including New York, London and Paris, and funds worth over $6 trillion. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has endorsed the movement, saying: ‘People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.’

New research on the financial impacts of fossil fuel divestment

Our partners in 350 have shared some recent research on the financial impacts of fossil fuel divestment with us (thesis PDF,thesis summary PPT). This research was undertaken by Alison Shulz of the University of Kassel, Germany. It should be noted that the primary focus of the divestment-reinvestment campaign is on social impacts: discrediting the fossil fuel industry to remove their social license to operate. So financial impacts, where they exist, are in a sense a bonus. Here are some of the headline conclusions of the paper:

– The direct, short-term impact of divestment (if any)…

• Theoretically, a direct effect of divestment should result from limited risk sharing (Merton) and the fact that assets can only be sold at a discount (Miller)

• Empirically, announcement to divest from a specific company has no effect on this specific company’s stock price

• This effect is however present for coal firms which mainly operate in markets of the Global North

• Divestment announcements are found to have a negative impact on stock prices of the whole fossil fuel sector

• This effect is even more pronounced for financially motivated divestment and large divested sums

The long-term impact is still unclear.

It should be noted that this is an under-researched area. It’s our impression that this research does not include the likely additional positive impacts of capital which is diverted from fossil fuels directly into renewable energy or other ethical investments.

Fossil Free UCT campaign submits testimony on divestment to the UCT Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission

The aims of the UCT Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC) include making ‘recommendations on institutional culture, transformation, decolonisation, discrimination, identity, disability and any other matters that the university community has raised over the past 18 months, or may wish to raise in the future.’

In the light of this mandate of the IRTC, we offer a submission from the Fossil Free UCT campaign (which includes the Green Campus Initiative and Climate Action Project, supported by Fossil Free SA) arguing that the University of Cape Town needs to move quickly to ethical and responsible management of its investments. In particular, in the light of the massive human rights crisis posed by climate change, UCT must immediately adopt bold targets for ending its investments in fossil fuel companies.

Summary of recommendations

We note that UCT is to be commended for being the first African university to adopt a responsible investment policy, but that the university can and should act more whole-heartedly. UCT should become a pro-active and visionary leader on issues of ethical and responsible investment. It must take specific, urgent measures (outlined below in our recommendations) to end its tacit support of fossil fuel corporations, and initiate divestment from fossil fuels. It should also address other ethically questionable investments, such as those in tobacco, while accelerating work to reduce on-campus environmental impacts.

Continued inaction, especially as the divestment movement grows in SA, threatens to leave UCT looking tardy and unresponsive given how long it has been aware of the issues.

The full document, including detailed recommendations for action, can be downloaded here (pdf): Submission to the UCT IRTC from the Fossil Free UCT campaign


Divest Fest – local climate action


Glen Tyler of 350:– The first Divest Fest in South Africa wasted little time in getting down to climate solutions. A group of 18 people came together in Cape Town to learn and take action for fossil fuel divestment. The organiser, David Le Page from Fossil Free South Africa (FFSA) set the scene and underlined the urgent need for action by giving an overview of the threat of climate change – unfortunately a relatively easy job in a city that is experiencing a crippling drought.

I then outlined some examples of global divestment campaigns and the strategies and tactics used in those, and the successes that came from those campaigns – did you know that New York recently divested $390 billion worth of its employees’ pension funds? We then got busy with the good stuff – talking about how we can move the divestment conversation in South Africa forward.

It was fantastic to hear about the steps that the people there had already taken – from asking their finance managers about divestment, to buying into investment houses in order to ask them to divest. There are very few real options for people in South Africa who are looking to divest from fossil fuels, two such options are a basket of shares on the Easy Equities platform, and a fund put together with WWF, although this is still not a fully divested fund. One step Fossil Free South Africa is taking to change this is their petition, asking asset managers to offer a divested fund. If you haven’t signed it already, please do!

At the event, the participants wrote a joint letter to Sygnia asset managers, explaining divestment and asking them to offer a divested fund. There is a sense that once one such fund is offered, other asset managers will follow. It was fantastic to see real action happening, with participants writing to asset managers and institutions in their own capacity on the day.

We heard more from FFSA management committee member Mellony Sparks about the divestment landscape in South Africa. Her presentation led to a number of interesting conversations around the mechanics of investing and divestment, green jobs and the social repercussions of divestment, as well as other environmental issues that we could take into account when talking about divestment.

FFSA outdid themselves by providing vegan pizzas and raw chocolate fudge for lunch. It was a fantastic event, and already there are plans for future ‘fests! We hope you’ll join us at one!

Feel like you missed out? FFSA has a range of easy actions you can take on their website – check them outOur thanks to Glen for this summary of our event, and we include some of the feedback from participants below:

“Very stimulating questions and conversation! Really enjoyed it”

“I really appreciated the space: Connecting like minded people A quieter space would’ve been more pleasant or maybe just microphones. The seating arrangement could have been made more interactive”

“I think the content is so informative, necessary and interesting but perhaps adding elements of entertainment and having it later in the day could coax more people into joining.”

“A good session. Less jargon”

“You encouraged me to take action and get moving to lobby”

“I found the introduction to the cause and what you guys are going awesome. The practical approach to further our own campaign was also very cool.”

“It was a well informed group of people, so possible to take the conversation to another and needed level of detail that will inform advocacy action. Really important and thanks to organisers and contributors. Might be good to develop a basic alternative investor’s guide for divestors because most people just leave this sort of decision making to their advisors.”

Announcing our first-ever Divest Fest (24 February, 9.30am at 75 Harrington St, Cape Town)

Desmond Tutu: People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.

Welcome to 2018, and the slightly mad state of play in South Africa right now: Day Zero is rapidly approaching in Cape Town, while cities and institutions of the stature of New York and Lloyds of London (the world’s oldest insurance market) are divesting from fossil fuels – but South Africans still aren’t widely questioning why we allow companies like Sasol to continue pumping out enormous amounts of climate-breaking greenhouse gases without committing to science-based targets for reductions as genuinely responsible companies are doing.

So please save this date: On 24 February, Fossil Free SA, with 350 Africa, will be hosting our first Divest Fest, from 9.30am to 1.30pm, at 75 Harrington Street, Cape Town.

Click here to RSVP. Click here  to add to your calendar.

Divest Fest will be a morning of practical online climate and divestment action, with videos, mini-talks, brainstorming, and ample time to take practical action to push ahead fossil fuel divestment in South Africa (followed by lunch, possibly even with water!) More details to follow…

Bring your laptop or tablet, send us any suggestions you may have in advance, and let’s get stuck in demanding ethical, safe, low-carbon and divested investment funds.

And – if you haven’t already, please join the over-900 people who have already signed on to support our petition calling on top asset managers to create divested funds in South Africa.

Click here to RSVP. Click here  to add to your calendar.

Hope to see you soon!

David, Glen, Mellony, Ahmed, and the FFSA/350 Africa teams

Have your say on our energy future

1: Sign our Petition

Firstly, if you haven’t yet signed up to our Fossil Free SA petition calling for SA’s top asset managers to create fossil fuel free funds, please do so NOW.

Then, there are some key activities coming up in the next weeks for those who want to have their say in South Africa’s energy future, led by various coalitions, including the Campaign for a Just Energy Future, working to ensure that all South Africans have clean, safe, accessible and affordable energy.

2: Join public meetings and protests on Tuesday 21 November…


07h00–08h30: Protest against nuclear on the Roodebloem Road, Woodstock bridge into City.

09h30–12h00: Join the public observers when the Parliamentary energy oversight committee quizzes our latest energy minister on his dodgy plans. (Bring your ID to get into Parliament.)

14h00–17h00: Civil society leaders dialogue (Heinrich Boell Foundation,

3: … and Wednesday 22 November:

07h00–08h30: Picket in front of Parliament

09h00–11h00: Gather outside St Georges Cathedral

11h00–13h00: Political party public platform at St Georges Cathedral

14h00–17h00: Energy Justice protest at Parliament

For more info and updates from this campaign, please check or Or email Vainola Makan, vainola2 at

4. CPLO and Project 90 by 2030 discuss the Just Energy Transition

If you’re in Johannesburg on 28 November, you could join the Project 90 by 2030 Just Energy Transition Roundtable discussion on the topic of “Renewable Energy Jobs – The Reality and the Potential”. Please see this doc (pdf) for more details.

Divest Fest!

Our team is about to hit Rocking the Daisies, and this is what we’ll be asking festival-goers to do for the divestment cause –  here we list five quick ways you can take action right now to push South Africa towards a more safe and prosperous future and away from the deadly fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – that threaten our climate, our health and our savings.


Five quick and easy divestment actions (1–2 minutes)

Please work your way through this list of fast, easy actions.

ACTION: SIGN PETITION: Sign our “We Are Ready to Divest!’ petition: For a safer climate and secure future, tell the biggest SA investment managers – Allan Gray, Coronation, Investec, Old Mutual, Stanlib and the Government Employees Pension Fund – to offer funds divested from coal, gas and oil.

 ACTION: SIGN PETITION: Are you a University of Cape Town student, staff member or alumnus? Sign our petition calling on UCT to divest.

ACTION: SIGN PETITION: Are you a Stellenbosch student, staff member or alumnus? Sign Fossil Free SU’s petition calling on SU to divest.

ACTION: GET NEWS UPDATES: Sign up for the Fossil Free South Africa newsletter to get news and updates on our progress in divesting South Africa and abroad.

FF-logo SA Smallest.jpg

ACTION: DONATE: Become a once-off donor via Snapscan or register as a repeat donor to Fossil Free SA. Even just R20/R50 helps out. (You can read more about our young organisation here.)

And three Tweets!

Tweet: @Investec We are Ready to #DivestNow! Give us fossil-free investments for a safer climate & secure future

Tweet: @OldMutualSA We are Ready to #DivestNow! Give us fossil-free investments for a safer climate & secure future

Tweet: @Stanlib We are Ready to #DivestNow! Give us fossil-free investments for a safer climate & secure future

Keen for more? Click through to our full DIVEST FEST page.