On Wednesday 12 November, we had our first of several launches for the expanded Fossil Free South Africa campaign at the Mountain Club in central Cape Town. Around 80 guests gathered to hear Mpho Tutu, director of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, talk about her experience of the anti-apartheid divestment campaign of which her father, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, was a leader. She also outlined the profound injustice of climate change – that those least responsible for creating the problem are and will be most affected.
Anton Cartwright, the Mistra Urban Futures researcher at the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town spoke about climate impacts, the practicability of renewable energy as a replacement for ‘baseload power sources’ like coal and nuclear (it’s practical), and also passionately addressed the moral dimensions of the issue.
I (David Le Page) gave an in-depth account of the rationale for the campaign, and its international dimensions, Samantha Bailey gave the 350.org perspective and Rob Zipplies spoke about the nuts-and-bolts of our local efforts and fundraising, all of which are detailed on our Thundafund site. (Do contribute – we need funding to keep this work going.) An energetic question-and-answer session raised lots of issues and possibilities.
We certainly don’t have the answers to all the questions yet – a lot of research and work is still needed to clarify the possibilities for alternative carbon-free investments. But we’ve made a start. And one of our audience members has already drafted template letters that you can use to lobby either the UCT or other pensions funds for divestment! So please start firing off those letters.
Next week, Rob and I head off to host similar events around the country, starting in Bloemfontein and going on to Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban. Please do share the details of those events with your friends in those cities!
Many, many thanks to everyone who supported this event, whether as guests, registrars, lighting assistants or wine donors (thanks again, Spier).
It was a busy week for us… on Thursday, I heard 25 students at the Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurs at the UCT Graduate School of Business passionately presenting their research on the issue of whether or not UCT should be invested in fossil fuels. The forum was a debating club. There were dissenters who raised important questions and considerations, but most of the students are very much in favour of UCT divesting, pointing again and again to the university’s stature and claims to ‘values-based leadership’. Indeed, many seemed quite puzzled that UCT is invested in fossil fuels. Some interesting personal testimony came from a young man who had aimed to earn large amounts of money working on oil rigs, but had become disillusioned by the realities of the industry.