UCT campaign updates

Pic: A placard reading UCT your house is on fire

Letters to the new Council in support of divestment have now been sent by:

  • two groups of UCT academics and students, centred on the faculty of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, and Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG)
  • two schools: Bishops Global Issues Network Club, Westerford High Green Schools Initiative;
  • four NGOs: 350 Africa, the African Climate Reality Project, the Climate Reality Project, and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute;
  • one company: Unlimited Energy; and
  • one individual, climate reality leader Roz Prinsloo,

In addition, a new petition for divestment from the Science Students Council drew over 900 signatures! We are very grateful for all your support.

We were able to present the case for divestment again, to the University Panel on Responsible Investment, on 21 October. We are happy to say that the response was largely favourable. But we are less impressed that the UPRI will only be sending recommendations to Council in September 2021. 

On 9 December 2020, for the third time we proposed and won a motion at Convocation calling on the University to divest, and specifically, to adopt a ‘Climate Emergency Investment Plan’. Our motion asked the University to:

… kick off the divestment process by immediately diverting R300 million, less than 5% of the current endowment, to seed-fund a new SA equity fossil-free and socially responsible investment fund or funds this year. Offshore investments can be quickly reinvested in more sustainable funds. UCT should commence the reinvestment process in collaboration with other progressive universities, philanthropies and retirement funds; and publicly declare this climate emergency investment plan.

Not only did the motion pass, but the Vice-Chancellor also indicated in the course of her comments that has indicated that the principle of divestment is now implicitly accepted within UCT management, and that the university has indicated it would like to collaborate with the Fossil Free UCT campaign and Fossil Free SA to work on implementation. We remain concerned about timing as the formal schedule of the university panel on responsible investment remains that recommendations on divestment from the UPRI will only go to Council in September 2021. Our motion called for that schedule to be accelerated.