After years of putting pressure on the University of Cape Town to divest from climate-breaking fossil fuels, the university has at last formally launched its responsible investment panel (the University Panel on Responsible Investment, or UPRI) and approved a Responsible and Sustainable Investment Policy! The UPRI now has a formal website, here.
This is major progress indeed. But what now?
The panel has called for people to engage on fossil fuel divestment by 14 May. We invite you to engage by sending an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to the panel and expressing your support for fossil fuel divestment. We also encourage you to further support our Climate Emergency Investment Plan that was proposed at, and endorsed by UCT’s Convocation last December, calling on UCT to:
- Publicly acknowledge the climate emergency, and that it demands dramatic shifts in investment practices.
- Immediately divert R300 m from the R7 billion UCT endowment to new fossil free, socially responsible SA equity fund/s; and divest offshore funds.
- Work together with other SA universities and progressive investors such as philanthropies to foster further such funds.
- Commit to complete divestment over five years.
We believe the panel is keen to avoid greenwashing. Your strong and carefully crafted opinions in favour of divestment will help them make their case. They are up against asset managers (like Allan Gray) and advisers who consistently argue, for example, in favour of continued “shareholder engagement” with fossil fuel companies, when there is no evidence (1, 2) that shareholder engagement is effective in getting fossil fuel companies (like Sasol) to change their core business models.
This is a crucial moment in our long-standing campaign calling on UCT to divest. We would greatly appreciate your support!