Author: David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.

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…

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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 Facebook.com/JustEnergySA or Twitter.com/JustEnergySA. Or email Vainola Makan, vainola2 at gmail.com.

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.

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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.

HOW MANY ACTIONS CAN YOU TICK OFF?

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.

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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 https://goo.gl/t942Nd

Tweet: @OldMutualSA We are Ready to #DivestNow! Give us fossil-free investments for a safer climate & secure future https://ctt.ec/Vcf4o+

Tweet: @Stanlib We are Ready to #DivestNow! Give us fossil-free investments for a safer climate & secure future https://ctt.ec/Vcf4o+

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

Two new South African divestment commitments

We’re delighted to announce that another two South African institutions have committed to fossil fuel divestment.

Two Catholic organisations, the Archdiocese of Cape Town and Catholic Welfare and Development (CWD), have made these commitments as part of a larger coalition of 40 faith institutions on five continents.

As our partners 350.org note:

This is a big moment for both the global divestment movement and faith community, and we need to keep this momentum going strong. This commitment well and truly quadruples the one announced in May, when nine Catholic organizations divested. We need to celebrate it and also seize the opportunity to build upon this moment.

In the words of Domenico Sorrentino, the bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino:

“St. Francis (Pope Francis) encouraged us to live humbly, simply, and with true reverence for the Creator and Creation. Divesting from fossil fuels and making new investments in clean energy sources is our way of following St. Francis’s example.”

Pope Francis has prominently voiced his concerns about climate change and the fossil fuel industry. But while Vatican officials have acknowledged the call for fossil fuel divestment, the Vatican has not committed to divest its money from the industry that is destroying Creation — yet.

In the wake of this announcement, people from all over the world are uniting during the Season of Creation and urging the World Bank to stop financing fossil fuels and support for renewable energy instead. Please join and add your voice to the global call.

Now more than ever we need institutions to stand together on the right side of history against an immoral industry whose climate impacts we see and experience daily.

As we celebrate this inspiring show of moral leadership, let’s make sure the World Bank puts its mouth where its money is and stops funding the fossil fuel industry and climate disasters.

Another exciting dimension to this announcement is that no less than four African Catholic bodies are making divestment commitments: besides the South Africans, the St Patrick’s Missionary Society in Kenya and Sierra Leone Young Christian Student movement are, so far as we know, the first African institutions outside of South Africa to divest.

Further details

 

July community update – SA’s first big climate change court case, and Disobedience

IMG_4313We held our second community update for 2017 at 75 Harrington Street on Wednesday 26 July, with around 25 guests attending. (75 Harrington is a community hub and co-working space in the heart of Cape Town; our thanks to Steve Harris and his team, our hosts.

After we’d reiterated the basics of our divestment campaign, Christine Reddell, from the Centre for Environmental Rights, spoke about South Africa’s first big climate change court case – which saw our Minister for the Environment ordered to consider the climate impacts of the proposed Thabametsi coal power station in deciding whether or not to authorise its construction. The judgment confirmed that the information in the initial environmental impact assessment was inadequate for fully assessing the likely climate impacts of Thabametsi. The Minister is now obliged to consider a full climate change impact assessment, and public comment, before proceeding to authorise – or not.

CER believes the judgment will make it increasingly difficult to authorise coal power in South Africa, given their unavoidable impacts, our high levels of vulnerability to climate change, and the availability of cheaper, lower-impact alternatives (wind & solar).

The Thabametsi case is important to our divestment campaign because most of our big SA banks – Nedbank (the ‘Green bank’), Standard Bank, ABSA, and Rand Merchant Bank – are funding Thabametsi with our savings and investment,  despite most having proclaimed their concern over climate change. It’s also funded by the Development Bank of South Africa, supposedly committed to sustainable development, and the Unemployment Insurance Fund – which means that if Thabametsi is approved but later becomes a stranded asset, jobless South Africans stand to lose out.

We also screened the 350.org documentary Disobedience, which tells the stories of communities standing up against fossil fuels around the world – in the Philippines, the US and Germany in particular.

Cape Town to divest!

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille at a 2011 protest against the proposed 'Secrecy Bill'. Pic: David Le Page.

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille at a 2011 protest against the proposed ‘Secrecy Bill’. Pic: David Le Page.

The City of Cape Town has committed to divesting from fossil fuels! Tucked away in a recent statement about the City’s green bonds, Mayor Patricia de Lille added:

I am taking this a step further and I have informed our Finance Directorate that we are going to divest from fossil fuel assets and companies in favour of greener and cleaner investments which are in line with our vision of a sustainable future. We are going to instruct investors looking after our money not to put our money into fossil fuel-related companies or for it to be used to fund the development of dirty and unsustainable projects. We want our investments to be aligned with our principles of resilience and sustainability.

Fossil Free SA, together with 350 Africa, has been campaigning for the city to divest since late 2016.

Also, following up on our May workshop, we’ve published an oped in Business Day on divestment: ‘Signs are the climate is right for divesting from the fossil fuel industry’.

Come to Fossil Free SA’s next community event on 26 July, 5.30 for 6pm, at 75 Harrington Street, Cape Town, to find out more about how you can join the global movement to divest from fossil fuels.

 

Kevin Coldrey: A personal South African divestment story

KevinColdreyI am an economist by training and worked in the industry for almost a decade before making the decision to change career paths. I am currently furthering my studies, this time focusing on climate change and sustainable development. I hope to use my experience in the corporate sector to drive the change that is needed, looking for ways to incentivise behaviour change financially.

Between 12 and 18 months ago I decided to divest out of fossil fuel-based companies as best I could. I was at the time invested in a resources unit trust in SA, a general equity unit trust in SA, a private share portfolio of SA stocks, and two separate offshore unit trusts.

The decision was based on two factors:

  1. I felt it was my responsibility to contribute to a low-carbon future, and
  2. the returns that I was earning through holding shares like Sasol was being hampered by the commodity downturn; and my outlook for the global energy economy was, and still is, that we will never see the same prices for fossil fuels as we had in the lead up to the global financial crisis because I believe we have turned a corner in renewable energy generation.

My divestment process was hampered by the limited options available to retail investors but I did the following:

  • I sold my holdings in the resources and general equity unit trusts in SA (the general equity unit trust included significant holdings in the likes of Sasol, Anglo American, BHP Billiton, etc).
  • I sold my private shares in fossil fuel-based companies.
  • I kept my two offshore investments as I wanted to hedge my exposure to the Rand which I still believe is due for a further devaluation.
  • I invested in the Nedbank Green Savings Bond which is a guaranteed fixed investment vehicle where all capital raised is earmarked for renewable energy projects in SA.
  • I bought shares for my private portfolio that I felt were less carbon-intensive and where I felt that they were operating in industries that will become more important in the future such as water and agriculture.

If you have a personal divestment story to share with us, please get in touch.

May workshop for investors and fund managers: ‘Fossil fuel divestment: Fad, necessity or opportunity?’

Summary

On 10 May 2017, Fossil Free South Africa convened a workshop for financial services professionals in Cape Town on fossil fuel divestment. The aim of the workshop was to build awareness of climate and carbon risk – and the divest-reinvest movement – amongst financial services professionals, and to catalyse the creation of divested funds and instruments. Judging by broad responses, we succeeded in the first objective, but the second objective – creating new funds – will take a great deal more work, though hopefully the necessary conversations have started. (The background reading for this workshop appears here.) Some video excerpts appear here.

Presentations

Discussion

After the presentations, we divided into four groups for a deeper discussion of some of the issues that had been raised. The discussion was covered by the Chatham House Rule, and is observed in these notes. These are some of the broad points that arose: (more…)