Divest Wits

Let’s persuade Wits University to be a true climate leader

This page will host resources and materials relating to efforts to persuade Wits University to become a true climate leader, by:

  • Committing itself fully to a just transition to a zero carbon economy and climate justice for South Africa, not least by committing to a path for divestment from climate-breaking fossil fuels, as have hundreds of other universities around the world, including Oxford and Cambridge.
  • Ending activities that fund or facilitate the fossil fuel economy.

This campaign is supported by Fossil Free SA.

Wits Great Hall. Pic: Wikipedia.

Check back here soon for:

  • A forthcoming letter asking the Wits Council to commit the University to climate justice, including divestment from fossil fuels.
  • Your chance to sign on to that letter as a Wits student, staff member, alumnus or other stakeholder.
  • Background document outlining details of this letter and proposal.

 

Background

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits) is a multi-campus South African public research university situated in the northern part of central Johannesburg.

The university, originally called the South African School of Mines, has deep roots in the country’s mining industry, an industry that has been a pillar of the country’s economy, but arguably also made South Africa a part-victim of the resource curse, with extraordinarily high economic inequality, corruption, environmental degradation, health crises and social stress. 

Wits’s current links to the coal industry include :

  • Hosting so-called Clean Coal Technology Research (there is no such thing as clean coal)
  • Hosting the Exxaro-sponsored ‘Global Change and Sustainability Chair’ at the Global Change Institute.
  • Like other SA universities, likely investments in fossil fuel companies via the university endowment and staff pension funds.

Given these roots and links, there would be immense significance to the adoption of a whole-hearted climate leadership policy by the University.

In the media

‘Wits in a climate hot spot’, 16 April 2021, Mail & Guardian.