‘I ask UCT to examine urgently the extent of your investments in fossil fuel companies and to make a strong commitment to phasing them out as soon as possible.’ – Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, 2015.
‘Have the courage to tell business that it is not only about the profits but about our collective survival and wellbeing.’ – Former UCT Chancellor Graça Machel, speaking at the 2014 UN Global Climate Summit.
This page lists resources that we hope will be of special interest to members of the UCT University Panel on Responsible Investment.
- 9 September 2019 (2–5pm, Two Oceans Aquarium): Mission-aligned Investment Seminar: A prologue to the Financing the Future Conference. Book here.
- 10-11 September 2019: Financing the Future: the Global Climate Divest-Invest Summit, 10-11 September 2019 at the Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town, South Africa. Registrations are now suspended. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org directly if you would like to attend.
Recent climate headlines
- Arctic wildfires are spewing a soot and smoke cloud bigger than the European Union.
- 120 million people threatened by ‘climate apartheid’, says UN special rapporteur.
- The climate crisis is damaging the ability of the land to sustain humanity, with cascading risks becoming increasingly severe as global temperatures rise, according to a landmark UN report compiled by some of the world’s top scientists. (The Guardian, 8 August 2019)
- Arctic wildfires spew soot and smoke cloud bigger than EU: A cloud of smoke and soot bigger than the European Union is billowing across Siberia as wildfires in the Arctic Circle rage into an unprecedented third month. (The Guardian, 12 August 2019)
- MoneyWeb special report on ‘Sasol’s lack of accountability’: Since 2005 Sasol has failed to meet any of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets it has set for itself. Yet these targets have been revised upwards three times, with little explanation or acknowledgement from the company. (19 August 2019)
Vital background links
- Why UCT should divest from fossil fuels. These are the recommendations on divestment presented to the Institutional Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC) by the Fossil Free UCT campaign in 2018. We note that UCT is to be commended for being the first African university to adopt a responsible investment policy, but that the university can and should act more whole-heartedly. UCT should become a pro-active and visionary leader on issues of ethical and responsible investment. It must take specific, urgent measures (outlined below in our recommendations) to end its tacit support of fossil fuel corporations, and initiate divestment from fossil fuels. It should also address other ethically questionable investments, such as those in tobacco, while accelerating work to reduce on-campus environmental impacts. Please note the detailed recommendations made from p. 14.
- Outcomes of our recent events on climate risk for retirement funds (events well attended by representatives of the UCT RF):
- Bringing the Green New Deal down to campus level. Goldsmiths College in the UK has agreed to adopt a comprehensive plan to address not just divestment, but campus energy sources, waste, meat consumption, end single use plastics, phase out water and switch to chemical-free gardening.
- Daily Maverick article: Invest for the future, divest from companies that fuel the climate crisis
- Intentional Endowment Network case study: University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation – Applying an ESG Lens. Webinar recording.
- The scope of the global fossil fuel movement in 2018 is summarised in annual reports from Arabella Advisors. The 2018 report notes,
Today, nearly 1,000 institutional investors with $6.24 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuels, up from $52 billion four years ago—an increase of 11,900 percent.
- For ongoing updates on work in this space, we suggest subscribing to the newsletters of Fossil Free SA, Go Fossil Free, and the Intentional Endowment Network
Financial Times article: ‘Ethical investing has reached a tipping point’
Positive visions: The climate opportunity
Dealing comprehensively with the climate crisis arguably demands cultural, political and social changes that run far deeper than just dropping coal power in favour of wind and solar. Part of this is that the world needs to move away from an extractivist economic model towards a restorative economic model. This insight is beginning to inform political thought that links the danger of climate change with an opportunity to decisively address long-festering problems of inequality and social exclusion.
These are visions that do not dwell on the undoubtably immense challenge of learning to live in a world facing inevitable climate damage under even the most optimistic scenarios, but rather turn to figuring out how we can create robust, healthy societies that can cope with those challenges:
- The Green New Deal discussion has been under way for several months in the US. The single best formulation of the GND, the only one that is ambitious enough to match the scale of the climate crisis, has been proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
- However, Green New Deal thinking is also incredibly advanced in Europe, not least by the Diem25 cross-border political movement: European New Deal.
- If you’re not feeling like reading a long policy document, and would prefer a healthy dose of inspiration, rather watch this video: “A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” a seven-minute film narrated by the US congresswoman, illustrated by Molly Crabapple, and published by The Intercept.