“Take money away from big corporates polluting South Africa’s environment and pour it into promoting clean energy.” That’s the call Fossil Free SA has issued through an ambitious R1 million campaign on Thundafund that hopes to halt climate change in the country.
Fossil Free SA, a group formed a year ago at the University of Cape Town, says it’s part of a global divestment movement set up in universities worldwide and aims to get private investors to divest in businesses that contribute to climate change and instead invest in causes dedicated to fighting it.
“We have to massively ramp up our response to climate change. Fossil fuel companies have proven reserves FIVE times higher than the amount we can safely burn to avoid a dangerous rise in temperatures. They have become rogue businesses and their profits depend on trashing our future,” Fossil Free SA says.
The group’s campaign on Thundafund wants to raise R1.3 million “to pay people for their time, give the campaign horns and expand nationwide”, which involves carrying out tasks such as doing research, collating information and expert input to support activists and administrators, providing support material and event planning.
A petition issued to the UCT vice-chancellor, council and joint investment committee, is calling on the university to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.
“The world’s investors – like UCT’s endowment fund – now face a choice: either invest in fossil fuels, and be complicit in what is increasingly recognised as a crime against future generations,” Fossil Free SA says. “UCT aims to be a centre of excellence in climate change research, and risks undermining its academic integrity if it continues to invest in companies and practices at odds with the conclusions of its researchers.”
The divestment campaign has a number of supporters backing their cause, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a national figure who is well-known for never shying away from criticising government and issues he views as injustices to South Africans.
Despite high profile endorsement, however, the Thundafund campaign has raised R17 400 of its goal in the two months since it launched and has 23 more days left before funding closes.