UP TO 80% of declared global coal, oil and gas reserves, worth an estimated $22-trillion, should stay just where they are — in the ground, say businessmen turned activists David le Page and Robert Zipplies. The two are touring SA launching chapters of the newly formed Fossil Free SA.
The movement, which is calling on investors, especially institutional investors such as universities, to divest from fossil fuel, is a replica of one started in the US by climate change activist Bill McKibben. It has seen just more than 180 institutions and local governments across the world, and thousands of individuals, representing more than $50bn in assets, pledge to divest from fossil fuels.
An Oxford University study shows the divestment movement is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign, such as a 1980s and 1990s campaign aimed at ensuring divestment from apartheid SA.
“(Archbishop Emeritus) Desmond Tutu was one of the first global leaders to sign up to McKibben’s campaign. To him, it’s such an ethics issue — it affects the most vulnerable first,” says Zipplies.
Burning fossil fuel for electricity, heat and transportation is the largest human-induced source of “greenhouse” gas emissions, scientifically linked to the average overall rise in global temperatures.
“We are headed for (an average global temperature rise of) 3.5ºC to 5.5ºC by 2100, which is, to quote Kevin Anderson, ‘inconsistent with an organised global community’. It’s the end of society as we know it,” says Le Page.
Anderson is deputy director of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for