The City of Cape Town formally announced its intent to divest from fossil fuel assets in June 2017 – which makes Cape Town the first city in South Africa and the global south to commit to divestment from fossil fuel holdings. The commitment made by mayor Patricia De Lille came soon after civil society partners publicised a campaign targeting Cape Town to divest and was announced jointly with the city’s issuance of a R1 bn green bond, which was well received by the market demonstrating that there is great appetite by investors to ‘channel money into greener and cleaner projects which are in line with the city’s vision of a sustainable future’.



The City of Cape Town followed a precedent set by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, The Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation and over 500 institutions, universities, faith organisations, foundations and cities around the world that have stood steadfast in decrying that not a single cent of theirs will be financed towards fossil fuel projects. Fossil fuel divestment is more than a moral call, it makes financial sense as ⅔ of fossil fuel reserves in the ground cannot be burnt if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming.    


Cape Town’s decision is a strong and profound statement that profiting from climate disruption and it’s ever increasing human toll is morally bankrupt and financially irresponsible, below is a timeline of how public efforts played a role in encouraging the City to put its money where its mouth is – by aligning the cities financial powers with its climate action ambitions. We’d be interested to hear if this is useful in your own efforts to bring about divestment, and if you have any comments for us. Get hold of us through social media.


Month Milestone
October 2016
  • Clara Vondrich of Divest-Invest Philanthropies (US) opens engagement with CCT’s Sarah Ward (head: energy and climate change) asking City to consider divestment.
November 2016
  • David from Fossil Free South Africa (FFSA) writes to 350  with information on Divest Invest call targeting City of Cape Town to consider divestment from fossil fuels.
  • FFSA meets with City officials Hilton Robbins, Daniel Sullivan, Eugene Block, Sarah Ward.
December 2016
  • 350 Africa organises and hosts a press conference on the Arabella Report (PDF) which gives a global overview of  divestment. Conference held in Cape Town. Expectation that CT would be announcing a commitment to Divest.
January 2017
  • 350 Africa designs and implements a plan to push city of Cape Town to announce a decision to divest from fossil fuels in the lead up to Global Divestment Mobilisation in May 2017.    
February 2017
  • FFSA and 350 Africa meet City Officials to discuss divestment and ask the city to divest (Matthew Kempthorne, Councillor)
March 2017
  • GDM hard launch, City of Cape Town call to action publicised and petition delivery date announced. Sustained coverage on social media.
April 2017
  • FFSA meets with Councillor Dave Bryant re: divestment
  • 350 Africa campaign launch event for City of Cape Town divestment campaign.
  • 350 engagement with members of mayoral committee regarding divestment campaign and petition delivery.
May 2017
  • 350 Africa presents joint 350 Africa /FFSA petition for divestment to City, calling for City to: Disclose the total value of fossil fuel assets in the city’s municipal budget; Freeze any new plans to invest in the fossil fuel industry; Commit to divesting all fossil fuel holdings within 5 years.
June 2017
  • City announces Green Bond and commitment to divest from “fossil fuel assets and companies”.
July 2017
  • FFSA / 350 Africa publicise city’s announcement.
  • Mayor de Lille reaffirms divestment commitment in speech to City Council.
August 2017
  • 350 Africa and FFSA continue to engage the City around their plans to divest.