South Africa: It's Business As Usual As Sasol Brushes Off Climate Activist Shareholders

opinion

If one of South Africa and the region's biggest polluters were properly regulated and held to constitutional imperatives, instead of appeased and included in government's climate negotiation team, would activists and affected communities have to go this kind of length just to be heard?

Over the past few years, annual general meetings of shareholders in listed companies have become a common platform for environmental and climate activists all over the world. As long as they are able to purchase a share in that company, activists and affected people are able publicly to confront and challenge the leadership of companies whose operations cause environmental harm and contribute to global heating.

The questions to corporate leaders often require such companies to invest in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, more sustainable operations, and in people and in the rehabilitation of the environment which it has sought to exploit and pollute. Since these are usually costly investments that reduce profits, companies are inevitably slow and reluctant to make the commitments activists demand.

Last week, a number of environmental activists attended and participated in Sasol's AGM, asking critical questions about Sasol's failure to address the impacts of their pollution on the health of affected communities,...

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