OPINION | Are my investments supporting fossil fuel companies? | Fin24

It seems that most of us are supporting fossil-fuel companies financially. Are we happy to continue doing so? asks Jo-Anne Smetherham.

2022-01-20 07:00:00 PM

It seems that most of us are supporting fossil-fuel companies financially. Are we happy to continue doing so? asks Jo-Anne Smetherham.

It seems that most of us are supporting fossil-fuel companies financially. Are we happy to continue doing so? asks Jo-Anne Smetherham.

Fossil Free South Africa's Public anger towards Shell reached levels not seen before against any fossil-fuel company in South Africa, as the company geared up for its seismic blasts in the Wild Coast seas late last year. My colleague David le Page challenged me to investigate my own investments to find out, and to document the process. After our conversation, I realised that in some deep, irksome part of my soul I was not keen. 

The investigation also promised to be an awful lot of admin, which I abhor. But the question had been asked and there's no point in doing damage in the dark. Better to find out the truth and, even if it takes time, start to shift things. Sasol recently announced emission-reduction targets which might at face value seem encouraging but, in fact, fall far short of the real requirements outlined in the Paris treaty on climate change. Also, Sasol has a poor track record when it comes to fulfilling its previous environmental promises. 

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Protesters at the V&A Waterfront, 21 November.of $333 million for the 2020 financial year.The company has acquired a 100% share in Miami-owned CBD lifestyle brand Echo Life which comprises a diverse FMCG product portfolio and has obtained exclusive rights to distribute American pre-rolled hemp smokable Ace & Axle as well as its other products.January 12, 2022 12 January 15:57 United States consumer inflation up at 7% in Dec 2021, highest level since 1982.

Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images It seems that most of us are supporting fossil-fuel companies financially. Are we happy to continue doing so? asks  Fossil Free South Africa's  Jo-Anne Smetherham . In my view, the partnership will only succeed if certain conditions are met. Public anger towards Shell reached levels not seen before against any fossil-fuel company in South Africa, as the company geared up for its seismic blasts in the Wild Coast seas late last year. Echo Life and Ace & Axle will form part of Labat’s retail portfolio that already includes Cannafrica, a medicinal and luxury CBD lifestyle brand with three outlets in South Africa, an online store and three additional stores opening in the coming months.  To activists' relief, the Makhanda High Court recently obliged Shell to cease its blasts due to the possible damage to marine life and local communities' livelihoods. But, secondly, that the tie-up must be driven by the private sector. The court order was a milestone. Naspers jumped more than 6%, while Sasol (+5%), and Anglo (+4%) also saw strong gains.

It showed when consequences are taken into account, it is possible to check the growth of powerful fossil-fuel companies. The case for a partnership A range of academic studies show that alliances affect the production costs of participating airlines through economies of scale (by means of joint operations of air and ground services), increased traffic density (through network expansion and additional traffic feed) and scope (through increased reach and efficient connections). “Labat is a first mover in the cannabis economy and a market leader. But are we all unwittingly promoting the growth of these companies via our retirement annuities and other instruments? Are we unknowingly harming local livelihoods and environments, and contributing to climate change, which scientists are warning us about so starkly?  My colleague David le Page challenged me to investigate my own investments to find out, and to document the process. After our conversation, I realised that in some deep, irksome part of my soul I was not keen. Air France and KLM are good examples why airlines are better off working together.  First, I was sure my investments were indeed supporting coal, oil and gas companies. Cannafrica’s products, which include cannabidiol medicinal drops, edibles, and supplements, are aligned to South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) regulations whereas Echo Life adheres to standards set out by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), it said. They make so much money they are doubtless top investment choices for most fund managers. Some of alliance arrangements may lead to a reduction in costs and increased efficiency. He said the economy was on a strong footing, and with inflation rising and employment recovering,"the economy no longer needs or wants the very highly accommodative policy".

My research would bring no greater peace of mind but, instead, an even greater sadness and moral compromise. As it is, I drive a car and use Eskom's coal-powered electricity every day. Apart from these benefits, an alliance between South African Airways and Kenya Airways would be good for a number of reasons specific to Africa.0 offering, which is South Africa’s first cannabis experience store and has also opened additional outlets in Johannesburg and Hartbeespoort as well as an online store. My lifestyle is elevated above subsistence level largely by the services that fossil fuels provide. Now, David was inviting me to confirm even my money was tainted, and evoking an ethical dilemma that I would struggle to vanquish. Secondly, the alliance could take advantage of a return to pre-COVID travel levels.  The investigation also promised to be an awful lot of admin, which I abhor.” Springboard into retail in Europe and US Cannabis is transforming from a back-alley product to a sophisticated legal commodity..

But the question had been asked and there's no point in doing damage in the dark. And it’s estimated that air transport will grow on average by 3. Better to find out the truth and, even if it takes time, start to shift things.  I fronted up, starting to phone and email, motivated by the idea that my effort was a small building block towards a cooler and kinder world.8% if African States implement the Single African Air Transport Market. “Labat’s responsibility is to ensure that we take the proposition of South Africa – with its quality raw materials and processing capabilities – to the globe by being part of the largest capital markets in Europe and the USA,” said Van Rooyen. The research was a schlep: Perhaps that was the point of David's challenge. Few people are likely to do a task that is both dismaying and requires perseverance. Airlines may specialise on feeder services and fly destinations with smaller demand and catchment areas.8 percent, thanks to a boost in tech firms, and Tokyo up a little shy of two percent.

At any rate, here are my findings. Prohibition Partners, a cannabis market think-tank, predicted that Germany will continue to lead the European cannabis market as over a million German patients will have access to medical cannabis by 2024, and the German medical market alone will be worth €7. Yours, dear reader, would likely be similar. In my view, the cooperation deal would also improve the financial viability of the two national airlines.  To my happy surprise on one level, asset manager Allan Gray proved an open book. I called to ask for the information, was told by the telephone consultant that it might not be available, but received three substantial investment sheets within hours. It would boost customer volumes if cost savings were passed on to customers by means of lower fares. “It is evident that for us to engage the cannabis economy on a global stage, partnering with and acquiring international retail brands remain an integral part of our strategy. Shell was not listed, but Sasol is one of the 10 companies receiving the most support from my Allan Gray Balanced Fund. The rand was trading a percent stronger at R15.

  Sasol recently announced emission-reduction targets which might at face value seem encouraging but, in fact, fall far short of the real requirements outlined in the Paris treaty on climate change. With their , (a hub is a central airport that flights are routed through), cooperation will help to boost the route networks of both airlines across Africa. Also, Sasol has a poor track record when it comes to fulfilling its previous environmental promises.  No encouragement there.  (As galling for me, as my father died of tobacco-induced lung cancer, is that British American Tobacco was the top beneficiary. Mining companies and banks made up most of the others, along with government bonds - including for Eskom - and a host of other Allan Gray and Orbis funds, each of which probably deserved investigations of their own. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, for example, said on Monday that high inflation and a strong recovery warrant a rapid rundown of Fed asset holdings.

But I was getting the picture.) I had some other Allan Gray funds that did not invest in equities - at least, not that my financially untrained eye could detect - so I glossed over those.  Discovery was a much harder nut to crack. Unlike that of Allan Gray, its website is a maze, and the"interactive fund factsheets" had no listing of any of my funds that I could see, although hundreds of others were listed. I understood none of this, so I phoned. "As we work toward our Ambition2025 strategy which is anchored on building the largest and most valuable platform business, I believe that Gamberini’s wealth of experience will have a notable contribution towards enhancing our technology functions as well as providing a network that is second to none to all South Africans," said MTN SA’s CEO Charles Molapisi.

  The consultant, although personable, did not know what I was asking for and sent me statements instead.  Going back to the website, I enquired via the chat box but received no real response. Eventually, in exasperation, I phoned again, was promised a response within 48 hours, and have still received nothing many days later.   I have spotted the name of an investments ombud, so I shall try him or her next. Nevertheless, in the absence of proof to the contrary, I shall have to assume a substantial proportion of my Discovery investments - although managed by a company that jumped on the PR bandwagon to publicly claim its opposition to Shell's exploration plans - support at least one fossil-fuel company. Grant Hardy, head of group financial services, will succeed him.

  Has there been a point in all this? Yes. First, I shall no longer be channelling any extra savings into my Allan Gray Balanced Fund or Discovery RA. Fossil Free South Africa provides the names of some funds that claim to be more socially responsible than the norm, and I shall look at these in the coming months instead.  Second, and on a much larger scale, perhaps my efforts are part of a larger zeitgeist that is changing. My investigation alone makes no difference, but the FFSA is now just three signatures short of 90 Allan Gray client signatures before we shall be sending them a letter requesting a fossil fuel-free fund. The rand was almost unchanged at R15.

  (Some weeks ago, I was at a protest against Shell's seismic surveys. In front of me marched a young woman holding a hastily made"Boycott Shell" poster. She was cheerfully yelling"Do it!" at the drivers-by and pointing to her poster. I found it intriguing that about one in three or four drivers - people from all backgrounds - gave her a thumbs-up, and many others hooted their support for the protesters. I do not think that many previous environmental protests have received such encouragement from passers-by. Bitcoin meanwhile, the world's most popular cryptocurrency, rose above $42,000 just a day after having sunk below $40,000 on fears of reduced liquidity as a result of US monetary policy tightening.

) However, to turn the tide against climate change, we will need to dig deeper. It seems that most of us are supporting fossil-fuel companies financially. Are we happy to continue doing so? If not, let's seek the alternatives.  - Jo-Anne Smetherham is communications officer for Fossil Free South Africa. Views expressed are her own. Higher interest rates are usually a negative for stocks, but investors have at times seemed reassured that policymakers are intent on restraining inflation which, if it got out of hand, could have a devastating effect on the global economy.

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