On Friday 19 November, close to four-hundred environmental defenders took to the streets to picket outside the Sasol Head Office in Sandton, Johannesburg, at the same time as the oil and gas giant held its Annual General Meeting (AGM). The picket, spearheaded by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, took place to urge Sasol and its shareholders to accelerate South Africa’s #JustTransition and move away from fossil fuels.

Earthlife’s Program Officer Ulrich Steenkamp says, “We call on the shareholders of Sasol – one of SA’s Biggest GHG Emitters – to do the responsible thing and to use the power of their vote to reject any future oil, gas, and coal plans that may be presented to them. We urge Sasol’s shareholders to align themselves with the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and future energy needs. Climate change has life-threatening impacts on the African continent, and we need to take #ClimateActionNow.”

According to Just Share’s Sasol’s 2021 Climate Change Report (CCR2021), “Sasol is not planning to decarbonise in line with climate science, and it appears to be highly unlikely that it can achieve a 25% emission reduction in four years, between 2026 and 2030. Sasol has not set short-term emission reduction targets, nor has it committed to ensuring that its emissions do not increase in the next four years. Sasol has also failed to specify emission reduction targets between 2030 and 2050.”

The report unpacks the issues regarding gas a “transition” fuel and the unaddressed risks of methane. However, more importantly, the report also highlights key questions shareholders should have satisfactorily answered by Sasol, before its climate plan can be endorsed. These include:

  1. Despite the urgency to reduce GHG emissions to limit the worst impacts of the climate crisis, Sasol’s emissions have increased in both of the years (2020 and 2021) since it set its first emission reduction target in 2019. As Sasol has set no measurable emission reduction target until 2025, can the company confirm that there will be no further emission increases between now and then?
  2. Why has Sasol not set any short-term decarbonisation milestones until 2026, other than its plans to procure 200 MW of renewable energy as part of its 600 MW project with Air Liquide?
  3. Why has Sasol not set any decarbonisation milestones for the period between 2030 and 2050?
  4. When will Sasol provide its shareholders with full details of how its capital expenditure plans will support the delivery of its decarbonisation targets?
  5. Sasol regards the carbon price for developing countries used by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) as “unrealistic for the current national context”. Given how integral a meaningful, robust carbon tax is to reducing emissions, does Sasol intend to continue to lobby – either directly or through industry associations – against an effective carbon tax, favouring what it describes as a gradual, “tailored carbon price … for the South African context”?

Earlier in November, Steenkamp also joined representatives from 13 community-based organisations in a separate demonstration outside Sasol’s Head Office. The Climate Justice Action Group (CJAG) says its aim was to draw attention to the COP26 talks, calling for community involvement in proposals to address the climate crises.

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