Fossil fuels and Apartheid

I have found this astonishing clip that equates the divestment campaign against Apartheid South Africa with a divestment campaign against fossil fuel companies.

Watch the whole thing if you can – but I am astonished that people can be so crass as to compare the appalling denigration of the human spirit under Apartheid with the immense benefits that cheap and reliable energy has generated.

I had never heard of this person before – but it seems he is an author of a book on the divestment campaign against South Africa in the 1980s. He talks about it in the clip.

The problem with his argument is that the most comprehensive study that I’m aware of into the divestment campaign does not support his view:

We find no support for the common perception—and often vehement rhetoric in the financial media—that the anti-apartheid shareholder and legislative boycotts affected the financial sector adversely: the announcement of legislative or shareholder pressure had no discernible effect on the valuation of banks and corporations with South African operations or on the South African financial markets. There is weak evidence that institutional shareholdings increased when corporations divested, that is, that divesting firms’ investor clienteles changed, and that divesting firms with more returning institutional shareholders received a perhaps slightly more positive but insignificant valuation response. One explanation may be that the boycott primarily reallocated shares and operations from ‘‘socially responsible’’ to more indifferent investors and countries. Our findings are consistent with the view that demand curves for stocks are highly elastic and so have little downward slope.
In all, the evidence from both individual and legislative actions, taken together, suggests that the South African boycott had little valuation effect on the financial sector. Despite the prominence and publicity of the boycott and the multitude of divesting companies, the financial markets’ valuations of targeted companies or even the South African financial markets themselves were not easily visibly affected. The sanctions may have been effective in raising the public moral standards or public awareness of South African repression, but it appears that financial markets managed to avoid the brunt of the sanctions. This may be an important point for future activists who are considering using the tools of the boycott for other causes.

In light of that study and its results I suspect it would be a very brave fund manager who would rely on Massie’s arguments to justify divesting from fossil fuel stocks.

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33 Responses to Fossil fuels and Apartheid

  1. Jannie

    I think South Africans who fought against Apartheid would find this a bit ridiculous. But the Left also trivialises the Holocaust, I have heard Warmists comparing Gglobal Warming to to the untold murder committed by the Naziz.

  2. entropy

    If you have a hammer in your hand every problem looks like a nail.

  3. Ed

    Clean energy is a multi-billion dollar industry that would disappear without government ‘assistance.’
    Clean energy is therefore a political creation. It cannot survive on its own and therefore depends on politically favourable winds to survive.
    Those winds will not stay favourable forever.

  4. Matt

    Divestment can’t work in the way they think. When individuals divest of something, it creates discounted investment opportunities for other individuals.

    Only broad sanctions that punish people for doing business with the target can have an effect, and only governments can force sanctions.

  5. nerblnob

    Trendy arguments for “divestment” etc do not bother the oil companies in the slightest. It ought to bother the public though, and anyone whose funds are controlled by people pushing these idiotic ideas.

  6. Louis Hissink

    The problem has to be this extreme phobia over ‘fossil fuel’ – the belief that it’s accumulation of surface biological debris that has been compacted by burial in the case of coal, and via other more mysterious processes for petroleum.

    Interestingly there are accounts of humans being burned by naphtha etc during some biblical catastrophe, so you start to wonder whether this modern obsession with fossil fuels has its basis in the dim past, and like post-traumatic stress disorder, keeps resurfacing in the present as a fear of imminent catastrophe, the catastrophe being a climatic disaster that humanity has dim memories of surviving similar ones in the past.

    Actually it’s more recent because there is a possibility that the Little Ice Age was far more catastrophic in the Pacific hemisphere, than the western. The Maori have a story that the Moas were killed off by fire from the sky, and the archaeologist Peter Jupp recounts that the Australian aboriginals in SE Australia have memories of their people being killed off in large numbers by fearsome events in the southern sky. This could fit in with the Maori story. Remember that there was a massive loss of life at the conclusion of the medieval warm period from plagues etc and cold weather. And then we have the megalithic remains of circus-pacific civilisations – all destroyed at some time in the past — my guess is the LIA.

    So it’s this last global catastrophe that might be driving the present day fears of imminent catastrophe. But why the fear of hydrocarbons is puzzling, unless the Maori memory of fire in the sky was based on a rain of hydrocarbons from meteorites etc killing of most of life in these parts of the world. Hydrocarbons are very quickly recycled into the biosphere as Bjorn Lomborg mentions in his Skeptical Environmentalist book when he discusses the Exxon Valdez incident, so there would be no trace left of the such a hydrocarbon ‘rain’ today.

    Let’s face it, this hydrocarbon phobia has to be based on something real and not just some leftist fabrication.

  7. incoherent rambler

    Let’s face it, this hydrocarbon phobia has to be based on something real and not just some leftist fabrication.

    Why? Anything that suits a political agenda is fine by the left.

  8. Jessie

    Having witnessed aurora australis (a spectacular sight) and the male Aborigines panicking, stating ‘it is a bomb’, anything could be real Louis. This was central Australia mid 80s, not Darwin, northern coastline or Broome c1942.

    The referral to a ‘bomb’ was likely the anti-nuclear/anti-mining propaganda they received for years following 1956-7 weapons testing. I guess if someone had instead force-fed dreamings instead at that time in history, the locals would have been panicking that the rainbow serpent spewing red/golden vomit had returned? As such they ascribed ‘very large [atomic] bombs’ to the southern lights phenomena.
    I assumed they had been provided a projector or VHS documentary (or 2 or 3), watched too many thrillers with cars exploding (VHS) or been provided with information on these experiments. They were born in the year or by 1 year either side of the atomic testing.

    Anyway back to the video.

  9. Geriatric Mayfly

    The apartheid divestment campaign, certainly had an effect on the CBD in Johannesburg. It was abandoned by business and became a wasteland overwhelmed by crime and squalor.
    Undeterred, business eventually resumed as normal, not in the CBD, which in many parts is till a no-go area, but in the suburbs.

  10. john constantine

    green energy has only created wealth for those that harvested upfront subsidies,not those whose money got tied up in ‘build own operate maintain and decommission’ grind business,depending on the subsidy tap staying turned on. the left promise that profits from coal will be tracked down and executed up against the wall come the revolution. trouble is that the green revolution will be executing so many for so much,that the coal profiteers will be targeted for a range of sins anyway. there is so small a ‘eye of needle’ to be passed through to be ‘the right sort’ that why bother? just ignore the idiots revolution and let them feed on themselves first

  11. William

    Hmmm… I haven’t done much reading on the topic, but I recall so very clearly the impact of foreign banks withdrawing the trade lines of the South African banks, starting to really bite in the mid 1980’s. We would be on the telephone to New York, London etc literally begging them to extend the loans. In my opinion, it was the financial (foreign currency loan) sanctions that proved to be the final nail in the coffin of the Apartheid government.

  12. Sinclair Davidson

    I don’t doubt you were on the phone everyday but I’m not convinced that was the story. Apartheid collapsed because the costs of maintaining it were so horrendously high, and people were simply ignoring the authorities. The divestment campaign, at best, was like the battle of Berezina – when the war was already won come along, inflict huge casualties on the enemy as they try to escape, and claim victory.

    So yes, maybe a nail in the coffin – but the beast was dead already. Watch the clip, he almost seems to claim personal credit.

  13. Sinclair Davidson

    Yes – that organisation.

  14. cohenite

    The guy is a minister and that is perfectly consistent. Most of the churches especially the Anglican church which thinks AGW is the great demon, oppose the fossils and indeed modern consumerism and the lifestyle which goes with it.

    If you want to know what the left think of the great lifestyle we enjoy today which is ENTIRELY due to cheap, reliable energy which can only come from the fossils/nuclear and a little bit of hydro, then just read Hamilton’s book, Growth Fetish.

  15. Louis Hissink

    Berezina was quite a MFU on both sides, and during 1812 – climatically a horrible time as well.

  16. ProEng

    Re your last sentence, it will be a brave fund manager that instead of having a diversity of stocks in energy will put all his funds in so-called renewable energy. In fact any investor putting money into renewable energy is likeable to lose most of their investment. Look at what is happening in Germany with the closure of solar manufacturing and solar photoelectric large scale generation and wind turbine manufacturing and installers. The vast waste of investment in Spain on Solar generations is part of the reason for that country’s poor economical status and high unemployment. A report on Spain’s renewable energy sector showed that every “green” job caused an increase in unemployment by five but the “green” jobs have now also disappeared.

  17. Jessie

    OK Sinclair, hope you got the Valentine present in time.
    I got to 44.29.

    This is about the world-wide socialist club of IR and union issues and mining [fossil fuels]. And an incremental position rather than science-based. is the same as 10-10? Cut CO2 or we’ll blow up your kids: 10:10 climate change ad shock.

    But he had 3 arguments about fiduciary duty , so I was getting confused.

    Some observations- he likes analogies of Adam and Eve and Harry Potter. He thinks his 750page book makes a good doorstop or biceps builder. He’s not a lawyer but hang around Harvard Law school. That people want to have lived and taken part in the Civil War period or be a leader in the Civil Rights movement. But that makes sense because he 38.52 Choices I urge you to bare/bear down and make those choices. which I had thought was only a choice women had to face.

    His confusion with past and future finishes here:

    So to review Climate is an existential danger to our people, to our planet, oh and oh by the way to our portfolios.
    Fossil fuel stocks are inflated by the carbon bubble. You can commit to divestment because it is so simple just don’t buy anymore and then sell over 5 years. Anybody that can’t rebalance their portfolio, any professional that can’t rebalance a portfolio, there’s a rebalance all the time that doesn’t know what they are doing, don’t be pressured in to accepting the policy of the past. Turn to the great investors the great prophets…..

    note climate not climate change.

    Some questions:
    30.19 Most big bluechip companies in Sth Africa were “big blue chip companies in finance, in auto manufacturing in everything.” 30.37 “notice the attenuation, the attrition of connectivity at every point.”
    30.19-52 He does NOT mention the mining industry in the blue chip companies of Sth Africa only GM, Mobile, IBM (leading to release of Nelson Mandela clap clap).
    Why is this?
    31.45-32.53 Why was it embarrassing for all the theorists on both sides when they received the letter from the Treasurer which resulted in 9 studies?
    What is a mirror economy movemen. An evolutionary reconstruction, chequerboard reconstruction? He mentions these at the end.

    What was the effect of the union movement on the black miners in the mining industry in Sth Africa pre his time line? He only gave a timeline at the end of the talk. (34.15 onwards)

    Thank you

  18. One reason not to turn your nose up at any reasonably backed investment is that money has a bit of a housing problem. The world is awash in retirement funds, and you can only send so much of them to a good home. So you end up leaving them out on the street or up at the park in the care of suspicious characters you hardly know. Party time in the back alley! The mugs who own the superannuation, and the employers who were forced to pay it out week after week for all those years, have their minds on other things. Recipe for something there…none of it good.

    Of course, there’s also the point that fossil fuels are magnificent resources, while “renewables” – taken in isolation from hydro – are a sick joke played on humanity. There’s that point too.

  19. Jessie

    Did he like Reagan? I was confused, I was busy counting that there was 23 states/counties/cities involved in the domino effect post Connecticut. Which directly led to:

    36.04 “.. and it succeeded. Ronald Reagan had only ONE veto overwritten on foreign policy in 8 years and that was it…..

    1986 happened in Reagan vetoed
    1988 Companies withdrew
    1990 Mandela released
    1993 negotiated new constitution
    1994 new elections
    Boom boom boom boom (4) he says ”
    Maybe it was only 3 booms, I forget.

  20. Jessie

    cohenite at 11.53

    well Cof E might be divested of property post RC unless they are making equity avail in another fashion.

  21. cohenite

    That’s true Jessie, but the really big losers will be the industry super funds run by the trade unions which invested in, and indeed prop up, the renewable energy ‘industry’. This corrupt form of investment was entirely dependent on the previous government’s subsidisations to the tune of $billions. Now with Gillard and the rest of the ferals gone the industry super funds will be left out to dry.

  22. Jessie

    They’ll be right, that you beaut Green Star office block that Juliar invested in, in the Sydney CBD will help them out. Probably got IP on the design, carpets or paintings or something. 🙂

  23. Jim Rose

    Ethical investing generally has a poor record.

  24. Louis Hissink

    Ethical investments – those would be ones which don’t make that evil profit, no?

  25. Jim Rose

    how can foreign investment exploit a country and yet an investment boycott would hurt it too?

  26. nerblnob

    Let’s face it, this hydrocarbon phobia has to be based on something real and not just some leftist fabrication

    It’s more like the spoiled rich kid who hates his parents who he can only see faults in and who he thinks prevent him from enjoying a more fulfilling life.

  27. Rohan

    And after all that, the irony is that the crew got up to this:

    As one commenter called it: Klimate Khange Konsensis

  28. Chris M

    ‘Fossil’ fuels aren’t.

  29. Empire Strikes Back

    Hard to believe a bloke who took 16/137 in his debit test could turn out to be such a flog.

  30. Leo G

    Massie probably gets a grant from Obama’s Climate Resilience Action Plan fund (OCRAP?).

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