22 South African Civil Society Organisations Call on Advertising and Public Relations Agencies to Cut Ties With Fossil Fuel Companies

This Human Rights Day, a coalition of 22 organisations is calling on South African PR and advertising agencies to decline future work from fossil fuel companies, industry associations and related front groups as they continue their decades-long efforts to undermine climate action. 

21 March 2023 

The stakes could not be higher. From devastating floods to droughts and extreme heat, South Africa is already feeling the effects of climate change, and this is just the beginning. 

The continued prioritisation of fossil fuels over cheaper, cleaner alternatives is hurting the economy, the environment and human health — with poor and vulnerable communities worst affected as they are least prepared to cope with floods, heatwaves, droughts and food shortages. Further, fossil fuel air pollution causes 1 in 5 deaths globally — an astonishing 8 million deaths annually1

As civil society, environmental and climate justice organisations, our work is undermined by advertising and PR campaigns that promote fossil fuel companies and deflect from the immense harm their activities are causing. These campaigns, which mirror those used in the tobacco industry decades ago, greenwash oil, gas and coal companies in an attempt to slow or block meaningful change. 

They drown out the voices of concerned citizens across our country and around the world, while effectively silencing communities on the frontlines of this crisis. They are inauthentic and antithetical to the purpose and mission of our organisations. 

It’s time for PR and ad agencies to come clean, end their work with the fossil fuel industry, and be a force for good, rather than part of the problem. Scientists at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have specifically called out the creative industry for hampering efforts to prevent a full-blown climate catastrophe, and we must heed those calls. 

Together, we can stand on the right side of history, and support those organisations that are genuinely working to effect meaningful change — rather than those that only pretend to. 

See Signatories on page 2 below. 

1 https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/c-change/news/fossil-fuel-air-pollution-responsible-for-1-in-5-deaths-worldwide/


Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation 

Greenpeace Africa 

The Centre For Environmental Rights 


The Green Connection 

African Climate Reality Project 

Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute, SAFCEI 

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance 

Just Share 

Climate Action Network South Africa 

Earthlife Africa 


African Climate Alliance 

Fossil Free South Africa 

Extinction Rebellion Cape Town 

Don’t Gas Africa 

Friends of the Liesbeek 

Green Anglicans 

Goldfields Community Forum 


The Wild Law Institute 

UCT Green Campus Initiative 

About Clean Creatives South Africa: 

Launched locally last year, Clean Creatives South Africa is the local chapter of Clean Creatives (cleancreatives.org) a global movement of advertisers, PR professionals, and their clients cutting ties with fossil fuels. The South African arm of Clean Creatives is a project of Fossil Free South Africa (fossilfreesa.org.za). 

For more information or interviews, contact Clean Creatives SA country director, Stephen Horn: stephen@fossilfreesa.org.za or 072 621 0457.