A long time ago, Robert Zipplies worked in the steel industry, management consulting and internet start-ups. After becoming increasingly concerned with society’s social and environmental issues, particularly climate change, he switched to corporate sustainability consulting in 2004. He published a book on climate change and became a climate change activist, which included a month-long, almost 3 000 km, cycle around South Africa on an electric bicycle giving public talks and interviews to raise awareness and encourage action.
More recently, in search for answers to the question ‘Why are humans not responding more ambitiously to the big issues of our time?’, Robert started working with the Common Cause values and frames approach to accelerate and deepen societal change. Robert co-founded Common Cause South Africa in 2016 and helps organisations and individuals apply this thinking to their work.
Roberts asserts that climate change ranks as one of the biggest, most complex, issues humanity faces in our time. He has been involved in and taking climate action since 2004. His initial interest in general education and awareness-raising shifted to exploring what different sectors of society could do about climate change, and more recently, to fossil fuel divestment and behaviour change.
Currently, Robert assists on a voluntary basis by running Fossil Free SA, a divestment campaign launched in Cape Town. It initially focused on encouraging the University of Cape Town to divest from fossil fuel, but it is increasingly broadening its scope. While Robert’s work with Common Cause South Africa, which applies values and mental frames thinking to strengthen pro-social and pro-environmental behaviour, is not specifically focused on climate change, it does however encourage pro-environmental behaviour change in general.
Robert published the book Bending the Curve – Your guide to tackling climate change in South Africa, which details the roles different sectors of society, such as agriculture, transport, government, business, people as individuals, among others, can play about climate change. The book is available as a free e-book here.
In his private capacity, Robert Zipplies tries to live a lower-impact life, even though he keeps bumping into the limitations posed by the existing food-energy-transport-etc. system around him.
Materials that Robert has produced to illustrate his climate change engagements are available below at the following links:
More about how to apply the Common Cause values and frames approach to environmental issues here.
More about the Fossil Free campaign here.