Climate advocacy groups and campaigners celebrated after the Guardian Media Group announced Wednesday that it “will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies.”
Greenpeace U.K. senior climate campaigner Mel Evans called the announcement a “watershed moment, adding “the Guardian must be applauded for this bold move to end the legitimacy of fossil fuels,” reports Common Dreams.In its statement, according to The Hill, the Guardian Media Group (GMG) notes that 2019 was quite a year on the climate crisis front. “Teenage climate strikers inspired millions of people, young and old, to protest against inaction, and devastating bushfires sweep across much of Australia,” making this the most challenging of times.Guardian editorial staff have led the world in covering the climate crisis, even going so far as to rename “climate change” to a much more urgent language – “climate crisis” last year. Many other news organizations have followed suit in this.Some readers would like it if The Guardian went further, banning ads for any product with a significant carbon footprint, such as cars or holidays. Stopping those ads would be a severe financial blow to both the Guardian and Observer.
The Statement notes that taking that step would likely be financially untenable and, “more importantly, fossil fuel extractors are qualitatively different. The intent — and extent — of their lobbying efforts has explicitly harmed the environmental cause over the course of many years — as our own reporting has shown and environmental campaigners have powerfully argued.
“The statement also points out that advertising made up about 40 percent of the company’s funding last year. Acknowledging the expected impact of the decision to stop accepting fossil fuel advertising, GMG’s Anna Bateson and Hamish Nicklin said that”the funding model for the Guardian—like most high-quality media companies—is going to remain precarious over the next few years. It’s true that rejecting some adverts might make our lives a tiny bit tougher in the very short term. Nonetheless, we believe building a more purposeful organization and remaining financially sustainable have to go hand in hand.”
Earlier this month, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg called on newspapers to end their acceptance of fossil fuel advertising, rhetorically asking what would be “the first major international newspaper to lead on this.”GMG just hopes other like-minded news organizations will join them in taking steps to cut ties with fossil fuel companies. “We believe many brands will agree with our stance and might be persuaded to choose to work with us more as a result,” they said. “The future of advertising lies in building trust with consumers, and demonstrating a real commitment to values and purpose.”
BY KAREN GRAHAM