The Guardian Bans Advertising by Fossil Fuel Industry

Demonstrators from Friends of the Earth, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Greenpeace, protest against Japanese financing of coal projects November 13, 2015 in front of the building that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation has offices, in downtown Washington, DC. The group called on Japan to stop publically financing …
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

Early Wednesday morning, the Guardian announced a decision to forgo all advertising ties to fossil fuel extraction companies.

The Guardian‘s Acting Chief Executive Anna Bateson and Chief Revenue Officer Hamish Nicklin released a joint statement, calling climate change the “most important challenge of our times,” and saying the decision “is based on the decades-long efforts by many in that industry to prevent meaningful climate action by governments around the world.

Even so, they were forced to admit that the change could come with a price tag:

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 organisation and remaining financially sustainable have to go hand in hand.

Because of that, the news outlet will continue to advertise for car companies. The alternative, they claimed, would be financially untenable. “Stopping those ads would be a severe financial blow,” they explained, “and might force us to make significant cuts to Guardian and Observer journalism around the world.”

Bateson and Nicklin hope that the aforementioned “short term” difficulties will be offset by companies more likely to advertise with an environmentally friendly outlet:

We believe many brands will agree with our stance, and might be persuaded to choose to work with us more as a result. The future of advertising lies in building trust with consumers, and demonstrating a real commitment to values and purpose.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace praised the move. Greenpeace UK Senior Climate Campaigner Mel Evans called it a “bold move to end the legitimacy of fossil fuels,” representing “a watershed moment” for which The Guardian “must be applauded.”

“Oil and gas firms now find themselves alongside tobacco companies as businesses that threaten the health and wellbeing of everyone on this planet,” Evans said. “Other media outlets, arts and sports organisations must now follow suit and end fossil fuel company advertising and sponsorship.”

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