The Guardian Media Group has announced that it will divest from coal, oil and gas companies because of both ethical and financial reasons. The £800 million fund is thought to be the largest to join the divestment campaign.
Chair of the Guardian Media Group, Neil Berkett said in the newspaper, “It is a hard-nosed business decision, but it is influenced by the values of our organisations. It is holistic decision taking into account all of those things.”
He adds that in recent years the fund’s fossil fuel holdings are performed relatively poorly because climate change action threatens profits. In contrast, Berkett notes that an ethical fund already held by the Guardian Media Group has a “stellar” performance and renewable energy was growing.
“This means we can adopt socially responsible investment criteria without putting at risk the core purpose of Guardian Media Group investment funds: to generate long-term returns that guarantee the financial future and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity,” he continued.
The percentage of the Guardian Media Group investment fund held in fossil fuels has been described as low. The firm plans to sell divest from direct fossil fuel investments over the next couple of years and divest from ‘co-mingled’ funds over the next five.
The decision follows a review looking at the fossil fuel free options, which while growing are still relatively small when compared to the whole investment market. Despite this, fossil fuel investments have been labelled as “increasingly risky” in a University College London research paper.
The study noted that the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground if the world is to avoid dangerous levels of climate change, impacting on fossil fuel companies profitability.
The Guardian has recently launched a fossil fuel divestment campaign, calling on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, two of the world’s biggest charities, to move their endowments out of fossil fuels.
Speaking to the newspaper, Bill McKibben, an environmentalist that has led the divestment campaign, commented, “The Guardian understands there’s an argument and a fight about climate change. The argument we have long since won; everyone know by now the planet is in peril.
“But the fight with the fossil fuel industry has become a pitched battle, and now the Guardian lends its weight here as well.”
Photo: Steven Straiton via Flickr
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