Guardian newspaper to say no to oil advertising money

The trust behind the Guardian has sold most of its fossil fuel investments Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

The Guardian newspaper is to stop taking advertising money from some of the world’s biggest polluters after banning major oil firms from its pages and website.

Companies such as BP and Shell, and others that extract fossil fuels, will now be forced to turn elsewhere to get their message across.

The newspaper’s acting chief executive, Anna Bateson, and chief revenue officer, Hamish Nicklin, said: “We have decided that we will no longer accept advertising from fossil fuel extractive companies on any of the Guardian’s websites and apps, nor in the Guardian, Observer and Guardian Weekly in print.”

Companies such as BP will no longer be able to advertise with The Guardian. Credit: PA

Critics have long called out fossil fuel companies for using adverts to “greenwash” their businesses by emphasising investments in renewables, while hiding dirty fuels.

Mel Evans, senior climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “For BP, the disconnect has been the most glaring: spending millions on lobbying to undermine environmental laws, then claiming to be progressive on climate in ads and on social media.

“Oil and gas firms now find themselves alongside tobacco companies as businesses that threaten the health and well-being of everyone on this planet.”

It is unclear if the new ban will include subsidiaries of oil majors which themselves are not fossil fuel extractors. Credit: PA

However, The Guardian has stopped short of banning adverts from all major polluters.

“We know some readers would like us to go 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,” Ms Bateson and Mr Nicklin said.

It follows other moves, including changing the rules for the Scott Trust Endowment fund, which supports The Guardian. After a policy shift five years ago, less that 1% of its total funds are now invested in fossil fuels.

It is unclear if the new ban will include subsidiaries of oil majors which themselves are not fossil fuel extractors.

Asked whether it would encompass Shell Energy, a green electricity supplier owned by Shell, The Guardian said it would not accept advertising “if a company’s main business is fossil fuel extraction”.

“Of course there may be borderline instances and we’ll look at those on a case-by-case basis,” a spokesman added.