The Guardian Media Group (GMG) has announced that it will sell $1.2 billion (£800 million) worth of assets currently invested in the fossil fuel industry, making it the largest major divestment to date, The Guardian reported.
Justifying the decision on not just financial, but ethical grounds, GMG chair Neil Berkett said, “It’s a hard-nosed business decision, but it is influenced by the values of our organisation. It is a holistic decision taking into account all of those things.
GMG’s fossil fuel investments had recently been performing poorly, and given the increasing trend towards clean, renewable energy as a result of climate change, divesting from fossil fuels made sense for the media group.
“This means we can adopt socially responsible investment criteria without putting at risk the core purpose of GMG’s investment funds: to generate long-term returns that guarantee the financial future and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity,” said Berkett.
In recent weeks, The Guardian has been running the Keep It in the Ground campaign, asking groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust — the two biggest charitable funds in the world — to divest their funds from fossil fuels as well.
“Over 180 groups around the world have already taken this step, including Syracuse University,” said The Guardian, “which on Tuesday committed to divesting its $1.18 billion endowment.”
Before Syracuse’s and GMG’s divestments, the largest fund to pull out of the fossil fuel industry was the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, who divested about $860 million.
The Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger said he was “delighted” with GMG’s decision to divest.
“What was a trickle is becoming a river and will, I suspect, become a flood,” Rusbridger said. “I’m glad that GMG is ahead of the trend – and believe this decision will be strongly influential on other companies and foundations.”
Hopefully he’s right. As more and more companies, universities, and charitable foundations pull their money out of fossil fuel, those billions of dollars can be spent on developing clean, renewable energy, helping to slow the ever-increasing effects of climate change.