LONDON: British newspaper the Guardian on Wednesday said it will ban fossil fuel adverts across its outlets, becoming the first major international news organisation to do so.

“The ban will apply to any business primarily involved in extracting fossil fuels, including many of the world’s largest polluters,” said the paper.

“Our decision is based on the decades-long efforts by many in that industry to prevent meaningful climate action by governments around the world,” acting chief executive, Anna Bateson, and chief revenue officer, Hamish Nicklin, said in a joint statement, calling it the “most important challenge of our times”.

The Scott Trust, which owns the media group, has also “almost entirely” divested from fossil fuel companies, they added.

Bateson and Nicklin said the ban would hit the company’s finances, with advertising making up 40 per cent of its revenue.

“It’s true that rejecting some adverts might make our lives a tiny bit tougher in the very short term,” they said.

“Nonetheless, we believe building a more purposeful organisation and remaining financially sustainable have to go hand in hand.”

However, they added that the company would not ban advertising for high-carbon footprint products, such as cars or holidays, saying it was “not financially sustainable”.

Environmental campaigners Greenpeace called the decision a “watershed moment”, and said the Guardian “must be applauded for this bold move to end the legitimacy of fossil fuels”.

“Oil and gas firms now find themselves alongside tobacco companies as businesses that threaten the health and well-being of everyone on this planet,” said senior climate campaigner Mel Evans.

She said it would end “greenwash advertising” and encouraged other media, arts and sports organisations to follow suit.

In recent months, several organisations including the Royal Shakespeare Company and the British Museum have been forced to stop corporate sponsorship from oil majors by environmentalists.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2020