In a brave and important move, The Guardian will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies. Announcing the decision on Wednesday, the newspaper’s senior team made it clear the decision was “based on the decades-long efforts by many in that industry to prevent meaningful climate action by governments around the world”.
The decision will have a significant impact on The Guardian’s bottom line. Big oil and gas companies like to do a lot of advertising. And they do it with the kind of global grandeur and double-page largesse that newspapers thrive on. But the boycott is even more significant because of the signal it sends to other media outlets and organisations. The tide is turning, finally, on the large oil and gas companies.
About 15 years ago I wrote a column about Exxon Mobil's use of public relations and advertising to mask its true purpose and impact on the Earth. While it was first-rate marketing, I argued the ultimate effect would one day be recognised as catastrophic.
But the biggest error I made was suggesting that BP, at the time on a major mission to push its environmental credentials under the strapline 'Beyond Petroleum', was following a better and more hopeful path. That turned out to be total bollocks too.