Last week, I argued that for sustainable lifestyle change to succeed as a strategy, we're going to have to talk about money.
The UK's Guardian newspaper have been doing just that as part of their major campaign on climate change, asking individuals and institutions alike to move their money from fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy solutions.
Now, the Guardian Media Group (GMG), which owns both The Guardian and Observer newspapers, is putting its money where its mouth is: committing to divest its massive £800m investment fund from all fossil fuel assets within the next few years. The move, it says, makes it the largest known fund to pull all of its investments from coal, oil and gas.
Consistent with the growing narrative around divestment, GMG's chair Neil Berkett is couching its move in financial, as well as ethical terms:
Berkett said fossil fuel assets had performed relatively poorly in recent years and were threatened by future climate change action, while an ethical fund already held by GMG had been a “stellar” performer and renewable energy was growing strongly. “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,” he said.
Given that most fossil fuels are increasingly considered unburnable, it's hard to see this announcement as anything else but a financially savvy, long-term move. And if I am right, and everyone is underestimating the future growth of clean energy, the fact that GMG will also increase its "ethical" investments could work out well for them too.
Alan Rusbridger, the outgoing editor-in-chief who kicked off the current climate campaign as his final big contribution to his tenure, welcomed the announcement as a sign of things to come:
"What was a trickle is becoming a river and will, I suspect, become a flood."
I, for one, am hoping he is right.