In July 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the website of The Guardian looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change. Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:
1. For the company to discuss its areas of climate impact, and to discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past, and ways that it will cut them in the future. For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding its climate actions, and to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place.
2. For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company), and,
3. to go some way towards reporting on its scope 3 emissions (emissions from the supply chain, investments and sold products).
4. For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.
If a company met all of these criteria it would receive a best rating. If it met parts 1&2 (impacts and annual reporting CO2e) it would receive a middle rating. Otherwise it would receive a worst rating.
1.The Guardian outlined on its website its key impacts relating to carbon emissions, including ways that it will cut its emissions in the future. From a link to its Climate Pledge, it discussed its 'comprehensive audit' of its own emissions, and linked to a further article stating: "We have now set a goal of eliminating at least two-thirds of all emissions from our own operations and our supply chain by 2030", discussing how this would include lighting, packaging and increased use of technology. It also stated, “In 2019, we became the first major news organisation to certify as a B Corporation, and made a climate pledge to our readers committing to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030”. In a news article on the The Guardian website, the company also announced in 2020 that it “will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies, becoming the first major global news organisation to stop accepting money from companies that extract fossil fuels” and that it had “eliminated more than 95% of our investment exposure to fossil fuels”. The Guardian did not appear to refer to any past emissions reductions.
2 and 3.The Guardian did not present any annual reporting on its Scope 1 & 2 emissions, nor Scope 3 emissions.
4. Ethical Consumer also viewed an article in the Guardian dated October 2020 titled “The Guardian launches new green initiatives including climate data dashboard and outlines plans for how it will achieve net zero emissions by 2030”. This article outlined that the Guardian’s aim to achieve net zero emissions by 2030 had been “informed by a full audit of greenhouse gas emissions from both Guardian Media Group’s direct and indirect emissions, which identified newspaper production and the subsequent supply chain as the biggest contributors to the Guardian’s carbon footprint.” It also stated that “Any emissions which cannot be eliminated will be balanced by certified, auditable carbon offsetting schemes."
Overall, The Guardian did discuss some key climate-related impacts and provided some future plans to cut emissions, but it did not adequately meet any of the criteria. In turn, the company received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for carbon management and reporting and lost a full mark under Climate Change.