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Guardian Divestment Campaign Propping Up Fossil Fuel Shares

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James Mackintosh, Financial Times

This was terribly nice of Mr Rusbridger. Investors, he explained, should sell their shares in oil, coal and others digging up nasty carbon-based fuels, because they weren’t really worth as much as everyone thought; they would never be allowed to use all their reserves, because it would cause the end of the world (or serious global warming, anyway).

The usually left-wing Guardian was going out of its way to help the plutocrats make money, a job usually reserved for us here at the FT.

“By supporting these companies, investors not only continue to fund unsustainable business models that are bound to make climate change worse, but they also risk their financial assets becoming worthless if international agreements on climate change are met.”

Investors should have listened, thanked Mr Rusbridger, and done the exact opposite. It turned out he was a perfect contrarian indicator. He picked a six-year bottom in the US benchmark oil price, West Texas Intermediate. He lit a carbon-based bonfire under crude prices: WTI’s now up 30 per cent, the biggest rally over such a short period since 2009 (and before that, 2002).

Crude oil prices

All of this has been great for investors who didn’t follow the Guardian’s advice. Shares in oil and gas companies are up handily.

Oil & gas sector

So are shares in miners (pure coal miners are up the same 7 per cent, by the way).

World mining sector

To be fair to Mr Rusbridger, it’s much more likely that this is luck than anything to do with the divestment campaign.

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