November 6, 2014

AFR anti-divestment bias results in protests at Fairfax AGM

6th November 2014, Melbourne: Protesters today gathered outside the Fairfax Annual General Meeting to deliver an open letter signed by over 6500 Australians calling on the Australian Financial Review (AFR) to ditch its biased coverage of carbon risk and climate change.

The group, coordinated by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and Australia, delivered shareholders their morning edition of the Australian Fossil Fuel Review containing the open letter and an award for the AFR’s unbalanced coverage.

Since the ANU announced it would sell off shares in seven resource companies including Santos and Oil Search, the Australian Financial Review has published over 53 stories criticising the decision. 12 front pages have attacked the ANU.

By contrast the potential merger between Glencore and Rio Tinto to create a $183 billion mining giant only warranted 31 pieces of coverage and China’s imposition of new tariffs on Australian coal, a decision which will deal a serious blow to Australia’s struggling coal industry, gained a mere 19 articles from the free-market paper.

Further, there was almost no coverage of the huge financial risks to fossil fuel assets from rising government action against greenhouse gas emissions and falling renewables costs.

“The AFR seems to think ANU’s small decision is the biggest story of our time. But the real story here is the hundreds of billions at risk in the carbon bubble, and the fortunes being made in clean energy around the world” commented Tom Swann, student campaigner from Fossil Free ANU.

“It is testament to the stranglehold that the mining and fossil fuel industry has over the political and media powerhouses in Australia. Rather than lambasting the ANU for its financial decisions, the AFR should perhaps be paying more attention to what is being done to manage the financial risks posed by climate change.” Commented Lucy Manne, Co-Director of the Australian Youth

The Australian Financial Review is published by Fairfax Media Limited, a company whose largest shareholder is mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

Media Enquiries: Charlie Wood – 0427 485 233 / Tom Swann – 0412 166 490

Click here to see a copy of the Australian Fossil Free Review