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对话| 《卫报》主编的气候战役

本文原载于《中外对话》,作者伊莎贝尔•希尔顿。微思客经授权转载,如需转载,请联系作者。图片来自《中外对话》,为《卫报》主编艾伦•拉斯布里杰在办公室接受采访。

《卫报》主编的气候战役

伊莎贝尔•希尔顿

2015年5月末,担任《卫报》主编达20年的艾伦·拉斯布里杰即将离职。自1821年《卫报》编辑部在曼彻斯特成立以来,这份日报从未中断过发行,它的日发行量近20万份,网络版每月独立用户访问量达3600万。

艾伦·拉斯布里杰担任主编期间,《卫报》设立了在线环境专栏,每个月都能迎来世界各地数百万的读者。2014年12月下旬,拉斯布里杰决定利用其任期最后六个月的时间打一场气候战役。除在报纸和网络上发布大量关于气候变化的报道外,《卫报》还发起一项活动,劝说惠康基金会和盖茨基金会这两个世界上最大的慈善基金会撤出对化石燃料领域的投资。

目前,两家基金会均尚未同意撤回其化石燃料领域的投资,但《卫报》的这项活动已得到20万人的支持,并契合了世界范围内不断壮大的将化石燃料留在地下的运动。《卫报》还将其内部讨论的播客发布出来,解释为何选择这些目标,以及活动的目的是什么。

艾伦·拉斯布里杰最近接受中外对话采访,讲述了他为何选择气候变化,以及为何选择发起化石燃料领域的撤资活动作为自己的最后一项工作。

他说:“有一个念头总萦绕在我的脑海中,尽管我们有着非常优秀的环境报道团队和网络平台,但是对于这样一个或许非常重要的新闻事件,却根本没有记者来恰如其分地进行报道。我不希望自己离开编辑的岗位以后,就像人们常说的那样,有一天孙儿们坐在我的腿上,问我,你以前在一家大报社做编辑,你当时知道这个问题很重要,那么你做了什么?我不希望回头看时,感到自己本应做更多的事情,但却没有做到。”

美国气候活动家比尔·麦吉本告诉他,现在这已经不再只是环境问题,而是关乎政治和经济,拉斯布里杰对自己职业生涯里的最后一个活动有了具体的想法。在巴黎气候会谈即将召开的这一年,报社同仁就这项活动的核心议题展开了辩论。议题应该具备参与性强、通俗易懂的特点。为了更加清晰地传达自己在这一问题上的立场,最后他们选定发起化石燃料领域撤资运动这一议题。

研究显示,化石燃料领域的撤资现象产生的经济影响有好有坏;对此,拉斯布里杰表示认可,但他相信,不论如何,人们围绕撤资问题的讨论已经超越了道德层面。

他解释说:“一开始,我把它看做是一场道德领域的运动。但实际上,考虑到它所引发的变革,我觉得它已经超出了道德的范畴。”他要做的第一件事就是改变自己管理的机构——卫报传媒集团的投资政策。

“我们把想法告诉集团董事会,他们都是生意人,从未真正考虑过这个问题。他们把投资顾问召集起来,所有人听到后都倒吸了一口凉气,然后去做调查。”

再次讨论时,我们发现从务实的角度展开财务讨论才最有说服力。化石燃料公司并未获得过高额回报,投资顾问发现搁浅资产的观点令人信服。这种观点指出,如果要将全球平均气温升高控制在2摄氏度内,那么大型石油、天然气和煤炭公司拥有的化石燃料储备大部分都不能再被使用。这些在资产负债表上被列为资产的矿产将变得毫无价值。集团的投资顾问可不想留着即将失去价值的资产。

搁浅资产

拉斯布里杰说:“很多央行行长都开始担心搁置资产问题,比如马克·卡尼(英格兰银行行长)。你或许认为,宣布撤出投资的都是些不太重要的机构,比如洛克菲勒兄弟基金会、斯坦福大学、哈佛大学和卫报等。但是,如果人们意识到这就像次贷危机一样,关于钱的讨论就会开始转向。如果人们确定80%的煤炭都不能被开发,那么这就会给经济带来巨大的泡沫风险。而这个风险是你绝对不想置身其中的。”

尽管卫报的活动未对不同的化石燃料加以区分,但拉斯布里杰认为,活动还是成功地使气候变化再次成为公众辩论的话题。

他说:“我已经记不清在美国做过多少次采访了。报纸竟然会选择站队,他们都觉得很有意思。我能预见各方对此可能提出的种种批评,而这是一件大多数记者从未尝试过的事情。”

他认为,对于读者来说,气候变化的报道方式缺少吸引力。“人们对这个问题非常感兴趣,只是新闻报道的方式还不理想。”卫报发起的这项活动激起了报界和读者的热情,但拉斯布里杰表示:气候报道从来都不是一个能够让“新闻业倍感自豪的领域。”

反驳

他说:“人们对此很感兴趣,但是我们做这件事的方式还不够好。”成千上万人签署了请愿书,甚至还有人自发地给两个基金会写信,讲述他们的担忧。拉斯布里杰曾与惠康基金会和盖茨基金会私下交流,但并未期盼它们会尽早撤资。

“大多数基金会都设有管理委员会、财政委员会和捐赠基金委员会,他们必须按部就班地走完这些过场。”还有其他反驳的声音需要注意,如可以通过加强参与来更好地应对气候变化;化石燃料虽然不好,但是投资获得的收入却能用于有益的方面。拉斯布里杰对这两种观点都持怀疑态度。

“乔纳森·鲍里特(英国著名环保人士)过去四十年里一直跟化石燃料公司打交道,他表示对此没有什么可说的。任何一个慈善基金都应该思考,他们的慈善事业是否因为他们投资化石燃料而受到损害。”

成功的标志

如果各机构都不投资,那么如何来衡量成功与否?

拉斯布里杰说:“在某种意义上讲,我们已经成功了。”他列举了一些高层的反馈:

“阿尔·戈尔认为,我们已经取得了一些成就,只是现在还不明显。我跟坎特伯雷大主教会面,讨论教会撤资事宜,除了关于气候的通谕,教皇可能还会说一些关于撤资的事情。德斯蒙德·图图将其与(反对)种族隔离相提并论。尼克·斯特恩(著名气候经济学家)认为这触及到国家资助问题。”他认为,这项活动会像滚雪球一样,影响越来越大,并将有助于政治领导人制定有效的政策。

他认为,这些进展积累起来将推动撤资活动到达转折点。

一些知名的基金会已经放弃了煤炭投资,其中就有世界上最大的挪威主权基金以及靠标准石油公司的财富成立的洛克菲勒兄弟基金。私有部门的金融机构也感到撤回投资的压力在不断增加。

拉斯布里杰说:“成功不过如此,而这只是其中的一个方面。”

The Guardian’s editor on his climate change crusade

Isabel Hilton

At the end of May 2015, the editor-in-chief of The Guardian newspaper, Alan Rusbridger, will step down after 20 years in the post. The Guardian is a UK daily newspaper that has published continuously since it was founded, in Manchester, in 1821. It enjoys a daily print circulation of just under 200,000 and a monthly online readership of 36 million unique users.

Under Alan Rusbridger’s editorship, it has built an online environment section that attracts millions of readers from around the world every month, and, in late December 2014, Rusbridger decided to devote much of his last six months in the job to a campaign on climate change. In addition to publishing extensively on climate change in the newspaper and online,The Guardian has launched a campaign to persuade two of the world’s biggest charitable foundations, the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation to move their investments out of fossil fuels.

Neither foundation has – so far – agreed to withdraw from fossil fuel investments, but The Guardian’s campaign has gathered 200,000 supporters so far and tapped into the burgeoning global movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The paper is also publishing podcasts about its internal discussions that seek to explain why these targets were chosen and what the campaign hopes to achieve.

Alan Rusbridger sat down recently with chinadialogue to reflect on why he chose climate change and this divestment campaign as his legacy.

“It has always nagged away in the back of my mind that although we have an incredibly good environment team and a fantastic website, if this is the most important story, then no journalist on earth is doing justice to it. I didn’t want to stop being editor feeling that the proverbial grandchildren might sit on my knee and say, you used to edit an important newspaper, you knew this was important, what did you do? I didn’t want to look back and think that I should have done more, but I just didn’t,” he said.

When the US climate campaigner Bill McKibben told him that this was no longer a story about environment, but one about politics and economics, Rusbridger’s thoughts crystallised around one last campaign. The newspaper’s staff debated which issue should be at the heart of it, in the year of the Paris climate summit. It needed to be engaging and easy to understand. They settled on divestment, for the clarity of the message.

Rusbridger agrees that the research on divestment shows, at best, mixed economic results, but he believes, nevertheless, that the case for divestment is more than a moral argument.

“I began by thinking it was a moral campaign, but actually I think it’s better than that, in terms of what it changes,” he explained. The first thing he had to change was the investment policy of his own organisation, the Guardian Media Group (GMG).

“We talked to the GMG board: they are a bunch of business people who haven’t really thought about this. They called their investment advisors in, and everyone sucked their teeth, then went away to look at it.”

When the discussion resumed, it was the pragmatic financial arguments that proved persuasive: fossil fuel companies had not been giving great returns, and the investment advisers found the stranded assets argument convincing: this says that if the rise in global average temperatures is to be kept to 2C, most of the fossil reserves owned by major oil, gas and coal companies cannot be used. Their reserves, which are listed on their balance sheets as assets, are therefore effectively worthless. The GMG’s investment advisers did not want to be left holding assets that were losing their value.

Stranded assets

“Lots of central bankers, including Mark Carney, (the governor of the Bank of England) are already concerned about stranded assets,” said Rusbridger. “You could argue that none of the organisations that have announced divestment – Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Stamford University, Harvard University or The Guardian – is particularly significant. But if people realise that this is like sub-prime, the argument about the money begins to shift. If people decided that 80% of the coal, for instance, can never be burned, that’s a huge bubble that you don’t want to be in.”

Although The Guardian’s campaign makes no distinction between fossil fuels, Rusbridger argues that it has been successful in bringing climate change back into public debate.

“I have lost count of the number of interviews I have done in the US,” he said. “They say this is the most interesting thing they have seen. They are interested that a newspaper would take sides. I can see all the possible criticisms, but it is doing something that lots of other journalists have not managed to do.”

Journalism, he believes, has failed to cover climate change engagingly. “There is huge interest. But there is something about the way that journalism is doing it that hasn’t succeeded.” The campaign evoked enthusiasm in the newspaper and among the readers, but the history of climate coverage is not, Rusbridger says, “journalism’s finest hour.”

Counter arguments

“People are terribly passionate about this, but the way we were doing it was not quite clicking,” he said. Of the hundreds of thousands who have signed a petition, some have volunteered to be more active, writing letters to the two organisations and sharing their concerns. Rusbridger has had private discussions with both the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation, but does not anticipate an early divestment from either.

“Most places have governance committees and finance committees and endowment committees and they will all have to go through the cogs.” There are counter arguments to deal with – that more is achieved by engagement, and that although fossil fuels are bad, the revenue the investments produce is put to good use. Rusbridger is sceptical about both.

“Jonathon Porritt (a prominent British environmentalist) has been engaging with fossil fuel companies for 40 years and he says he has nothing to show for it. And any philanthropic foundation must think about whether the good they do is being undermined by the impact of the fossil fuels that they invest in.”

Signs of success?

But if organisations don’t invest, what is the measure of success?

“In a way we have succeeded already,” Rusbridger says, and lists a series of high level responses:

“Al Gore thinks this is achieving something not seen so far. I am meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss church divestment and the Pope may well say something about divestment in addition to his climate encyclical. Desmond Tutu is comparing it to (the campaign against) apartheid. Nick Stern (a leading climate economist) thinks it plays right into the issues of the subsidies.” The issue, he believes, could snowball and help political leaders to come up with effective policy.

Cumulatively, he believes, these various developments could mean the push for fossil fuel divestment reaches a tipping point.

Already, some high profile funds have ditched coal investments, including Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, built with profits from the Standard Oil fortune. Pressure is also ramping up on private sector financial institutions to cut the cord.

“Success,” says Rusbridger, “would look like that, and this would be one element in it.”

(作者伊莎贝尔•希尔顿,《中外对话》创办者和总编,曾供职于英国广播公司,现为《卫报》专栏作者,文章广泛发表于《金融时报》、《纽约时报》和《中参馆》等。本文翻译郭筝。)

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