Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Hot on the heels of the Guardian divestment scandal, and 350.org and Rockefellers divestment “issues”, it now turns out that, as of 31st December 2014, the BBC is also heavily invested in oil and tobacco.
Despite some dalliance with green groups, such as Shell Oil’s hookup with CRU scientists back in 2000, according to Wikipedia, Shell remains very much a traditional oil and gas business.
Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading. It has minor renewable energy activities in the form of biofuels and wind.
Top of the list of BBC pension investments is a stake in Baidu, the Chinese internet services company. According to Wikipedia, Baidu has attracted significant controversy over its alleged censorship of web search results.
According to the China Digital Times, Baidu has a long history of being the most proactive and restrictive online censor in the search arena. Documents leaked in April 2009 from an employee in Baidu’s internal monitoring and censorship department show a long list of blocked websites and censored topics on Baidu search.
In May 2011, pro-democracy activists sued Baidu for violating the U.S. constitution by the censorship it conducts in accord with the demand of the Chinese government. A U.S. judge has ruled that the Chinese search engine Baidu has the right to block pro-democracy works from its query results, dismissing a lawsuit that sought to punish the company for Internet censorship.
Big tobacco also features on the list. 6th on the list of top BBC pension investments is a £31 million investment in Imperial Tobacco, which according to Wikipedia is the fourth largest cigarette manufacturer in the world.
The rest of the list contains a rich assortment of resources companies, media companies (including Tencent, another major Chinese media company), big banks, high tech, and other businesses.
Note this is not the complete list – the BBC website claims that the list Does not include any assets held in pooled funds.. The £1.2 billion represented by entries on the list cannot be the entire BBC pension fund, unless they have suffered major losses since the days of their big green pension play.
Nevertheless this does, in my opinion, qualify the BBC as being yet another group of green hypocrites – something worth considering, next time you view BBC content which discusses fossil fuel divestment, or a BBC article which discusses tobacco.