Sign the petition

Tell The New York Times: stop promoting fossil fuels!

The New York Times devotes an entire section to climate reporting, often featuring stories about the accelerating dangers of global heating on its own front page. Yet it also uses the power of its news brand to create and publish advertisements promoting the products causing dangerous global heating in the first place.

SIGN HERE to tell The New York Times to stop writing and running the reprehensible fossil-fuel #AdsNotFit2Print! By signing, you agree to End Climate Silence’s privacy policy.

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The campaign

In 1999, The New York Times decided to stop running tobacco ads because, they said, “we don’t want to expose our readers to advertising that may be dangerous to their health.”

Twenty-two years later, The New York Times is not only running, but actually writing ads promoting the fossil fuels that cause the climate crisis. It’s hard to imagine a greater threat to human health than the breakdown of our climate.

The Times promotes fossil fuels in at least three ways: 1) native advertising, 2) contextual advertising, and 3) podcast advertising.

1. NATIVE ADVERTISING

T-Brand Studios is the Times’ “custom content” advertising studio. It actively designs native advertising for fossil fuel companies like ExxonShell, and Chevron. These ads appear on the Times website and other properties. While the Times does mark these ads as paid posts, native advertising is deliberately designed to resemble the typesetting and prose style of New York Times journalism, blurring the distinction between ad and article. The Times uses these native ads to help fossil fuel companies spread disinformation.

For instance, in “Moving Forward: A Path to Net-Zero Emissions by 2070,” a visually engaging interactive 3D and augmented reality paid post, T-Brand Studios paints Shell as studying to reduce emissions in the transportation sector. Likewise, another paid post glowingly describes ExxonMobil’s research into algae and other biofuels. Both these paid posts misrepresent these companies as active partners in the clean energy transition.

As the nonpartisan International Energy Agency reports, in 2020, clean energy research and investments by the oil and gas industry, including Shell and Exxon, accounted for only around 1% of these companies’ total capital expenditure, much less than the industry spends annually on advertising and lobbying against climate policy. And upstream oil and gas investment actually rose 6% in 2019 and is expected to rise by about 10% in 2021. In other words, instead of finding ways to replace fossil fuels, oil and gas companies are finding ways to extract more of them.

But The New York Times publishing and advertising teams seem to deny or not to care that science and even the International Energy Agency itself tells us that oil and gas companies cannot develop any new reserves if we are to avoid catastrophic warming.

This implicit climate denial not only runs counter to The New York Times’ editorial acknowledgement of the reality of climate change, it flies in the face of the paper’s stated values—its promise to offer its readers only content that is fit to print. These ads are promoting fossil fuels and thus contributing to global heating. They are pouring fuel on the climate crisis, which is already killing people today. These ads are #AdsNotFit2Print.

2. CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING

The NYT advertising team works with brands to show their ads beside articles on similar topics, allowing fossil fuel companies such as Exxon to place their ads next to articles about real climate solutions and giving their misleading claims legitimacy by association. In addition to allowing brands to advertise by topic, the Times boasts that they target ads “to specific articles we predict will evoke particular emotions in our readers” as well as “to articles we predict will motivate our readers to take a particular action.” The New York Times is helping oil and gas companies motivate their readers to buy the very products causing life-threatening global heating. This is truly mind-boggling.

3. PODCAST ADVERTISING

Even though this practice has already led some subscribers to stop listening, The New York Times also provides fossil fuel companies such as Exxon and Shell with an advertising platform on its podcasts.

All New York Times readers need to make our voices heard! We need to tell the paper’s publishers that promoting fossil fuels and making global heating worse runs counter to our values and the values we expect from the paper of record. Promoting fossil fuels threatens our health and safety, our very lives, and should have no place in twenty-first-century journalism.

The campaign

In 1999, The New York Times decided to stop running tobacco ads because, they said, “we don’t want to expose our readers to advertising that may be dangerous to their health.”

Twenty-two years later, The New York Times is not only running, but actually writing ads promoting the fossil fuels that cause the climate crisis. It’s hard to imagine a greater threat to human health than the breakdown of our climate.

The Times promotes fossil fuels in at least three ways: 1) native advertising, 2) contextual advertising, and 3) podcast advertising.

1. NATIVE ADVERTISING

T-Brand Studios is the Times’ “custom content” advertising studio. It actively designs native advertising for fossil fuel companies like ExxonShell, and Chevron. These ads appear on the Times website and other properties. While the Times does mark these ads as paid posts, native advertising is deliberately designed to resemble the typesetting and prose style of New York Times journalism, blurring the distinction between ad and article. The Times uses these native ads to help fossil fuel companies spread disinformation.

For instance, in “Moving Forward: A Path to Net-Zero Emissions by 2070,” a visually engaging interactive 3D and augmented reality paid post, T-Brand Studios paints Shell as studying to reduce emissions in the transportation sector. Likewise, another paid post glowingly describes ExxonMobil’s research into algae and other biofuels. Both these paid posts misrepresent these companies as active partners in the clean energy transition.

As the nonpartisan International Energy Agency reports, in 2020, clean energy research and investments by the oil and gas industry, including Shell and Exxon, accounted for only around 1% of these companies’ total capital expenditure, much less than the industry spends annually on advertising and lobbying against climate policy. And upstream oil and gas investment actually rose 6% in 2019 and is expected to rise by about 10% in 2021. In other words, instead of finding ways to replace fossil fuels, oil and gas companies are finding ways to extract more of them.

But The New York Times publishing and advertising teams seem to deny or not to care that science and even the International Energy Agency itself tells us that oil and gas companies cannot develop any new reserves if we are to avoid catastrophic warming.

This implicit climate denial not only runs counter to The New York Times’ editorial acknowledgement of the reality of climate change, it flies in the face of the paper’s stated values—its promise to offer its readers only content that is fit to print. These ads are promoting fossil fuels and thus contributing to global heating. They are pouring fuel on the climate crisis, which is already killing people today. These ads are #AdsNotFit2Print.

2. CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING

The NYT advertising team works with brands to show their ads beside articles on similar topics, allowing fossil fuel companies such as Exxon to place their ads next to articles about real climate solutions and giving their misleading claims legitimacy by association. In addition to allowing brands to advertise by topic, the Times boasts that they target ads “to specific articles we predict will evoke particular emotions in our readers” as well as “to articles we predict will motivate our readers to take a particular action.” The New York Times is helping oil and gas companies motivate their readers to buy the very products causing life-threatening global heating. This is truly mind-boggling.

3. PODCAST ADVERTISING

Even though this practice has already led some subscribers to stop listening, The New York Times also provides fossil fuel companies such as Exxon and Shell with an advertising platform on its podcasts.

All New York Times readers need to make our voices heard! We need to tell the paper’s publishers that promoting fossil fuels and making global heating worse runs counter to our values and the values we expect from the paper of record. Promoting fossil fuels threatens our health and safety, our very lives, and should have no place in twenty-first-century journalism.

What’s the problem?

The Times’ support for fossil fuel ads is bad for:

Its readers

As the most prestigious platform for opinion leaders in the US, and as one of the most widely read newspapers in the world, The New York Times has a tremendous amount of influence. By promoting fossil fuels, the company legitimizes oil and gas companies’ greenwashing and boosts their social license to operate. In other words, by writing and running ads for oil and gas companies, The New York Times contributes directly to the climate crisis. This business practice endangers their readers—and everyone else—even now, as the climate crisis is only beginning to get underway.

Studies show that eliminating the majority of fossil-fuel emissions in the next fifty years would prevent roughly 4.5 million premature deaths, about 3.5 million hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and approximately 300 million lost workdays in the US alone. Phasing out fossil fuel use is a far greater health benefit than that of reduced tobacco use, yet The New York Times still sees fit to promote products that pose this existential threat to their readers’ health.

Itself

As the climate crisis continues to cause extreme human suffering and death, and entities from banks to government agencies to advertising firms increasingly seek to contribute to a net-zero economy, it’s simply indefensible for the Times to continue generating revenue from promoting the fossil fuel sector.

And by platforming ads from companies whose business practices so obviously contradict the findings of their journalism, The New York Times does themselves more harm than the revenue is worth: at least one study has found that “when a trusted publisher features native advertising for an untrustworthy brand, 43 percent of consumers lose trust in that publisher." The New York Times is already losing readers and listeners due to its fossil-fuel advertising. They will lose more as the climate crisis accelerates. They will especially lose young subscribers, who overwhelmingly cite the climate crisis as their most pressing concern, and who, ironically enough, compose the demographic advertisers are most concerned to reach. A move away from fossil fuel ads is therefore an opportunity to retain and attract subscribers—now the Times’ main revenue stream anyway—as well as other advertisers increasingly sensitive to brand integrity.

What’s the problem?

The Times’ support for fossil fuel ads is bad for:

Its readers

As the most prestigious platform for opinion leaders in the US, and as one of the most widely read newspapers in the world, The New York Times has a tremendous amount of influence. By promoting fossil fuels, the company legitimizes oil and gas companies’ greenwashing and boosts their social license to operate. In other words, by writing and running ads for oil and gas companies, The New York Times contributes directly to the climate crisis. This business practice endangers their readers—and everyone else—even now, as the climate crisis is only beginning to get underway.

Studies show that eliminating the majority of fossil-fuel emissions in the next fifty years would prevent roughly 4.5 million premature deaths, about 3.5 million hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and approximately 300 million lost workdays in the US alone. Phasing out fossil fuel use is a far greater health benefit than that of reduced tobacco use, yet The New York Times still sees fit to promote products that pose this existential threat to their readers’ health.

Itself

As the climate crisis continues to cause extreme human suffering and death, and entities from banks to government agencies to advertising firms increasingly seek to contribute to a net-zero economy, it’s simply indefensible for the Times to continue generating revenue from promoting the fossil fuel sector.

And by platforming ads from companies whose business practices so obviously contradict the findings of their journalism, The New York Times does themselves more harm than the revenue is worth: at least one study has found that “when a trusted publisher features native advertising for an untrustworthy brand, 43 percent of consumers lose trust in that publisher." The New York Times is already losing readers and listeners due to its fossil-fuel advertising. They will lose more as the climate crisis accelerates. They will especially lose young subscribers, who overwhelmingly cite the climate crisis as their most pressing concern, and who, ironically enough, compose the demographic advertisers are most concerned to reach. A move away from fossil fuel ads is therefore an opportunity to retain and attract subscribers—now the Times’ main revenue stream anyway—as well as other advertisers increasingly sensitive to brand integrity.

What’s the solution?

The New York Times should stop writing or running any print, online, or podcast ads for companies whose main business is the extraction or sale of fossil fuels. And it should help advance the solutions to the climate crisis by announcing its reasons for doing so, so that other news organizations can follow suit.

The Times already refuses to run ads that “promote or are funded by the use or sale of substances, services or products that…cause immediate bodily harm.” This category includes fossil fuels, as people are already dying from the climate crisis that fossil fuels are causing.

The publishers of The New York Times must know these facts. And they must know that fossil-fuel advertising undermines the credibility of its journalism. The paper has already said it will not allow oil and gas companies to sponsor its climate newsletter or its podcast “The Daily.”

With its business strategy focused on growing subscriptions, the Times could actually increase its revenue by advertising itself as the only major US paper leading the journalistic transition to net-zero—making itself more attractive to younger subscribers who could remain readers for decades to come.

Moving on from the #AdsNotFit2Print is a win/win/win: it benefits the paper, it benefits its readers, and it benefits the planet. The New York Times: stop promoting the #AdsNotFit2Print today!

What’s the solution?

The New York Times should stop writing or running any print, online, or podcast ads for companies whose main business is the extraction or sale of fossil fuels. And it should help advance the solutions to the climate crisis by announcing its reasons for doing so, so that other news organizations can follow suit.

The Times already refuses to run ads that “promote or are funded by the use or sale of substances, services or products that…cause immediate bodily harm.” This category includes fossil fuels, as people are already dying from the climate crisis that fossil fuels are causing.

The publishers of The New York Times must know these facts. And they must know that fossil-fuel advertising undermines the credibility of its journalism. The paper has already said it will not allow oil and gas companies to sponsor its climate newsletter or its podcast “The Daily.”

With its business strategy focused on growing subscriptions, the Times could actually increase its revenue by advertising itself as the only major US paper leading the journalistic transition to net-zero—making itself more attractive to younger subscribers who could remain readers for decades to come.

Moving on from the #AdsNotFit2Print is a win/win/win: it benefits the paper, it benefits its readers, and it benefits the planet. The New York Times: stop promoting the #AdsNotFit2Print today!

About Us

We are a coalition of NGOs, grassroots organizations, and journalists asking The New York Times to stop promoting the products causing the climate crisis. You can contact us at [email protected].

Campaign Partners

About Us

We are a coalition of NGOs, grassroots organizations, and journalists asking The New York Times to stop promoting the products causing the climate crisis. You can contact us at [email protected].

Campaign Partners