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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
04 August 2023
Greta Thunberg cancels Edinburgh Book Festival appearance over ‘greenwashing’

Thunberg was due to speak at an event at the Edinburgh Playhouse called It's Not Too Late to Change the World | Alamy

Greta Thunberg cancels Edinburgh Book Festival appearance over ‘greenwashing’

Greta Thunberg has pulled out of her appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival because of its link to the fossil fuel industry.

The climate activist has been due to attend an event this month but has decided not to appear at the festival as it receives sponsorship from investment firm Baillie Gifford.  

Thunberg claimed that the firm, which has sponsored the festival for 19 years, “invests heavily in the fossil fuel industry” and has accused the industry of “greenwashing” by sponsoring cultural events.  

She said: “Greenwashing efforts by the fossil fuel industry, including sponsorship of cultural events, allow them to keep the social license to continue operating.

“I cannot and do not want to be associated with events that accept this kind of sponsorship.”

Thunberg was due to speak at an event at the Edinburgh Playhouse called It's Not Too Late to Change the World, in which she was expected to discuss her activism and her book, The Climate Book. She has not made a public appearance in Scotland since COP26 in 2021.  

Baillie Gifford says they are not a significant investor in fossil fuels and that only two per cent of its clients' money is invested in companies with business links to the industry.  

A spokesperson for the firm said: “Of those companies, some have already moved most of their business away from fossil fuels, and many are helping to drive the transition to clean energy.

“Currently, five per cent of our clients' money is invested in companies whose sole purpose is to develop clean energy solutions.”

The director of the festival Nick Barley said: “The Book Festival exists to give a platform for debate and discussion around key issues affecting humanity today - including the climate emergency.

"We would not be in a position to provide that platform without the long-term support of organisations such as Baillie Gifford.

"We strongly believe that Baillie Gifford are part of the solution to the climate emergency. They are early investors in progressive climate positive companies, providing funds to help them grow.”

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