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by Staff reporter
05 October 2023
Nicola Sturgeon to appear at literature festival on Baillie Gifford stage

Nicola Sturgeon | Alamy

Nicola Sturgeon to appear at literature festival on Baillie Gifford stage

Nicola Sturgeon is to appear at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on a stage sponsored by Baillie Gifford.  

The in-conversation event with crime writer Val McDermid will discuss the author’s career, during which she has sold over 18 million books.

In August, the investment management firm, which is one of the festival's principal sponsors, came under fire from climate activists, namely Greta Thunberg, who cancelled her appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, accusing them of “greenwashing” by sponsoring the event.  

Thunberg said she could not attend an event that is sponsored by a company that “invest heavily in the fossil fuel industry”.  

Another climate activist, Mikaela Loach, cancelled her appearance for the same reason and accused Baillie Gifford of “bankrolling” the climate crisis.  

In response to the accusations made by Thunberg, Baillie Gifford said: “We are not a significant fossil fuel investor. Only two per cent of our clients’ money is invested in companies with some business related to fossil fuels. This compares to the market average of 11 per cent. 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.

"We are investing on behalf of our clients to grow their savings and retirement funds. When we invest in companies on their behalf, we do so over long time periods - typically 10 years or more - so this has naturally led us away from traditional fossil fuel firms. Currently, five per cent of our clients’ money is invested in companies whose sole purpose is to develop clean energy solutions.  

“We believe in open debate and discussion which is why we are long-term supporters of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.”

As first minister, Nicola Sturgeon was a strong proponent of making a just transition to renewable energy and argued last year that any new oil and gas licenses should be issued only if a “robust” climate compatibility check had been undertaken.  

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