Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has decided to withdraw from the Edinburgh International Book Festival due to the festival’s sponsorship ties with Baillie Gifford, a company heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry. Thunberg accused the festival’s sponsor of “greenwashing” – providing a false appearance of environmental responsibility while still supporting environmentally harmful industries.
Thunberg, known for her fervent activism and dedication to combatting climate change, made a firm statement regarding her decision. She asserted, “As a climate activist, I cannot attend an event which receives sponsorship from Baillie Gifford, who invest heavily in the fossil fuel industry.”
The event, titled “It’s Not Too Late To Change The World,” was scheduled for August 13 and was set to take place in the 3,000-seat Playhouse theatre. Ticket sales for the event were incredibly rapid, with all tickets selling out in less than 24 hours.
Thunberg further explained her decision, highlighting the harmful consequences of allowing fossil fuel companies to sponsor cultural events. She stated, “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.”
In response to Thunberg’s decision, Baillie Gifford, a British investment firm that has been a long-term sponsor of the festival for 19 years, denied being a significant fossil fuel investor. They claimed that only a small portion, two percent, of their clients’ funds are invested in companies related to fossil fuels. Festival director Nick Barley also defended the sponsorship ties, emphasizing the essential support provided by organizations like Baillie Gifford to make the festival possible.
Barley explained, “As a charitable organization, we would not be in a position to provide that platform without the long-term support of organizations such as Baillie Gifford. The Book Festival exists to give a platform for debate and discussion around key issues affecting humanity today – including the climate emergency.”
Despite the differing perspectives, Barley expressed respect for Thunberg’s decision. He acknowledged her concerns and highlighted the festival’s mission to engage in discussions pertaining to pressing global issues.
Baillie Gifford also defended its position, asserting that it is actively working towards being part of the solution to the climate emergency. They claim to be committed to addressing environmental concerns in their investment strategies.
Thunberg’s decision to withdraw from the festival due to sponsorship ties marks another significant moment in her ongoing fight against climate change. With her strong stance against greenwashing, Thunberg continues to push for corporate accountability and sustainable practices in all sectors.
It is worth noting that Greta Thunberg has been actively involved in discussions and debates surrounding climate change. As a prominent figure in the climate activism movement, her decisions and statements carry immense weight and have the potential to influence key stakeholders in various industries. Thunberg’s dedication and courage to stand up for her convictions serve as a source of inspiration for countless individuals around the world.