The local weather activist Greta Thunberg has pulled out of an look on the Edinburgh ebook competition, accusing its lead sponsor of “greenwashing”.
Thunberg was scheduled to talk on the 3,000-seat Playhouse theatre to debate her attraction for local weather motion, It’s Not Too Late to Change the World, as a part of a collection of “local weather optimistic” occasions at this yr’s competition.
Her resolution got here after Scotland’s investigative information website The Ferret claimed that competition sponsor Baillie Gifford had billions invested in companies that revenue from fossil fuels.
In an announcement launched by the competition, Thunberg mentioned: “As a local weather activist I can’t attend an occasion which receives sponsorship from Baillie Gifford, who make investments closely within the fossil gas business.
“Greenwashing efforts by the fossil gas business, together with sponsorship of cultural occasions, permit them to maintain the social licence to proceed working. I can’t and don’t wish to be related to occasions that settle for this sort of sponsorship.”
A spokesperson for Baillie Gifford denied the corporate was a major fossil gas investor.
Organisers had hoped that Thunberg’s look, together with Booker prize winners and political leaders, would assist reverse final yr’s dramatic decline in ticket gross sales.
Nick Barley, the competition’s director who’s curating his final competition after 14 years in cost, mentioned: “Whereas I’m upset that Greta is not going to be becoming a member of us on the 13 of August, I totally respect her resolution. I share Greta’s view that in all areas of society the speed of progress shouldn’t be sufficient.”
He defended Baillie Gifford’s sponsorship, saying: “We strongly consider that Baillie Gifford are a part of the answer to the local weather emergency. They’re early traders in progressive local weather optimistic firms, offering funds to assist them develop. Whereas they acknowledge there may be nonetheless work to do, we’ve seen them make fast progress all through our 19-year relationship”.
Barley apologised to all those that had purchased tickets for the occasion “and particularly to the tons of of younger local weather campaigners who we had invited to return alongside due to their laborious work to vary the system in Scotland”. He mentioned all tickets can be refunded in full.
In its personal assertion, Baillie Gifford mentioned: “We’re not a major fossil gas investor. Solely 2% of our purchasers’ cash is invested in firms with some enterprise associated to fossil fuels. This compares to the market common of 11%. Of these firms, some have already moved most of their enterprise away from fossil fuels, and lots of are serving to to drive the transition to scrub power”.
“We’re investing on behalf of our purchasers to develop their financial savings and retirement funds. Once we put money into firms on their behalf, we achieve this over very long time intervals – sometimes 10 years or extra – so this has naturally led us away from conventional fossil gas companies. At present, 5% of our purchasers’ cash is invested in firms whose sole objective is to develop clear power options.”