Climate activist, Greta Thunberg has reportedly pulled out of an appearance at the Edinburgh book festival, accusing its lead sponsor of “greenwashing”.
According to reports, Thunberg was scheduled to speak at the 3,000-seat Playhouse theatre to discuss her appeal for climate action, It’s Not Too Late to Change the World, as part of a series of “climate positive” events at this year’s festival.
Her decision came after Scotland’s investigative news site The Ferret claimed that festival sponsor Baillie Gifford had billions invested in firms that profit from fossil fuels.
In a statement released through the festival, Thunberg was quoted as saying: “As a climate activist I cannot attend an event which receives sponsorship from Baillie Gifford, who invest heavily in the fossil fuel industry,”. “Greenwashing efforts by the fossil fuel industry, including sponsorship of cultural events, allow them to keep the social licence to continue operating. I cannot and do not want to be associated with events that accept this kind of sponsorship.”
A spokesperson for Baillie Gifford denied that the company was a significant fossil fuel investor.
Organisers had hoped that Thunberg’s appearance, along with Booker prize winners and political leaders, would help reverse last year’s dramatic decline in ticket sales.
Nick Barley, who is the festival’s director who is curating his last festival after 14 years in charge, said: “While I am disappointed that Greta will not be joining us on 13 August, I fully respect her decision. I share Greta’s view that in all areas of society the rate of progress is not enough.”
He defended Baillie Gifford’s sponsorship, saying: “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. While they acknowledge there is still work to do, we have seen them make rapid progress throughout our 19-year relationship”.
Story was adapted from the Guardian.