Greta Thunberg Bows Out of Event Over 'Greenwashing'

Climate activist cites sponsorship from investment firm with ties to fossil fuels
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2023 12:55 PM CDT
Greta Thunberg Bows Out of Event Over 'Greenwashing'
Climate activist Greta Thunberg waits for a hearing in a court in Malmo, Sweden, Monday, July 24, 2023.   (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Greta Thunberg has pulled out of an international book festival, where she was slated to discuss her recent book on climate change, due to what she claims is "greenwashing" by the festival's main sponsor. The climate activist said she would not attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival, to run from Aug. 12 to 28, due to the sponsorship of the Baillie Gifford investment firm, which she said "invest[s] heavily in the fossil fuel industry," per the BBC. She added she could not be associated with "greenwashing efforts by the fossil fuel industry, including sponsorship of cultural events," which "allow them to keep the social license to continue operating."

The 20-year-old's decision to withdraw comes days after investigative news site the Ferret reported that Baillie Gifford had up to $6.4 billion invested in companies that profit from fossil fuels at the end of last year. Edinburgh-based Baillie Gifford, which has sponsored the book festival for 19 years, disputed Thunberg's illustration of it, claiming just 2% of its clients' funds are invested in companies with fossil fuel-related business, compared to a market average of 11%. It added 5% of its clients' money "is invested in companies whose sole purpose is to develop clean energy solutions."

Festival director Nick Barley defended the firm. "We strongly believe that Baillie Gifford are part of the solution to the climate emergency" as "early investors in progressive climate positive companies, providing funds to help them grow," per the Guardian. He added he's "disappointed" but respects Thunberg's decision. He also apologized to the "hundreds of young climate campaigners" who'd been invited to Thunberg's speaking engagement at the Edinburgh Playhouse "because of their hard work to change the system in Scotland" and said tickets would be refunded. Thunberg had been scheduled to speak to an audience of up to 3,000. (She was just fined for participating in a fossil fuels protest.)

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