Story by email@example.com (Hannah Getahun) • 16h 08082023
Climate Change Activist Greta Thunberg accused a large investment management firm of greenwashing. Thunberg decided not to speak at a book festival as a result.
The company released a statement, saying its ties to the fossil fuel industry were insignificant.
Greta Thunberg will no longer appear at a large Scottish book festival this week, saying she does not want to be “associated with events” connected to the fossil fuel industry.
The climate activist was set to appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, starting August 12, for an event called “Greta Thunberg: It’s Not Too Late to Change the World,” but said Friday she would no longer attend, accusing the main sponsor, Baillie Gifford, an investment management firm based in the UK, of “greenwashing.”
Greenwashing refers to a phenomenon of companies or firms that outwardly market themselves as environmentally conscious but, in practice, fail to live up to those standards. An example is when critics accused Coca-Cola and the United Nations of greenwashing the 2022 COP27 climate talks, citing plastic pollution from the company’s products.
Fast-fashion companies like H&M and Zara also get accused of greenwashing for promoting recycling initiatives while millions of tons of their polyester and nylon clothes end up in landfills.
“As a climate activist I cannot attend an event which receives sponsorship from Baillie Gifford, who invest heavily in the fossil fuel industry,” Thunberg said in a statement released through the festival’s website. “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 statement, Baillie Gifford said it was not “a significant fossil fuel investor” and that “only 2% of our clients’ money is invested in companies with some business related to fossil fuels.”
Thunberg’s decision to opt out of the festival comes after an investigative news site in Scotland known as The Ferret reported that Baillie Gifford’s investments tied to the fossil fuel industry (or firms that profit from it) total up to $4.5 billion.
Nick Barley, the festival’s director, responded in the same statement, defending the firm’s support of the book festival.
“I share Greta’s view that in all areas of society, the rate of progress is not enough,” Barley wrote. “However, in applauding Greta for standing by her principles, we too must stand by ours. “He added: “The Book Festival exists to give a platform for debate and discussion around key issues affecting humanity today – including the climate emergency…We strongly believe that Baillie Gifford are part of the solution to the climate emergency. “This is not the first time the investment firm has been criticized for its holdings in the fossil fuel industry. In 2020, The Ferret also published a story highlighting the company’s shares in fossil fuel companies.