Greta Thunberg has cancelled an appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in protest at a sponsors link to fossil fuels.

The Swedish climate activist was due to speak at an event on August 13 but said she was unable to attend because of Baillie Gifford's involvement.

She accused the Edinburgh-based firm of "greenwashing."

The asset management company is the lead sponsor for the festival. They rejected Ms Thurnberg's claims and said just 2% of their clients’ money was in oil and gas.

They were supported by Nick Barley, the book festival's director, who said that despite the billions of pounds of investment in fossil fuel firms, he strongly believed "that Baillie Gifford are part of the solution to the climate emergency."

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In a statement released through the Festival, Ms Thunberg said: “I am unfortunately unable to attend the Edinburgh Book Festival.

"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.”

The Herald: Crowds at the 2018 Edinburgh Internationa Book FestivalMs Thunberg's decision to cancel her appearance comes after analysis of the firm's investments by The Ferret.

Baillie Gifford’s total investments were worth £223bn at the end of 2022.

Based on this number, The Ferret calculated that the firm had approximately £4.5bn invested in companies involved with oil and gas, and around £670m in companies involved in the sale and mining of coal at that time.

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Responding to Ms Thunberg's statement a spokesperson for Baillie Gifford said: “We are not a significant fossil fuel investor.

“Only 2% of our clients’ money is invested in companies with some business related to fossil fuels.

“This compares to the market average of 11%. Of those companies, some have already moved most of their business away from fossil fuels, and many are helping to drive the transition to clean energy.

“We are investing on behalf of our clients to grow their savings and retirement funds. When we invest in companies on their behalf, we do so over long time periods – typically 10 years or more – so this has naturally led us away from traditional fossil fuel firms.

"Currently, 5% of our clients’ money is invested in companies whose sole purpose is to develop clean energy solutions.

“We believe in open debate and discussion which is why we are long-term supporters of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.”

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Mr Barley said that while he applauded Ms Thunberg "for standing by her principles" he would continue to work with Baillie Gifford.

"The Book Festival exists to give a platform for debate and discussion around key issues affecting humanity today – including the climate emergency.

“As a charitable organisation, we would not be in a position to provide that platform without the long-term support of organisations such as Baillie Gifford. 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.

“I apologise to all the people who bought tickets and were keen to meet Greta – and especially to the hundreds of young climate campaigners who we had invited to come along because of their hard work to change the system in Scotland.

"We will of course refund all ticket-buyers in full.”