Activist and author Mikaela Loach staged a protest walkout at the Edinburgh Book Festival over the event’s sponsor’s link to fossil fuel companies.
Leading climate crisis author Mikaela Loach staged a walkout at the Edinburgh international book festival in protest against the event’s sponsor’s links to fossil fuel companies. The main investment company that sponsored the festival was Baillie Gifford.
Loach, who’s become a very well known author and climate activist, interrupted a discussion at the festival regarding climate change, and led a demonstration targeted at Baillie Gifford, the main sponsor of the event.
A video posted to Instagram on Sunday showed when Loach got up and accused the investment company of “bankrolling” the climate crisis: “Baillie Gifford are an investment firm that have £5bn of investments in the fossil fuel industry. Edinburgh book festival: you wouldn’t burn books, so why are you burning the planet? Drop Baillie Gifford,” she said.
“I can’t actually in good faith continue just talking about these issues without doing something, especially given that the festival is sponsored by an investment firm that is bankrolling this climate crisis.”
Before leading the audience to the street with chants of “hey, hey, ho, ho – Baillie Gifford’s got to go,” she choked back tears as she discussed the detrimental effects of global warming. “I think, especially recently, if you look across the world, Maui is literally on fire as we’ve seen right now,” she stated.
“I don’t know if my ancestral land will still be there if I have children or if I have descendants. And the reason for this is because of investments in fossil fuels.”
She also stated that she would much rather be talking about her book, ‘It’s Not That Radical: Climate Action to Transform Our World,’ with her fellow panelists then having to leave the event to stage a protest.
“The reason for this is because of fossil fuel companies not caring about the climate crisis, whether they say they do or not. So we have to remove that finance from them, any tactic that we can, we have to stop them from being able to exist.”
More than 50 authors sent an open letter to the festival this week, including Zadie Smith, Ali Smith, and Katherine Rundell, to drop any sponsor that invests in fossil fuels. This letter was sent after it was announced that Greta Thunberg was canceling her appearance at the festival after accusing Baillie Gifford of “greenwashing.”
In a previous statement from Nick Thomas, a partner at Baillie Gifford, said that the firm had nothing further to add in response to Thunberg pulling out of the festival, adding that it was “not a significant fossil fuel investor.”
Baillie Gifford has previously said that 2% of their clients’ money is invested in companies with more than 5% of their revenue coming from fossil fuels; the market average is 11%, according to reports. They also stated that they’ve invested more than double the proportion of their clients’ money “in companies dedicated to clean energy solutions.
The festival’s director, Nick Barley, responded to the open letter and thanked the authors for their dedication.
“We fully acknowledge your concerns about the devastating impact of fossil fuel exploitation on the climate: as individuals and as a charity, we firmly agree. For these reasons, we promise to think about your letter carefully. The last thing we want is to let anyone give the impression we are on opposite sides, Barley stated.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.