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Fossil Free Books
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Over 170 literary industry representatives – including booksellers, literary events staff, and authors such as Naomi Klein, George Monbiot, Robert Macfarlane, Emma Dabiri, Rebecca Solnit, and Ben Okri – have signed Fossil Free Books’ statement calling on Baillie Gifford to divest from fossil fuel initiatives. 

Asset manager Baillie Gifford currently has up to £5bn invested in the fossil fuel industry, including the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) – minority stakeholder in the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) – and Petrobras.

Baillie Gifford are also key sponsors of 11 literary festivals in the UK, and one literary prize: Borders Book Festival, Boswell Book Festival, Bradford Literature Festival, Cambridge Literary Festival, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Hay Festival, Henley Literary Festival, Stratford Literary Festival, Wigtown Book Festival, Wimbledon BookFest, and The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction.

Launching today, Fossil Free Books is a movement organised by literary industry professionals for a books industry free from fossil fuel finance. Fossil Free Books are asking all literary festivals and prizes sponsored by Baillie Gifford to use their unique relationship with the firm to call for Baillie Gifford to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

Some authors plan to read this statement out during their events at upcoming festivals sponsored by Baillie Gifford, including Wimbledon and Cheltenham Literature Festivals.

The launch of Fossil Free Books follows an open letter sent to the Edinburgh International Books Festival in August. Signed by over 100 authors, it asked the festival to call on Baillie Gifford to divest from fossil fuels. Now, Fossil Free Books are urging all UK literature festivals currently receiving sponsorship from Baillie Gifford to join them in calling on Baillie Gifford to divest from fossil fuels.

Ellen Miles, environmental campaigner and author of Get Guerrilla Gardening, added:

“We’re organising as workers because these festivals are our livelihoods and we care about them deeply. We don’t want to shut these events down, nor can we afford to. What we want is for festivals to join us in asking Baillie Gifford to do the right thing and move its funds away from fossil fuel companies like Petrobras and the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). Given that these investments constitute just 2.3% of their overall portfolio, it should be achievable for Baillie Gifford to divest from these initiatives, while continuing to support the UK literary scene.

“Literature festivals invite us to speak about the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. But we can’t speak about the climate crisis while ignoring the destructive outcomes of funding fossil fuel development. That’s why we hope to work with (not against) these festivals, to come together in calling on Baillie Gifford to divest from all fossil fuel initiatives.”

Jessica Gaitán Johannesson, climate justice organiser and author of The Nerves and Their Endings said: 

“Baillie Gifford’s Asia fund currently includes the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), a company with a minority stake in one of the most harmful fossil fuel projects in the world: the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). If it goes ahead, EACOP will destroy homes, livelihoods and protected ecology in Uganda and Tanzania. Already, it’s displacing people from their homes. Activists on the ground are asking those of us in the Global North to stop the flow of money to EACOP. I’m asking Baillie Gifford in solidarity with them.

The literary community here in the UK has a unique relationship to Baillie Gifford. I believe we must use this relationship to ask Baillie Gifford to remove CNOOC and all other fossil fuel companies from its portfolios.”

Award-winning activist and author of Spinning Out: Climate Change, Mental Health and Fighting for a Better Future Charlie Hertzog Young said:

“UK literary festivals have an incredible opportunity – they can help move billions of pounds away from fossil fuel projects around the world because of their unique relationship to Baillie Gifford. Festivals are already doing a great job at platforming and empowering the climate movement. Now they’re in a position to make a huge material difference. Words matter. So do actions.”

Fossil Free Books are a group campaigning for a books industry free from fossil fuels and fossil free finance. 


Call to action: Add your name to the list of signatories here: