CONTROVERSY OVER LOBBY FIRM ‘HYPOCRISY’

An investment firm which funnels hundreds of millions of pounds into the fossil fuel industry has been attacked for “hypocrisy” after it urged the Scottish Government to cut carbon pollution.

A Ferret investigation has revealed that Edinburgh-based fund manager, Baillie Gifford, owns nearly £400 million worth of shares in nine global oil, gas and coal companies.

In 2019, however, the firm lobbied the Scottish environment minister, Roseanna Cunningham, left, to work towards “making Scotland a carbon neutral economy”. It said this would be good for the nation – and for Baillie Gifford.

The Holyrood parliament and Minister Roseanna Cunningham. 

MSPs and campaigners have now called on the firm, which has been the target of environmental protests, to stop investing in fossil fuels. They accused it of failing to practice what it preaches, and said it cannot be trusted on climate change.

In July, 2019, Baillie Gifford hosted a climate roundtable meeting at the Edinburgh Science Festival, of which it was a “headline sponsor“. Four of the firm’s representatives attended: Andrew Telfer, Michael Pye, Tim Garratt and Diane Esson.

Other business representatives and non-governmental groups were present, along with Cunningham and Cristiana Figueres, the United Nations diplomat credited with securing the crucial 2015 Paris climate change agreement.

Baillie Gifford has described the meeting in an entry in the Scottish Parliament’s lobbying register. The purpose was “to discuss some of the ideas that are being shaped to help Scotland claim its status as the global leader on climate change,” it said.

To make this “tangible”, the group was to be asked how it could lead “a concerted, collaborative and transformative approach,” the firm added.

“We were encouraging the Scottish Government to work with industry, public bodies and the public towards making Scotland a carbon neutral economy. We were discussing this because we believe that it is in the long term interests of both Baillie Gifford and Scotland.”

After the meeting, Edinburgh Science Festival tweeted its thanks to Baillie Gifford for hosting the event and said that the company “are making big steps towards sustainability both internally and externally through work groups and sponsorships”.


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