IT has had the worst kind of domino effect.

Last year Greta Thunberg pulled out of the Edinburgh Book Festival. She was not ­being ­directly sponsored, as it happens, by Baillie Gifford, but by the Open University in Scotland.

Then, this year, a particularly self ­righteous group styling themselves Fossil Free Books decided to target Edinburgh-based Baillie Gifford on ­account of its ­alleged links, in particular, to fossil fuels.

They browbeat the Hay Festival into turning down long-standing sponsorship threatening to “escalate” their protests. The venerable Edinburgh International Book Festival followed after similar threats were issued.

READ MORE: Borders Book Festival ends Baillie Gifford sponsorship 'with great regret'

Their staff were “put under ­intolerable pressure”, said Jenny Niven, the new Festival director. Borders and ­Wigtown book festivals also succumbed.

Fossil Free Books suggests: “We’re ­organising as workers for a books ­industry free from fossil fuels and fossil fuel ­finance.

Whether you’re an author, editor, agent, production editor, publicist, ­librarian, ­designer, proofreader, copy editor, ­bookseller or festival staff — we invite you to organise with us.”

Interesting usage of the verb “invite”.

No mention of the way in which all ­manner of writers and festivals were actually ­threatened with disruptive tactics.

Very little mention of why they chose to target an Edinburgh-based outfit which gives employment to some 1800 workers and is owned by its own senior partners.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has up to 400,000 visitors each year

No mention of the fact that even ­including petrol stations and windfarms with gas backups, its clients’ funds are ­invested in around 2% of any oil or gas-based concerns compared with the 11% ­average of other ­financial services.

And certainly no mention of the fact that it currently invests 6% of its clients’ money in companies actively seeking solutions to climate change.

Here is a company which built its reputation on backing future-facing ventures, which is presumably why its fund ­managers have little interest in the fossil fuel ­industry which looks like becoming yesterday’s news.

A company which went in early on electrical transportation as it could see where tomorrow’s world was going.

But it’s also a company which has a long-standing interest in backing cultural ­ventures like book festivals, and in fact has funded a prize for a non-fiction book since 2016.

In addition, it upped its ­sponsorship quite significantly to the ­Edinburgh event when a different principal sponsor dropped out.

Yet rumours persist that it is likely to pull out of that kind of activity altogether.

In short, unlike a lot of people in ­financial services or, for that matter many of the actual fossil fuel companies, BG has a wide philanthropic portfolio, not least in the cultural sector which is ­currently having to expend far too much creative energy trying to keep its shows on the road.

So what Fossil Free Books has done is ensured that a whole lot of readers and writers and festival staff will be short changed in the coming years as some book festivals will be forced to shut up shop.

These festivals have become a huge Scottish success story, not just for major conurbations like Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling, but for myriad towns and ­villages up and down the land.

They provide opportunities for authors to have a break from their essentially solitary work and meet their fans.

READ MORE: Wigtown Book Festival to end Baillie Gifford partnership

They provide opportunities for rural Scotland to interact with writers without having to travel long distances.

Most importantly, they have become ­forums for civilised debate and discussion around topical issues like, for a random instance, combatting climate change.

I don’t pretend to be a neutral voice here. Over these many years, I’ve been privileged to chair some amazing events at Scottish Book Festivals.

I’ve watched some of the biggest names in the literary world, and some brilliant newcomers, ­entrance and engage their audience. And their chair!

With some other enthusiasts, I even set up a book festival in my own rural ­fastness, which has grown over the years as locals who came to hear an author they liked, stayed on to hear lots of voices of whom they knew nothing.

That’s the joy and the serendipity of book festivals. Better yet, we’ve had folks through the doors to whom the joys of reading had never been properly ­imparted.

They learned that whatever their fiscal or physical limitations, the power of imagination could take them anywhere in the world.

This is what we stand to lose if we ­allow a posse of self-regarding vandals to ­portray themselves as the conscience of the nation.

We also lose the chance to have the ­public at large engage in the very debates FFB claim to care about. Plus, if they ­really want to go after fossil fuel ­culprits, there’s no shortage of villains to be named and shamed. And you can bet not many are pouring money into Scotland’s festivals.

A while back I was delighted to be the inaugural chair of the Dewar Arts Awards which gives money to talented young Scots across all the art forms who have exceptional talent but no funds to help them realise their potential.

Early on, I pompously indicated to the then portfolio managers that we would not have any truck with any company which engaged in arms production or ­tobacco or any of the other perceived ­nasties of that day.

READ MORE: Edinburgh book festival cuts ties with sponsor amid threat of boycotts

It was gently pointed out to me that while it might be possible to affect ­companies directly involved in such endeavours; when it came to managed funds, all kinds of subsidiaries and clients might be doing all manner of things of which we might disapprove and ­interference with whom it was beyond the ability of ­investment houses to affect.

In other words, ethical investing is a hugely complex business; one which is difficult to navigate even when you think you know what you’re doing.

To be frank, I don’t believe so called Fossil Free Books do know what they’re doing or ­understand whom they are harming most. But it certainly ain’t the oil giants.

It’s also worth pondering if the sainted Greta understood what events her ­gesture had set in train. She is undoubtedly a remarkable young woman. Her Friday school strikes captured the imagination of her peers worldwide.

She started a revolution.

Yet the thing about revolutions throughout history is that they tend to take on a life of their own.

They often attract people whose motivation we might believe is sound. Yet people who start by scaling the moral high ground tend to lose control of anyone clambering up after them. And unwittingly unleash untold damage to people whose aims are equally “pure”.

I’m truly sorry that Edinburgh, ­Borders, and Wigtown have felt obliged to ­capitulate to what seems to me both bullying and blackmail. As Hay in England did.

These alleged victories are truly ­Pyrrhic; they are not going to result in the smallest reduction in dangerous carbon generation.

They are not going to encourage any investor to pull the plug on fossil fuel ­activity.

What they will assuredly do, is ­persuade people inclined to support the arts to think twice and thrice about the ­possible penalties. Sponsorship of the arts is ­already an uphill task for those who try to prise open the fattest purses.

So well done Fossil Free Books. You have kicked the cultural sector when it’s down and trying hard not to go out.

You’ve stopped some of our best ­writers from travelling to events where they can get a respite from the lonely life of the ­author.

You’ve made sure that people whose life work has been to give audiences the chance for a very special experience, may go out of business altogether..

And you’ll find you’ve had precisely zero impact on the pressing need to ­address climate change and a fossil free environment.

Happy now? Very few of the rest of us are.