Young climate activists ‘occupy’ Science Museum in sponsorship of fossil fuels

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Thirty young climate activists “occupied” the Science Museum in London on Tuesday evening to protest its sponsorship deals with fossil fuel companies.

Members of the London branch of the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN London) held a candlelight vigil at the famous monument dedicated to the “victims of the museum’s fossil fuel sponsors: Shell BP, Equinor and Adani”.

Photos of the group were posted to social media overnight, with some members making origami seashells until the early hours of the morning, while a photo of sleeping activists was posted at 3.30am and another at 5.40am.

The group confirmed at 6 a.m. on Wednesday that they would start leaving the building after staying there for 12 hours.

A UKSCN London spokesperson said the protesters successfully negotiated to stay in the museum overnight, where they deployed banners and hosted live broadcasts on social media.

Metropolitan Police said officers were present but then left the scene. No arrests were made.

A spokesperson said: “At approximately 5:40 pm on Tuesday October 26, police were informed of a protest inside and outside a museum on Exhibition Road, SW7.

“Officers attended and engaged with protesters and museum staff.

“The protesters said their intention was to stay in the museum overnight. This was accepted by the museum staff. No further police action was required and there were no arrests. “

The protest comes after the Science Museum announced a new gallery last week, called Energy Revolution: The Adani Green Energy Gallery, which is supported by a subsidiary of the Adani Group.

Adani is a multinational conglomerate involved in coal mining and coal-fired power plants.

Biologist Dr Alexander Penson, who took part in the sit-in, said it was “appalling” that the museum persisted in sponsorship of fossil fuels and began a new relationship with Adani.

In a UKSCN London Instagram Live video from inside the museum, he said: “The way they say it is that they work with the green energy arm of the company and then forget about the coal.

“We can all agree that we need new green infrastructure, that we need green jobs… but then you can’t forget about the dirty infrastructure we need to retire. “

The museum has also been criticized for partnering with Shell to fund its Our Future Planet exhibit on carbon capture and storage and nature-based solutions to the climate crisis.

The deal with the fossil fuel giant included a gag clause, committing the museum not to say anything that could damage Shell’s reputation.

Protesters protested against Science Museum sponsorship deals with fossil fuel companies

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UKSCN activists tried to spend the night in the museum in June to protest Shell’s sponsorship, but abandoned the movement when threatened with arrest by police officers.

The group also held protests outside the Science Museum, alongside activists from the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion.

UKSCN London member Ines, 17, said: “We are less than a week from the start of Cop26.

“Now is the time to abolish fossil fuel companies, not collaborate with them or invite them into our cultural spaces.

Protesters in front of the building on Tuesday evening

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“The senior management and board of the Science Museum have stopped all attempts at conversation with young activists and scientists.

“In the meantime, they welcome with open arms some of the worst authors of the climate crisis … The Science Museum must seriously rethink its sponsorship arrangements before it loses its credibility and legitimacy as a scientific institution.”

The occupants have negotiated with museum staff to be moved from the second floor of the building to the Energy Hall near the main entrance so that they have access to the toilet throughout the night, they said in a video posted on Twitter.

UKSCN London had previously tweeted that the institution “denies us access to basic safety and hygiene by locking the toilets and refusing to provide us with a safe, hygienic and dignified toilet”.

The Science Museum has been approached for comment.

In a press release announcing the new Energy Revolution gallery, slated to open in 2023, the museum said it would examine “how the world can undergo the fastest energy transition in history to curb climate change” .

Dame Mary Archer, President of the Science Museum Group, said: “We are extremely grateful to Adani Green Energy for the significant financial support they provide to this gallery.”

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