Youth climate activists last night occupied the Science Museum in London in protest of the museum’s sponsorship deals with fossil fuel companies such as BP, Shell, Adani, and Equinor. 30 activists from UKSCN London are involved in the protest, with more holding a candlelit vigil outside for the victims of the fossil fuel industries.
The Science Museum has come under particular scrutiny for its ties with fossil fuels after it announced that its Energy Revolution gallery would be sponsored by Adani, a group that deals in coal, the most polluting fossil fuel. This protest from UKSCN follows a similar one in June that was in response to the museum’s Our Future Planet exhibit being sponsored by oil company Shell. The protest ended early after protesters were met by over 30 police officers who threatened to arrest them. The protesters decided to exit peacefully.
On this occasion the protesters were able to stay the night, holding livestreams and displaying banners as the vigil also took place outside the building. Izzy, 17, a member of UKSCN, said: “We chose to take this action today because the Science Museum has consistently refused to engage with any other tactics. We’ve tried petitions, letters, boycotts and protests, all of which have been met with silence.
“The Science Museum’s director is failing to do his job by sacrificing the museum's reputation and credibility for his own admiration of fossil fuel companies. He repeatedly emphasises the importance of engaging with the oil and coal industry while the legitimate concerns of young people, scientists and impacted communities have been ignored, diminished and sidelined.
“The director of a publicly funded museum shouldn’t be defending the coal industry and the Science Museum shouldn’t belong to the corporations causing the climate crisis; it is time for young people and scientists to reclaim this space from its destructive sponsors.”
The museum’s director, Ian Blatchford, has come under fire for dismissing the concerns of indigenous people who have been negatively affected by Adani. Indigenous Traditional Owner of land Adrian Burragubba and member of the Wangan and the Jagalingou Tribal Warriors protest group was targeted by Adani, and stated that “by putting this company on a pedestal, the Science Museum is complicit in Adani’s violation of our Human Rights and destruction of our ancestral lands”. In response to this, Blatchford said on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row that they should also be “looking at other voices”, and claimed that there is “certainly a great tendency for some campaigners to exaggerate very significantly those issues”.
Burraguba responded that it is “a shame that institutions like the British Museum would even consider taking a donation from a mining company […] that just seeks to rob indigenous people of their human rights”.
The campaign StopAdani have also criticised Blatchford’s actions, saying that his “dismissal of @WJWarriors' voices on @BBCSounds in favour of platitudes from Adani unveils the despicable colonial arrogance behind the British @sciencemuseum's decision to platform such a destructive company. We must listen and stand with First Nations people.”