Climate activists occupy London Science Museum to protest sponsorship deals

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Young climate activists who occupied the London Science Museum overnight said they would approach the first visitors of the day to tell them about the organization’s sponsorship deals with fossil fuel companies.

Around 30 members of the UK’s Student Climate Network (UKSCN London) camped out in the lobby of the museum Tuesday night after holding a candlelight vigil to protest fossil fuel sponsors Shell, BP, Equinor and Adani.

The Metropolitan Police said police officers were ready and no arrests had been made.

17-year-old demonstrator Izzy Warren said the group of school students, college students and scientists chose to occupy the museum because it ignored the owners’ petitions, letters and boycotts.

Ms Warren, from West London, told the PA news agency: “We really want to greet the people who came to the museum this morning so they know what they are supporting and what they are paying for.

“The Science Museum is blatantly taking money from some of the worst perpetrators of the climate crisis. The director continued to engage with the fossil fuel industry while ignoring the concerns of youth, scientists, climate crisis victims and affected communities.

“It’s time for youth and scientists to reclaim this space from its disruptive sponsors.”

Climate change protesters gather outside the Science Museum at another protest earlier this month
Climate change protesters gather outside the Science Museum at another protest earlier this month

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

Adani is a multinational conglomerate operating in coal extraction and coal-fired power plants.

The museum has also faced criticism for partnering with Shell to fund the Our Future Planet exhibit on carbon capture and storage and nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. It also saw another protest ahead of Cop26 earlier this month.

Ines, 17, a UKSCN London member, said: “There’s less than a week until Cop26 starts. Now is the time to eliminate fossil fuel companies, not cooperate with them, or invite them into our cultural spaces.

“The Science Museum’s senior management and board has stopped any attempt to meet with young activists and scientists.

“Meanwhile, they are welcoming some of the worst perpetrators of the climate crisis with open arms… The Science Museum should seriously rethink its sponsorship deals before it loses its remaining credibility and legitimacy as a scientific institution.”

In a video posted on Twitter, the occupants said they had been negotiating with museum staff to be able to access the restrooms all night long to be relocated from the building’s second floor to the Energy Hall next to the main entrance.

UKSCN London has previously tweeted, saying the agency is “blocking our access to basic safety and hygiene by locking down toilets and refusing to give us safe, sanitary and respectable toilet facilities”.

The Science Museum was consulted for interpretation.

Met Police said officers joined the protest Tuesday evening but did not make any arrests as the museum agreed to let the activists stay overnight.

A spokesperson said: “Officers joined and contacted the protesters and museum staff. Protesters stated that their intention was to stay in the museum overnight. This was accepted by the museum staff.

“There was no need for further police intervention and there were no arrests.”

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