Young people and scientists occupy Energy Revolution, a new gallery

Young people and scientists occupied Energy Revolution, a new gallery at London's Science Museum sponsored by the coal giant Adani.

(Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

UK Youth, Experts Occupy Coal-Sponsored Science Museum Gallery

"Why on Earth are we allowing a destructive industry to sponsor an educational exhibition whilst simultaneously setting fire to young people's futures?" asked Chris Packham.

A few dozen protesters from Youth Action for Climate Justice and Scientists for Extinction Rebellion this weekend occupied a new climate gallery at the Science Museum in London that is sponsored by the Indian coal and weapons giant Adani.

"To have a coal company sponsoring an exhibition on the future of energy is blatantly deceiving," Anya, a young person who occupied the Energy Revolution gallery, said in a statement. "Through this sponsorship deal, the Science Museum is helping Adani attach itself to the image of a positive and sustainable future when in reality it is a coal giant, weapons manufacturer, and genocide supporter. It's plain wrong for the Science Museum to be deceiving visitors, including young people like me, when it comes to the climate crisis."

The occupation came after over 150 people protested at the museum shortly before the gallery's opening last month. In response, an Adani representative claimed that the sponsorship—which has been condemned by climate action advocates since it was announced three years ago—was part of the company's effort to participate in the global energy transition. Ian Blatchford, director and chief executive of the Science Museum Group, defended the firm's involvement.

However, their comments didn't satisfy critics who participated in the weekend occupation. As Real Mediareported:

On Friday evening the activists smuggled in balloons and black paper which they used to create a large art piece—a mound of black coal—in the centre of the gallery. Their plan was to interact with the public on Saturday after their first night of occupation, including a People's Assembly to discuss the controversial sponsorship in the afternoon.

Police were called, but no arrests were made. However, perhaps embarrassed by the presence of the protest and their message about the climate-wrecking sponsors, the museum decided to prevent access to the gallery for the whole of Saturday, although supporters did come with more banners which they held near the entrance.

The protesters remained in the museum overnight on Saturday and ended their action on Sunday.

"It's not just Adani's brand that the Science Museum is greenwashing, they're also allowing the oil and gas giants BP and Equinor to sponsor their exhibits, disregarding the fact that these companies continue to expand fossil fuel production against the warnings of climate scientists," noted Aaron Thierry, one of the scientists who occupied the gallery.

"The latest science has shown we must leave the majority of fossil fuels unburned to prevent catastrophic changes to our climate," Thierry stressed. "That an institution like the Science Museum is working with such rouge companies is a disgrace. The museum's management needs to follow the example of Britain's other leading cultural institutions and drop all ties to the fossil fuel industry."

The young people and scientists were joined by naturalist and television presenter Chris Packham, who gave a speech Friday night.

"For me, science is the art of understanding truth and beauty and a lot of that beauty lies in the natural world. Science tells us that the fossil fuel industry is responsible for the accelerating destruction of our natural world," said Packham. "The Science Museum is a place to spark imagination, to provide answers but also to encourage us to ask questions."

"The question I'm asking today is a big one, 'Why on Earth are we allowing a destructive industry to sponsor an educational exhibition whilst simultaneously setting fire to young people's futures?'" he continued. "This is beyond greenwash—it's grotesque."

Packham emphasized that "we urgently need an 'Energy Revolution' to steer us away from the course of planetary destruction on which we are heading. We need a rapid, just transition to renewables—that revolution means an end to coal, and starts with the young people and scientists occupying this space this evening. Science tells us the truth, and the truth is that we must change."

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