Activists Protest at London Science Museum Over New Sponsor Adani - The World News

Activists Protest at London Science Museum Over New Sponsor Adani

More than 150 people protested at London’s Science Museum recently in response to a new gallery sponsored by Adani, an Indian company with ties to coal mining and weapon production.

The gallery is dedicated to showing how renewable energy can help address climate change and opens on March 26. The Science Museum has been accused of “greenwashing” by allowing Adani Group’s renewable energy subsidiary to sponsor the gallery.

A video uploaded to X (formerly Twitter) shows activists protesting outside of the museum during its VIP opening the evening of March 21. On March 23, more than 150 people from several different environmental and social justice groups, including Scientists for Extinction Rebellion and Fossil Free London, protested inside the Science Museum.

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During the protest, a large banner was unfurled in the institution’s Energy Hall in reference to accusations that Adani has been removing people from the indigenous Adivasi community from their ancestral lands in India.

Activists have also accused Adani of profiting from Israel’s war in Gaza through its production of drones and its partnership with Elbit Systems, an Israeli weapons manufacturing company.

While the company did not respond to a request for comment from ARTnews, the head of Adani Green Energy told the Telegraph he was focused on finding solutions to climate change.

“Adani Green is making the transition happen and we are doing it on a very large scale. Not many people have heard of us in the UK but we are doing solar at probably the largest scale of any company anywhere in the world,” said Sagar Adani, the nephew of Adani Group’s cofounder and chairman Gautam Adani.

Adani said sponsoring the Science Museum is part of the company’s plan. “Bringing together people who care and who want to do something about it, not just making people cry or engaging in armchair activism,” he told the Telegraph. “Criticism is always welcome. But our focus is on solving problems.”

In response to the protests this weekend, Ian Blatchford, director and chief executive of the Science Museum Group, defended the choice of sponsor.

“Engaging our audiences with the science of climate change— the defining challenge of our time—is a key priority for the Science Museum Group,” he told the Art Newspaper, which first reported the news. “Our innovative new gallery will explore how we might achieve the urgent energy transition the world needs to see, a project made possible by generous sponsorship from Adani Green Energy, a major renewable energy business based in India whose huge population is expected to drive the biggest energy demand growth of any country in the world in the coming decades.”

Rhian Ashford from the Fossil Free Science Museum coalition said the museum had undermined its reputation by partnering with Adani.

“The Director of the Science Museum repeatedly refers to Adani Green as ‘a major renewable energy business’ but, every time, he fails to mention that the firm was literally used to help generate funds for the Adani Group’s vast Carmichael coal mine in Australia,” Ashford said in a written statement sent to ARTnews. “Governments and scientists agree that we must rapidly phase-out coal if we’re to reach net zero but the Adani Group is doing the exact opposite, taking lands from Indigenous communities in Australia and India in order to create new coal mines and power stations.”

In addition to running eight large airports, Adani Group is India’s biggest coal importer and a leading miner of the fossil fuel, burning much of it in the company’s eight power stations. It also operates the Carmichael coal mine in Australia, which has an annual yield of 60 million tonnes.

Last March, the research group Culture Unstained published an investigation into the partnership between the Science Museum and Adani that said it “was pushed through without the Board reviewing the Museum’s own report into the controversies surrounding the sponsor.” The Art Newspaper reported the investigation used documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests and showed the museum “had produced an internal due diligence report which identified instances of alleged corruption and fraud, as well as human rights concerns associated with the Adani Group.”

The Science Museum’s sponsorship agreement with Adani Group was announced in 2021. In response to the agreement, museum trustees Hannah Fry and Jo Foster resigned, and former director Chris Rapley stepped down from the institution’s advisory group. In 2022, the agreement also prompted a boycott by more than 400 teachers and educators and the cancelation of an event after two scientists withdrew their participation.

The Science Museum also has sponsorship agreements with fossil fuel companies BP and Equinor.

Activists also held pro-Palestine protests at the British Museum and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on March 24. The event at the British Museum highlighted the institution’s partnership with BP, and was organized by Energy Embargo for Palestine, a new UK-based group. The protest prompted the museum’s early closure.

The organization also launched a boycott campaign, urging members of the public not to visit the museum, to avoid professional collaborations, and to end memberships. The protestors cited news of BP being one of six companies that Israel’s energy ministry awarded gas exploration licenses last October.

The British Museum announced its own £50 million deal with BP last December. However, records of the institution’s board meetings showed trustees raised ethical and security concerns several months before the deal’s approval.

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