A coal mining conglomerate is to fund a new Science Museum gallery on the “energy revolution” in the latest sponsorship controversy to hit the institution.
The new gallery at the 164-year-old central London museum will be sponsored by the wind and solar arm of the Adani Group, a controversial coal giant led by Indian billionaire Gautum Adani, it was announced today.
Writing on Twitter, Adani said the gallery would “explore how we can power the future through low carbon technologies” and be “a reminder of the power of the sun and the wind in our daily lives.”
It comes after board member, Chris Rapley, resigned over the museum’s “willingness to accept oil and gas company sponsorship”. The museum has seen protests over oil giant Shell sponsoring a climate exhibition, with a “gagging clause” where the museum agreed not to criticise its corporate sponsor. The museum also has “corporate partnerships” with Equinor and BP.
Jess Worth, co-director at Culture Unstained, a campaign group aiming to end fossil fuel sponsorship of culture, said: “Scientists, young people and even their own advisors were already walking away from the Science Museum over oil sponsorship. But astonishingly, the museum’s management has doubled down and signed up Adani – a coal conglomerate – to sponsor a gallery about the energy transition.
“Their enthusiasm for fossil fuel partnerships has turned controversy into a crisis of credibility, and they must be held to account for their reckless decisions. As COP26 approaches, the world needs climate leadership from the UK, not the unseemly sight of our once-renowned Science Museum jumping into bed with Big Coal.”
The new interactive gallery is due to open in 2023 and will replace the current “Atmosphere” exhibit, which has welcomed more than six million visitors since it opened a decade ago and counted the Met Office among its chief contributors.
In a press release, Dame Mary Archer, chair of the Science Museum Group, said the institution was “hugely grateful to Adani Green Energy for the significant financial support they are providing for this gallery”.
According to the briefing, the gallery will “explore the latest climate science and the energy revolution needed to cut global dependence on fossil fuels and achieve the Paris targets to limit global warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.
The Adani Group has faced opposition in India for its coal extraction and pollution, and protests over its Carmichael coal mine in Australia. President of the upcoming COP26 summit, Alok Sharma, has said he wanted to use the summit to “consign coal to history”.
While pledging to be carbon neutral and embracing renewable energy, the Adani Group is expanding its coal production by doubling its coal-fired power capacity to 24GW, according to analysis by the campaign group Market Forces of the Group’s own website and public statements.
Mia Watanabe, UK campaigner at Market Forces, said: “It’s shameful that the Science Museum is actively endorsing Adani, a company that’s massively expanding its fossil fuel projects. This is greenwash plain and simple.”
Ali Rowe, a campaigner from Extinction Rebellion added: “It is unconscionable that the Science Museum is taking money from Adani without balancing the impact Adani’s current investments have on the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.”
“Following the debacle with Shell sponsorship which resulted in vast public backlash, to partner with Adani feels as though the Science Museum has taken to trolling the public rather than being in service to it. Their action demonstrates a lack of moral conscience. It won’t be forgotten by young people.”
Adani is also expected to be among investors attending the government’s “global investment summit” at the museum today. Earlier this week DeSmog reported that the banks represented at the summit have financed over £700 billion in fossil fuels since the 2015 Paris Agreement, including £2.8 billion in the coal industry.
The Science Museum and the Adani Group have been contacted for further comment.