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Climate activists end overnight protest at Science Museum over fossil fuel sponsors

·4-min read

Young climate activists who slept overnight in London’s Science Museum have wrapped up their protest over the establishment’s sponsorship deals with fossil fuel companies.

Around 30 members of the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN London) camped in the museum’s lobby on Tuesday night, after holding a candlelit vigil for “the victims of the museum’s fossil fuel sponsors: Shell, BP, Equinor and Adani”.

The group tweeted on Wednesday that they had ended their “occupation” after 18 hours in the museum.

Earlier, the demonstrators approached museum visitors to inform them about its sponsors, with photos on social media showing them handing out leaflets and displaying a large banner near the main entrance that read “drop Shell sponsorship”.

UKSCN London tweeted: “Since the museum opened at 10am, we’ve been chatting to museum visitors and letting them know what we’ve been up to! the vast majority have been really supportive. @sciencemuseum when will you realise you are on the wrong side of history??”

Pictures of the group showed some members making origami shells into the early hours, while others napped in their sleeping bags at 3.30am.

The Metropolitan Police said officers attended the protest, but did not make any arrests as the museum agreed to allow the activists to remain overnight.

Demonstrator Izzy Warren, 17, said the group, which includes school pupils, university students and scientists, chose to occupy the museum because the owners had ignored their petitions, letters and boycotts.

Miss Warren, from west London, told the PA news agency: “We would really like to greet people who come to the museum this morning so they are aware of 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 has continued engaging with the fossil fuel industry while ignoring the concerns of young people, scientists, victims of the climate crisis and impacted communities.

“It’s time for young people and scientists to reclaim this space from its destructive sponsors.”

A spokesperson for the Science Museum said: “While dealing professionally and calmly with a small group of protesters, our team’s focus remains on the tens of thousands of people heading for an inspiring half-term day out at the Science Museum, where visitors can explore two exhibitions addressing aspects of climate change, the most urgent challenge facing humanity.”

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

Adani is a multinational conglomerate involved in coal extraction and coal-fired power stations.

Youth activists at the Science Museum
Youth climate activists hold a candlelit vigil (UKSCN/PA)

The museum has also faced heavy criticism for partnering with Shell to fund Our Future Planet, an exhibition about carbon capture and storage and nature-based solutions to the climate crisis.

The agreement with the fossil fuel giant included a gagging clause committing the museum not to say anything that could damage Shell’s reputation.

UKSCN activists attempted to spend the night in the museum in June in protest at the Shell sponsorship, but abandoned the move when they were threatened with arrest by police officers.

The group has also previously staged demonstrations outside the Science Museum alongside activists from the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion.

Youth climate activist at the Science Museum
Members of the UK Student Climate Network London staged a sleep-in at the museum (UKSCN/PA)

A spokesperson for the Met Police said: “Officers attended and engaged with the protesters and museum staff.

“The protesters stated their intention was to remain in the museum overnight. This was agreed to by museum staff.

“No further police action was required and there were no arrests.”

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