Climate activists stage a 'sleep over' at the London Science Museum

Climate activists stage a ‘sleep over’ at the London Science Museum in protest against fossil fuel sponsorship

  • Around 30 members of the UK Student Climate Network launched a protest 
  • Spent the night sleeping on the floor of the Science Museum’s lobby 
  • Group held a candlelit vigil for the ‘victims of the museum’s fossil fuel sponsors’ 

Young climate activists last night staged a ‘sleep over’ at the London Science Museum in protest against fossil fuel sponsorship.

Around 30 members of the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) spent the night in sleeping bags on the floor of the museum’s lobby, where they had access to toilets.

The group held a candlelit vigil for the ‘victims of the museum’s fossil fuel sponsors: Shell, BP, Equinor and Adani’ before making origami shells into the early hours.

Photographs showed the protesters sleeping at 3.30am around an origami design that read ‘drop shell’ on the floor.

The demonstrators spoke to the museum’s first visitors of the day this morning to tell them about the establishment’s sponsorship deals with fossil fuel companies.

The Metropolitan Police said officers were in attendance but no arrests were made because the museum gave the group permission to stay the night.

Photographs showed the protesters sleeping at 3.30am around an origami design that read ‘drop shell’ on the floor

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

Miss Warren, from west London, said: ‘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.’

Entry to the museum is free. 

She added: ‘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.’ 

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.

UK Student Climate Network protest against the Science Museum´s sponsorship deals with fossil fuel companies

Biologist Dr Alexander Penson, who took part in the sit-in, said it was ‘appalling’ that the museum was persisting in fossil fuel sponsorship and starting a new relationship with Adani.

The group held a candlelit vigil. Pictured, one of the protesters wore a themed mask

In an Instagram Live video by UKSCN London from inside the museum, he said: ‘The way that they tell it is that they are working with the green energy arm of the company and they then just forget about the coal.

‘We can all agree that we need new green infrastructure, that we need green jobs… but you can’t just then forget about the dirty infrastructure that we need to retire.’

The museum has also faced criticism for partnering with Shell to fund its Our Future Planet 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, meaning the museum cannot say anything that could damage Shell’s reputation.

UKSCN activists tried 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 also previously staged demonstrations outside the Science Museum, alongside activists from the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion.

Conglomerate Adani is set to sponsor the Science Museum’s new ‘green energy gallery’

Around 30 members of the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) spent the night in sleeping bags on the floor of the museum’s lobby, where they had access to toilets. They spent time making origami shapes (pictured)

The demonstrators spoke to the museum’s first visitors of the day this morning to tell them about the establishment’s sponsorship deals with fossil fuel companies

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

Ines, 17, a member of UKSCN London, said: ‘We are less than a week away from the start of Cop26. Now is the time to abolish fossil fuel companies, not collaborate with them or invite them into our cultural spaces.

‘The Science Museum’s senior management and board have shut down any attempt at a conversation with young activists and scientists.

‘Meanwhile, they are welcoming some of the worst perpetrators of the climate crisis with open arms. 

‘The Science Museum needs to seriously rethink its sponsorship deals before it loses its remaining credibility and legitimacy as a scientific institution.’

The occupiers negotiated with museum staff to be moved from the second floor of the building to the Energy Hall near the main entrance so that they would have access to toilets for the whole night, they said in a video posted to Twitter.

The protesters kept Twitter up to date with their activities, which included making origami shells at 2.30am

UKSCN London had earlier tweeted that the institution was ‘denying us access to basic safety and hygiene by locking the toilets and refusing to give us safe, sanitary and dignified toilet facilities’.

The Science Museum has been approached for comment.

In a press release announcing the new Energy Revolution gallery, due to open in 2023, the museum said it will examine ‘how the world can undergo the fastest energy transition in history to curb climate change’.

Dame Mary Archer, chair of the Science Museum Group, said: ‘We’re hugely grateful to Adani Green Energy for the significant financial support they are providing for this gallery.’

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

A spokesperson 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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