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Climate activists stage protest against Shell at Science Museum

Activists say Shell’s sponsorship of an exhibition is ‘greenwashing’

Sunday 20 June 2021 17:36 BST

Youth climate activists have continued a protest against oil giant Shell at the Science Museum on Sunday after being threatened with arrest on Saturday.

Members of the London branch of the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN London) are demonstrating against the decision of the museum to accept sponsorship for the Our Future Planet exhibition, accusing Shell of “greenwashing.”

The exhibition will feature carbon capture and storage technologies and nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. Meanwhile Shell reportedly poured $25bn of investment into oil and gas in 2018 alone.

Izzy Warren, 17, an A-level student from west London, told PA: “The fact that Shell, an oil company, are sponsoring the exhibition is absurd. It's blatant greenwashing.”

UKSCN London said that, on Saturday evening, a team of police officers had arrived and threatened to arrest them when they tried to spend the night in the museum’s Kensington building.

“We hadn’t been given any warning that the police were coming, they just showed up,” Izzy said.

“They told us they ‘wouldn’t hesitate’ to arrest us all, they had the resources to arrest us all, and that they would arrest us all for aggravated trespass.”

The move prompted the group to abandon the protest for the night but return at 1pm on Sunday.

“(The Science Museum) continues to justify the sponsorship, and so the protest last night was us taking further action because further action needed to be taken,” Izzy said.

“It's really brought attention not just to the Shell sponsorship but also the lengths to which the Science Museum will go to protect that sponsorship deal.”

Groups such as Extinction Rebellion UK have come out in support of the protests tweeting: “London youth strikers are occupying the @sciencemuseum calling on them to drop @Shell. We along with @ScientistsX, @drop_BP and many others call on science museum to listen to the youth, and protect our future. There’s no future with #FossilFuels.”

Greenpeace UK have also shown support for the group asking the Science Museum to listen to UKSCN London and “Drop Shell immediately”.

Izzy added: “People are angry and rightfully so, and they will hopefully come and join us outside the museum now.”

An open letter to the museum published on UKSCN’s website said: “We condemn the Science Museum’s decision to accept this sponsorship and provide Shell with an opportunity for brazen greenwashing.”

It said Shell had a history of committing “horrific human rights violations” in the developing world.

The letter continued: “Solving the climate crisis goes beyond cutting carbon emissions; this must be a fight for climate justice.

“We stand alongside the activists in the Global South who face violence from fossil fuel corporations, such as Shell, and the communities who are and will be hit hardest by climate change, despite contributing the least to cause it.”

The Independent has approached the Science Museum for comment.

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