Directors resign from Science Museum Group following Adani’s agreement

Science Museum Group (SMG) board members Jo Foster and Hannah Fry have resigned due to the organization’s new sponsorship deal with Adani Green Energy, an Indian conglomerate with significant interests in the coal industry.

Foster, director of the Institute for Research in Schools, and Fry, a mathematician well known for her television and radio work, announced their decision this weekend, on the eve of the crucial climate crisis summit in Cop26 in Glasgow where the SMG plays a key advocacy role.

In a social media statement, Fry said, “I do not support the recent deal with Adani and believe the museum needs to proactively engage with the reasonable concerns that oppose their position on sponsorship of the fossil fuels so that it can maintain its vital position as a leader. in the national conversation on the climate crisis.

Fry explained her reasons for resigning in a Times commentary, saying she was concerned that energy companies were portraying themselves as being in transition “while spending huge sums of money to create new mines and find new ones. oil fields “.

“I worry about how easily we are distracted by investing in renewables and storing carbon capture, not realizing that, with increasing global energy demand, this doesn’t mean nothing unless it causes a marked reduction in fossil fuel consumption, ”she said.

“But more than that, by allowing such public ties to these companies, I fear the Science Museum is giving the false impression that scientists believe the current efforts of the fossil fuel companies are enough to avert disaster.”

Fry also raised concerns that the SMG may lose public trust through its partnerships with fossil fuel companies.

“Being a credible and trustworthy voice is a fragile price that must be preserved above all,” she said. “The Science Museum should serve as a leader in the national conversation and provide an inspiring scientific platform on climate issues, but I don’t think it can do that until it speaks out openly about these. Questions.”

Young climate activists held a vigil outside the Science Museum last week

She criticized the SMG for reacting “defiantly” to “reasonable voices calling for change” after young climate strikers occupied the Science Museum overnight last week for the second time this year.

Fry said: “This is a debate where young people are leading the charge, and I cannot in good conscience remain in my position until the museum proactively engages with the very people it does. was designed to inspire. “

SMG Chairman of the Board, Mary Archer, said: “I have reluctantly accepted the resignation of Jo Foster and Hannah Fry from the Board of Directors of the Science Museum Group. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank Hannah and Jo for their important and appreciated contributions as directors.

“We fully respect their decision to step down, which reflects the views they expressed during recent board discussions on accepting sponsorship from Adani Green Energy, and they will both remain critical friends of the Science Museum.” Group.

“Solutions begin with difficult conversations, among friends, in individual organizations and on the global stage. Differences exist, but we agree on so many points, including the shared hope that the outcome of the ongoing COP26 talks in Scotland will be a new global consensus to act more urgently to deal with the threat. existential climate change. “

SMG Director Ian Blatchford has always championed the organization’s position on working with the fossil fuel industry, saying “the right approach is to engage, debate and challenge business.”

In its announcement of the Adani deal last month, which will see the conglomerate fund the Science Museum’s new Energy Revolution gallery, Blatchford said the board supported the partnership. He said: “The trustees […] are not convinced by the argument of some who say that we should sever all ties with organizations that are “tainted” by association, direct or indirect, with fossil fuels.

A showcase in the Our Future Planet exhibit that previously contained climate strike signs

The resignations follow former Science Museum director Chris Rapley’s decision to step down from the museum’s advisory board last month on the issue. The museum also removed several climate protest signs from its Our Future Planet exhibit recently after donors complained about Shell sponsorship of the exhibit.

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