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A GROUP of scientists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) locked themselves to a mechanical tree in the Science Museum today to protest against the sponsorship of a new exhibition by Shell.
The group, who used bicycle cables and D-locks to lock themselves inside the exhibit on its opening day, said that the Science Museum’s decision to continue to accept the multinational oil and gas giant’s sponsorship gives legitimacy to its planetary destruction.
Scientists for XR wrote to Science Museum Group director Ian Blatchford in May asking that the museum cut all ties with big oil companies, which they say have an extensive track record of funding the distortion of science as well as countless accusations of human rights abuses.
XR said that, in his response, Mr Blatchford failed to address the points raised by the scientists, pointing to the museum’s efforts to decrease its own carbon footprint.
But they said he failed to address far greater effects of greenwashing the fossil fuel industry.
Scientists for XR held an alternative exhibit outside the museum to explain to visitors why the protest was happening.
They were joined by street performers and speakers, including representatives of the Ogoni people, whose land in the Niger Delta continues to be devastated by Shell’s activities.
Dr Caroline Vincent, a 58-year-old pharmaceutical industry consultant who locked herself inside the museum, said: “When I realised the extent of the crises we had created, I felt that I had no choice but to give up the job I loved, to dedicate myself to raising the alarm.
“I never imagined that I would have to lock myself to a railing at the Science Museum. But I have no choice. The management of the museum is not listening to reason and evidence.”
She called the sponsorship “smoke and mirrors” to allow Shell to carry on exploring for oil and gas.
“Shell is using the Science Museum to legitimise its crime,” she added.
A Shell spokesperson said the company has a longstanding relationship with the museum, “based on a shared interest in promoting engagement in science,” which will enable to address the climate challenge and provide cleaner energy solutions.
It told the Star that Shell aims to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050.
A spokesperson for the Science Museum said: “We received a peaceful protest from XR today.
“The peaceful protest took place without incident and was supervised by museum staff to ensure visitors continued to have safe access to the inspiration of our museum and to the vaccination centre.”
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