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Thousands call for Science Museum to drop controversial Shell sponsorship

‘A museum dedicated to science education should not be helping promote any company that is actively exacerbating this planetary emergency until they show a serious proactive drive to switch to renewables’

Tens of thousands of people have urged the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry to drop Shell as a sponsor from an upcoming event.

The announcement that the museum’s new exhibition, “Electricity: the spark of life”, would be supported by the oil giant sparked controversy among local groups.

Critics described the decision to partner with the company as a sign that for the museum “money is more important than tackling climate change”.

Specifically, they have highlighted the role that fossil fuels play in driving global climate change and the role that oil companies have played in the phenomenon.

A petition with over 57,000 signatures has been handed to the museum as the Manchester Science Festival, which includes the new exhibition.

The action comes after emails released under a freedom of information request revealed that many organisations had expressed doubts about the sponsorship and three pulled out entirely.

One of those was Manchester group Carbon Coop, which was due to host a series of events over the course of the festival.

‘Making the decision to campaign against an organisation that you have worked with is not easy,” said Laura Williams, a member of campaign group 38 Degrees and Carbon Coop. “The museum is meant to be a place to show the positive role that technology could play in transforming our world. Their decision to take sponsorship from Shell is a betrayal of this.”

Figures including natural history broadcaster Chris Packham and Manchester-based climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson have supported the campaign.

“A museum dedicated to science education should not be helping promote any company that is actively exacerbating this planetary emergency until they show a serious proactive drive to switch to renewables,” said Packham.

In addition to the petition, which was handed to museum by a group of local children and parents, 77 artists, campaigners, politicians and local organisations signed an open letter to museum director Sally MacDonald, calling for the sponsorship to be dropped.

The action is part of a wider movement calling for an end to oil sponsorship of cultural institutions.

Last week the Van Gogh Museum and two other Dutch museums announced they would end their sponsorship deals with Shell following efforts by local campaigners.

The Independent has contacted the Museum of Science and Industry for comment.

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