Extinction Rebellion protesters target Science Museum over Shell sponsorship

Dozens of climate crisis protesters have occupied the Science Museum in London and have refused to leave, in a protest against the oil firm Shell’s sponsorship of its exhibition about greenhouse gases.

Earlier, Extinction Rebellion protesters were escorted by police and members of the museum security team as they moved through the ground floor of the museum in South Kensington while about 200 supporters gathered outside.

They chanted “hey hey, ho ho, sponsor Shell has got to go” as those outside sang “no more petrol, no more diesel, funding fossil fuels is evil,” waved flags and banners, played drums and blew whistles.

Doctors, scientists and members of the climate campaign group addressed the crowd about the effect that fossil fuels are having on the planet. A 12-foot model of a pink dodo – the bird that was driven to extinction in the 17th century – was erected by protesters.

A group called Silent Rebellion sat outside in silence and appeared to meditate near the entrance to the museum.

By 6pm protesters were staging a “die-in”, with dozens lying on half of the ramp that leads to the entrance of the museum. Members of security at the museum urged them to keep one side of the ramp free for wheelchairs and pushchairs, which the protesters were doing.

Meanwhile, a blockade was set up outside the adjacent Natural History museum, with hundreds of protesters and supporters stopping traffic at the junction of Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road. A large blue van was parked on Cromwell Road and a man was on top of it holding an Extinction Rebellion banner. Police also blocked off the junction with a police van and a number of officers.

Extinction Rebellion has criticised the Science Museum for taking funding from Shell for the Our Future Planet exhibition, which began on 19 May and runs until September.

The climate activist Greta Thunberg has also hit out at Shell’s sponsorship after previous reports said the museum had signed a gagging clause over the exhibition funding.

The exhibition explores the technologies being developed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Dr Charlie Gardner, an associate senior lecturer in conservation science at the University of Kent, and a member of Scientists for Extinction Rebellion, said: “Shell, an oil company, is a major driver of the climate emergency. We find it unacceptable that a scientific institution, a great cultural institution such as the Science Museum, should be taking money, dirty money, from an oil company.

“Oil companies have invested heavily over the last three decades in undermining public confidence in science and it’s the reason why there are still, to this day, people that doubt or deny the existence of climate change. Oil companies have an anti-science agenda and yet the Science Museum is taking their money.

“The fact that Shell are able to sponsor this exhibition allows them to paint themselves as part of the solution to climate change, whereas they are, of course, at the heart of the problem.”

A Shell spokesperson said: “Our target is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society. Shell works with our customers to identify the best paths to decarbonisation; we seek to avoid, reduce and only then mitigate any remaining emissions.”

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