Yesterday, some of us teamed up with BP or Not BP to attend the ‘Science Museum Lates’ themed around the BP-sponsored Cosmonauts exhibition with the aim of highlighting BP’s environmental record, history of funding anti-science climate denial lobbyists and raising the question of its involvement with the Science Museum.
As scientists we believe that a company with such a history and a business model that is scientifically incompatible with a sustainable future, one where we limit the damage of climate change by limiting the global rise in temperature to 2C, should not be associated with a museum dedicated to the dissemination of science to the public.
We must stand by the research on climate change and not allow oil companies like BP and Shell [see note 1] to distort the narrative by sponsoring our scientific and cultural institutions. A “science museum” should not partner itself with a company that is disregarding the science and exploring for new sources of fossil fuels, at a time when we need to be leaving known sources of fossil fuels in the ground.
We hope to draw attention to this incompatibility of this company and other Fossil Fuel companies like it with Science and with the Science Museums acknowledgement of climate science and sustainability as a key theme of the decade.
The science museum has a duty to represent and communicate the scientific consensus. In 2016 we now have a well established scientific consensus on climate change and even an international political one through the Paris Agreement [see note 2] and this has to reflected at every level of the science museum including its funding partners.
1. The Science Museum has also had a controversial history with Shell, who sponsored the Climate Change exhibition. Questions were raised about to what degree shell was able to influence the content of the science.
Indeed, after the stir about it, the Science Museum declared it had now no plans to renew its deal with shell.
2. The Paris Agreement actually goes further than 2C and commits countries to attempt to pursue 1.5C as a safer target to aim for. The process of thought goes along these lines: Science says limiting increase in global mean temperate to 1.5-2C stands the best chance of minimising the possibility of runaway, catastrophic climate change. They then work backwards with climate science to calculate a range of emissions that would likely be responsible for such an increase. They then work out how much of the known fossil fuels reserves would give out that amount of emissions. Fossil fuel companies currently are not only planning to fully use their reserves but are also actively looking for more. Their forecasts appear to be in line with around 4C increase in global mean temperature (see note 3).
Sources and Further Reading:
IPCC summaries and documents on scientific consensus: http://www.ipcc.ch/
Full Paris Agreement text: https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf