Science Museum signed Shell “gagging clause” and courted 12 oil companies

On 19th May, the Science Museum in London opened its new climate exhibition ‘Our Future Planet‘ – sponsored by the oil giant and major polluter Shell. Since the sponsorship deal was announced back in April, a major backlash has unfolded with scientists, youth climate activists, exhibition contributors and the wider public speaking out through protests, petitions and a youth-led boycott of the exhibition.

Now, emails and documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed disturbing new details about the museum’s handling of this hugely controversial sponsorship deal. This new briefing:

  • reveals details of a “gagging clause” in the museum’s contract with Shell
  • exposes how the exhibition was nearly sponsored by a consortium of twelve notorious oil and gas firms
  • lifts the lid on the museum’s flawed criteria for scrutinising its sponsors’ climate credentials
  • shows how the Director praised Shell and helped to promote its widely criticised climate plan
  • outlines how the museum dismissed ethical conflicts around Shell’s human rights and environmental record in its ‘due diligence’ process


  • The official contract with Shell reveals how the museum effectively signed up to a “gagging clause” that prevents it from making “any statement” that could be seen as damaging Shell’s reputation. This clause might be regarded as standard by the Science Museum Group (SMG) but, in this setting, it is hugely problematic. It essentially creates a “chilling effect”, where museum staff must refrain from speaking openly about the reality of Shell’s activities because it could be seen as damaging the company’s goodwill or reputation. This is a particular problem due to the contested nature of Shell’s business operations and the fact it is sponsoring an exhibition about climate change solutions.
  • Emails show how the Science Museum Group’s Director Ian Blatchford asked Shell to also “champion” efforts to get sponsorship from the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), an influential group of oil and gas CEOs including Exxon, Chevron, CNPC (China National Petroleum Company) and Saudi Aramco, that many argue was formed with the purpose of greenwashing their brands. Despite the museum repeatedly claiming that sponsors have no editorial influence, a member of the OGCI carbon capture team was put in direct touch with the exhibition’s curators. And a range of strategic opportunities for associating OGCI member companies with the exhibition and the legitimacy of the Science Museum brand was offered.

“Separately, we have been talking to the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative
(OGCI) about whether they could support the exhibition financially
given the organisation’s objectives, and they will imminently be
raising this proposal internally for consideration. Knowing that Shell
is a member of the OGCI, we wanted to alert you to this development
and hope that you might champion their support of the exhibition,
and/or indeed continue thinking about supporting it yourselves.”

  • At the eleventh hour, the Science Museum Group walked away from the proposed sponsorship deal with the OGCI because just one of its twelve member oil and gas companies had fallen short of the museum’s chosen standard for sponsors, the ratings given to them by the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI). Given the terrible past record and climate-crashing future plans of all members of the OGCI, this demonstrates just how weak the museum’s ethical criteria are. The bar the museum sets for its sponsors is far lower than the museum’s own aims on climate, which are to reduce its emissions in line with the Paris target of 1.5°C. This ethical mismatch has allowed the museum to justify Shell as the exhibition sponsor when its emissions reduction plans fall far short of what’s required for 1.5°C.
Members of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI)
  • Emails also reveal that Director Ian Blatchford uncritically praised Shell for its “net zero” strategy, a strategy which he later defended in a lengthy email to museum staff despite there being growing and widespread criticism of the company’s weak climate commitments. Blatchford’s response to the criticism? Proactively offering to set up a private event for Shell to promote its plans to a “select group of stakeholders”:
  • The museum’s own “due diligence” report on Shell had many gaps and the issues it did highlight were downplayed or dismissed, such as Shell’s links to human rights violations, and the company’s involvement in the spread of climate science disinformation. It shows the museum knew that legal action was underway at a Dutch court which, just a few weeks ago, ruled that Shell must radically change its current business plans in order to align with the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement. The SMG needs to ensure that its due diligence is comprehensive, up-to-date and that any fundamental ethical conflicts are acted upon and not ignored.


Click on the links below to jump to specific sections of this briefing, or scroll down:

  1. Science Museum signs “gagging clause” with sponsor Shell
  2. Director courts 12 major oil companies – with Shell’s help
  3. Science Museum walks away from sponsorship deal with oil industry group
  4. Director praises and promotes Shell’s loophole-ridden climate plan
  5. Ethical conflicts dismissed and ignored in museum’s report on Shell
Student climate strikers and XR Scientists protest against Shell’s sponsorship of ‘Our Future Planet’ inside and outside of the Science Museum last month.

1. Science Museum signs “gagging clause” with sponsor Shell

On 26th February 2021, Shell signed a contract with the Science Museum Group (SMG) to sponsor the ‘Our Future Planet’ exhibition, setting out various clauses and expectations for both the museum and the oil giant.

Scientists, youth activists and exhibition contributors have been speaking out ever since the sponsorship was made public in April, raising deep concerns about Shell’s record on climate change and human rights. But instead of addressing their concerns, the SMG’s Director Ian Blatchford, Science Director Roger Highfield and Chair of Trustees Mary Archer have all sidestepped the fundamental questions being asked about Shell’s business plans.

When asked to respond to the controversy, they simply repeat the mantra to journalists that Shell had “no editorial influence” over the exhibition and argue that oil companies have “the capital, geography, people and logistics to be major players in finding solutions to the urgent challenges of climate change” – even though no oil company is yet curbing emissions at the speed and scale we need.

It’s a carefully crafted response designed to play directly into the oil industry’s chosen narrative that companies can be trusted to manage their own transition away from fossil fuels, even though they have delayed and lobbied against climate action at every turn.

[Video] On Sky News, the SMG’s Science Director Roger Highfield dodges ethical questions about Shell and its record by repeatedly saying that the museum has editorial control.

A “gagging” clause to protect Shell’s reputation

Now, we appear to have uncovered one possible reason behind these vague and deflective defences of Shell’s sponsorship. Clause 6.7 of the Sponsorship Agreement prevents the Science Museum Group – and its trustees – from saying or doing anything that could be seen as “damaging the goodwill or reputation” of its sponsor. In effect, it is a form of gagging clause. [SCMG refers to the SMG’s commercial wing.]

This clause may be regarded as standard and uncontroversial by the Science Museum Group and some other organisations but, in this setting, it is highly problematic. It essentially creates a “chilling effect”, where museum staff must refrain from speaking openly about the reality of Shell’s activities because it could be seen as damaging the company’s goodwill or reputation. This is a particular problem due to the contested nature of Shell’s business operations and the fact it is sponsoring an exhibition about climate change – the exact area in which its operations and plans are so controversial and where there is a very active debate.

The Science Museum’s own due diligence report on Shell (see below) shows the museum is well aware of the major climate controversies surrounding the company, from its links to climate science disinformation to the Dutch court that recently ruled the company is not aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement and must curb its emissions by 45% by 2030. If the Science Museum staff or trustees told the truth about the problems with Shell’s business activities, as part of the wider ongoing debate about the role of oil companies in responding to climate change, would they face pressure from above or even legal action from Shell? And how can the ‘Our Future Planet’ exhibition promote open debate and discussion about climate solutions when the museum has signed a up to a clause that could prohibit it?

Another serious concern is that the decision taken by senior management and the Board to sign this clause has put other SMG employees and contractors in a very difficult and uncomfortable position. Hopefully, revealing the existence of the clause provides an opportunity to highlight the pressures museum staff are facing in a constructive way, but it’s important to also recognise and respect that staff will likely be unable to speak publicly about their situation. This should be of great concern to the museum sector as a whole.

The ‘Code of Ethics’ of the Museums Association – the museums sector’s membership body – states that:

“All those who work in and with museums should support free speech and freedom of expression.”


“Resist attempts to influence interpretation or content by particular interest groups, including lenders, donors and funders.”

From the Museums Association’s ‘Code of Ethics’

You can view the full Sponsorship Agreement by clicking here

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2. Director courts 12 major oil companies – with Shell’s help

There has already been a huge backlash to the decision to make Shell the ‘major sponsor’ of the ‘Our Future Planet’ exhibition. But emails released following FOI requests, and made available on the ‘What Do They Know’ website, reveal that Director Ian Blatchford also attempted to secure a significant sponsorship deal for the exhibition from a large and influential consortium of oil and gas company CEOs, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI).

The twelve members of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative.
None of these companies have committed to ending exploration for new oil and gas or have business plans that genuinely align with the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The group, founded in 2014, includes the museum’s existing three oil sponsors BP, Equinor and Shell as well as other notoriously irresponsible fossil fuel giants, such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, CNPC (China National Petroleum Company) and Saudi Aramco among its 12 members. The group is widely considered to be “nothing but a greenwashing effort” designed to frame the firms as climate leaders while they continue to extract unsustainable levels of oil and gas.

Asking Shell to “champion” involvement from OGCI

On 1st October 2020, Director Ian Blatchford wrote to a member of staff from Shell to let them know the museum had been in discussions with OGCI about a possible sponsorship deal and asked them to “champion their support of the exhibition”:

“Separately, we have been talking to the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative
(OGCI) about whether they could support the exhibition financially
given the organisation’s objectives, and they will imminently be
raising this proposal internally for consideration. Knowing that Shell
is a member of the OGCI, we wanted to alert you to this development
and hope that you might champion their support of the exhibition,
and/or indeed continue thinking about supporting it yourselves.”

At the conclusion of his email, Blatchford says the exhibition and the museum’s series of ‘Climate Talks’ will create “an important source of impartial, science based information” – but then immediately emphasises how these activities could represent a positive promotional opportunity for Shell:

During one of the SMG’s ‘Climate Talks’ on ‘The Future of Fuel’, hosted by broadcaster and journalist Samira Ahmed, the SMG’s Chair Mary Archer created exactly that kind of positive opportunity by explicitly defending Shell’s business and (attempting) to repeat the museum’s talking points in order to deflect criticism of Shell’s sponsorship.

The video below will automatically begin at the moment Samira Ahmed puts the question about Shell sponsorship to Mary Archer.

In response to Blatchford’s email, the staff member from Shell signals that they are well aware of the promotional potential the exhibition offers, suggesting that it could be worth approaching individual companies within OGCI that – like Shell – are keen to promote their involvement in CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage):

“I hadn’t heard that OGCI was considering sponsorship so will certainly
discuss that with our OGCI shareholder rep.

An alternate model is that key companies within OGCI, who are
developing UK focused and supporting CCUS clusters in
Scotland/Teeside/Humber etc, look to work together to support the
exhibition, which I do think is an important one with the clear
support from HMG on bringing forward at least 2 CCUS industrial
clusters by 2030. I have asked the team to reach out to their
counterparts in other CCUS-focused companies to look at this option
also. It may not be necessary if OGCI are prepared to support fully or
indeed workable with the current state of play with budgets in our
industry right now but I would like to assess feasibility, unless you
think not a good idea.”

While it’s no secret that Ian Blatchford is a backer of Big Oil, his correspondence with Shell reveals an eagerness to use an exhibition on climate solutions as a way to promote the oil and gas industry as a whole.

“Thank you for your offer below. Before taking up your valuable time
reaching out to other CCUS-focused companies, I suggest that we wait
to hear the outcome of our conversations with OGCI. We are in advanced
discussion and remain hopeful that they will commit to sponsoring the
exhibition to some extent. Our contact at the OGCI leading on the
proposal is [name removed] so any support your shareholder
representative could offer her would be greatly appreciated.”

[Note: Extracts 1, 2 and 3 were disclosed as part of the Science Museum Group’s initial response to scientist Alex Penson via the ‘What Do They Know?’ platform but then redacted in a subsequent version. The sections of text cited here have been provided on the ‘What Do They Know?’ platform as an annotation. The redacted disclosure made by the Science Museum Group is available to view by clicking below but not the original version that was disclosed in error.]

Click here to view the emails

‘Activating’ the sponsorship to help OGCI promote carbon capture

These new emails reveal that discussions with OGCI reached an advanced stage. As part of that, the Science Museum Group had set out in some detail the various concrete ways that the proposed sponsorship deal would benefit OGCI’s members such as Exxon, Chevron and Saudi Aramco:

The Science Museum has repeatedly said that its sponsors have no influence over its curatorial decisions and that it retains editorial independence. However, in an email sent on the 20th September 2020, a member of the OGCI team who focuses on CCUS is put in direct touch with the exhibition’s curation team. While OGCI might have ultimately had little input into the exhibition, this does call into question the museum’s assertion and suggests that the Science Museum was in fact actively seeking input on specific CCUS-related content for the exhibition from a highly controversial group of 12 oil and gas companies that have the explicit agenda of promoting their involvement in such “climate solutions” in order to justify their unsustainable levels of fossil fuel extraction.

Another concerning suggestion made by the Science Museum Group to OGCI was that its member companies could create “micro-sites” that would allow them to explicitly link their own CCUS projects to the content of the exhibition. Here, the museum was openly suggesting that OGCI and its members might be able to directly associate their promotion of CCUS with the exhibition, its content and the Science Museum brand. In fact, one of the examples presented to OGCI involved creating an interview with a museum curator, subtly blurring the distinctions between museum and sponsor. Even if there was no explicit editorial influence, the value of the sponsorship deal for OGCI arguably lies in this association of its members with the exhibition content and Science Museum brand, a way of lending much needed social and scientific legitimately to their controversial promotion of CCUS.

A further email also indicates how OGCI had been particularly interested in how the exhibition might be replicated at museums in “cities/countries where our partners are located”, using so-called “blue print packs” created by the Science Museum.

This particular approach of replicating exhibits in other countries, providing an opportunity for sponsors to promote themselves in locations where they operate, has been undertaken before by the SMG. When the Science Museum’s ‘Energy Gallery’ was created in close collaboration with BP, similar exhibits were then created for a new ‘Caspian Energy Centre’ – funded by BP – and located at the company’s Sangachal terminal near Baku, its base for drilling in Azerbaijan. Created in 2005, it was re-framed as “a multimedia experience of the history of oil and gas exploration and its future benefits”.

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3. Science Museum walks away from sponsorship with oil industry group

We recently revealed how on the 29th April, Director of the Science Museum Group Ian Blatchford sent a lengthy message to his entire staff, defending the exhibition and its sponsorship by Shell. Within that message, he highlighted how the museum had “walked away from one potentially significant sponsorship this year”, supposedly due to concerns around the sponsor’s record on climate change. Now, thanks to an FOI submitted by scientist Alex Penson, we can reveal that it was the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative’s proposed sponsorship of the ‘Our Future Planet’ exhibition that the museum walked away from – but only at the eleventh hour.

Director of the Science Museum Group, Ian Blatchford

While this shows that the SMG can reject a sponsorship deal over concerns about climate change, in many ways this particular decision raises more questions than it answers:

  • Why had the SMG got as far as the “decision phase” with this group of notorious and controversial oil companies before backing out of the sponsorship deal?
  • Why had the SMG initially been eager to help the OGCI use the exhibition to promote its members’ involvement in carbon capture, and also introduced OGCI to the curation team?
  • Why was OGCI rejected because of the climate record of just one of its members, when other members also have terrible climate records and grossly inadequate plans to address their future impacts?
The CEOs of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

The Science Museum’s flawed climate criteria for assessing sponsors

In recent years, many partnerships between major museums and Shell have been ended, from the National Gallery to the Southbank Centre in the UK, and from the Van Gogh Museum to the NEMO Science Museum in the Netherlands. But the Director of the SMG has stood firmly by the oil industry, telling the FT in 2019 that:

Even if the Science Museum were lavishly publicly funded, I would still want to have sponsorship from the oil companies.

However, in a partial attempt to counter its critics, in November 2020 the Science Museum announced with a fanfare that it had become the first cultural institution to join the ‘Transition Pathway Initiative‘ (TPI), an organisation set up by investors that assesses “companies’ preparedness for the transition to a low-carbon economy”. The museum indicated that it would now use the TPI’s tool in order to assess its own partners or potential partners.

While that might sound good, the TPI tool simply isn’t an effective way of assessing a sponsor’s suitability or its commitment to climate action. It is a tool designed for investors that assesses whether companies are thinking about climate risk, publishing data or setting targets, but not whether they are actually delivering on those targets. And it doesn’t score them on whether their business plans are in line with Paris climate targets.

In fact, TPI have made it clear that no oil and gas major is currently on a pathway to 2°C, let alone the more ambitious target of 1.5°C set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. If you look at TPI’s website, this fact is clear to see, but as this does not affect oil and gas companies’ ‘Management Quality Index’ scores, which the SMG is using, companies can still pass that with flying colours while falling far short on what the world – and the science – actually needs them to do.

In its recent report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) made clear that there can be no investment in new oil, gas and coal if we are to meet the 1.5°C target in the Paris Agreement – but oil and gas companies, including those in the OGCI, are continuing to invest billions in doing exactly that. In fact, Shell currently holds a 30% stake in the new Cambo oil and gas field off the coast of Shetland, which the UK government is controversially considering approving in the run-up to the COP26 Climate Summit.

Science Museum walks away from OGCI but makes Shell ‘major sponsor’

The reason the Science Museum Group walked away from a sponsorship deal with OGCI at the eleventh hour wasn’t because it finally acknowledged that the 12 members of the group were are all failing to do what the climate science demands and that none of these oil and gas firms are on a pathway to 1.5°C. Instead, it appears that it was because just one of the member companies – Saudi Aramco – had not reached level three in the assessment TPI had made in October 2020 based on whether it had ‘integrated climate into operational decision making’.

In the following email, the Science Museum sets out its apparent reasoning for stepping away from the sponsorship deal with OGCI.

The museum shouldn’t have needed to use the TPI tool to figure out that state oil company Saudi Aramco is not ‘on a journey to decarbonize’. Indeed, the Saudi oil minister has vowed to pump ‘every last molecule’ of the country’s oil. Bizarrely, the museum seems not to have had a problem with the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), another OGCI member, even though the TPI score for Petrochina, its commercial arm, is even worse than Saudi Aramco’s, demonstrating the arbitrary way in which this tool is being applied.

This raises some questions that the museum now needs to answer:

  • Why did the Science Museum make reaching level three of a four-level tool – that was designed for investors concerned about corporate governance – its red line for deciding whether a sponsor is appropriate, and not whether these companies are on a pathway aligned with the Paris Targets?
  • How could it decide that companies like Exxon, Chevron, CNPC and, of course, Shell – companies with massive carbon emissions and a track record of decades of scientific denial and disastrous delays – are acceptable sponsors for an exhibition about climate solutions?
  • Why has the museum not been ethically consistent and made aligning with 1.5°C – the aim it has set for its own operations – the threshold it expects potential sponsors to meet too?

By joining TPI and announcing that it now uses its assessment tool, the Science Museum has been able to misleadingly claim that it is carefully scrutinising its oil sponsors, and to erroneously suggest that the companies it is partnering with – BP, Shell and Equinor – are taking adequate climate action.

So while Saudi Aramco’s poor performance appears to have prevented OGCI from being taken on as a sponsor, this misuse of the TPI tool has given the museum the cover it needed to make Shell the ‘major sponsor’ of its ‘Our Future Planet’ exhibition. And this, in theory, also leaves the door open to sponsorship deals with other OGCI companies. Perhaps a more appropriate tool for the Science Museum Group to use in future is the recent World Benchmarking Alliance report on the Oil and Gas sector which measures and ranks the 100 most influential companies on their progress to the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5°C. The OGCI’s best-ranked member, Eni, gets a less than 50% score, with many of its members languishing much lower in the ranks – a sign of the huge problem we have if we continue to let the fossil fuel industry determine its own emissions reductions pathways on climate change, rather than requiring companies to adopt business plans in line with 1.5°C before they are given a seat at the table or the legitimacy of a sponsorship deal.

To pick just one example of the companies the SMG appears happy to partner with, a joint investigation between Unearthed and Channel 4 News recently lifted the lid on how Exxon, which scores only 5.2/100 in the World Benchmarking Alliance ranks, is continuing to oppose and undermine climate action.

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4. Director praises Shell’s loophole-ridden climate plan and offers special event with stakeholders

In February, with the Shell sponsorship agreed and just three months before the new exhibition was due to open, the oil firm was in touch with Ian Blatchford once again and with the aim of promoting its “Powering Progress” strategy and its claim that it would now aim to reach net zero.

Many climate scientists, campaigners and analysts have disputed Shell’s claims in this area and shown that its stated aim of reaching net zero by 2050 isn’t backed up by concrete plans to phase out oil and gas, instead appearing to rely on the fundamentally flawed approach of continuing to burn fossil fuels and capturing/offsetting its emissions through mass tree-planting and as-yet-unproven CCS technology. This was powerfully summed up in the recent ruling by a Dutch court:

“[Shell’s] policy intentions and ambitions for the Shell group largely amount to rather intangible, undefined and non-binding plans for the long-term”


“[Shell’s] emissions reduction targets for 2030 are lacking completely”

However, Ian Blatchford uncritically accepts Shell’s claims of going net zero and, instead, praises the company:

Transition Pathway Initiative’s (TPI) latest assessment, which Blatchford refers to, put a misleadingly positive spin on Shell’s “net zero” plans. The actual assessment undertaken by TPI had found that no oil and gas major – including Shell – is aligned with ‘net zero’ or a pathway to 1.5°C. In fact, TPI all but accuses Shell of lying, saying that “Shell’s claim that it will be aligned with a 1.5°C climate scenario is not consistent with our analysis.” And TPI isn’t alone in its finding. Climate Action 100+, Oil Change International, Carbon Tracker, a Dutch court and 30% of Shell’s own shareholders all agree that the company’s climate plans fall short.

As mentioned above, the International Energy Agency published a report in May which said that no investment in new oil, gas and coal is possible if the world is to have any hope of staying below 1.5°C. Shell spent $611 million on new exploration in 2020, up from $281 million in the previous year.

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Despite Shell’s shortcomings, Director offers firm “a special event” with stakeholders

Back in February 2021, we revealed how the Science Museum Group’s Director actively helped another of the museum’s oil sponsors – BP – to counter criticism of its sponsorship deals, including by inviting representatives of the company to speak at sessions for museum staff and trustees which were billed as “an opportunity to understand why the energy sector sponsors cultural organisations”.

In these new emails, Blatchford was all too keen to offer Shell a similar – if not more high-profile – opportunity to promote its plans:

A member of staff from Shell replied:

In his recent email to his 1,300 staff sent in April, Director Ian Blatchford asserted that taking money from Shell:

“…keeps how well they [the oil sponsors] convert their promises into action under review. It is arguably better that we help to keep them publicly accountable on the museum ‘stage’ helped “to keep [Shell] publicly accountable on the museum ‘stage’”

However, rather than holding Shell publicly accountable, its clear that the Science Museum’s Director priority has been to actively defend Shell’s business and protect it from necessary scrutiny, through gagging clauses and special stakeholder events held behind closed doors. As highlighted earlier, the ‘Code of Ethics’ of the Museums Association – the museums sector’s membership body – states that:

“All those who work in and with museums should support free speech and freedom of expression.”


“Resist attempts to influence interpretation or content by particular interest groups, including lenders, donors and funders.” 

In reality, Blatchford and the SMG’s Chair Mary Archer have repeatedly defended their oil sponsors from public scrutiny and instead offered them valuable opportunities to promote their plans in forums where there would be little to no public accountability.

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5. Ethical conflicts dismissed and ignored in “due diligence” on Shell

Before signing a new sponsorship deal, it’s standard practice to carry out what is known as “due diligence”, where you undertake some basic research on the history and background of the potential sponsor. Following our Freedom of Information request, the SMG has released its due diligence report on Shell which shows the museum identified many significant controversies but chose to overlook them. The report overwhelmingly cites articles and sources from around five years ago, ignoring the latest reporting and several landmark legal rulings against the oil giant on climate change and its impacts in the Niger Delta. And although the report was being produced by the Science Museum Group, it notably lacks reference to research by leading scientists and experts in the field.

Paragraph 3.6 from the Museums Association’s ‘Code of Ethics’ sets out its expectations around exercising due diligence

The SMG’s due diligence report is clear that Shell is being considered as a potential sponsor of an exhibition on climate solutions and yet, at the outset, Shell’s “principal activities” are identified as the exploration, development and production of oil and fossil gas – one of the main drivers of climate change.

Importantly, the report highlights that Miliedefensie (aka Friends of the Earth Netherlands) was in the process of taking legal action against Shell which could ultimately force the company to align its business with the goals in the Paris Agreement. As we now know, that legal action brought about a landmark ruling which ordered Shell to slash its emissions. Shell has said it will appeal.

The report also includes a damning list of Shell’s links to corruption and the spread of climate science disinformation – these should have raised red flags for the museum. Worryingly, many of the examples in the report cite old articles and lack crucial detail.

There is substantial research on Shell and the oil industry’s involvement in the spread of climate science disinformation, and Dr. Peter Frumhoff, Director of Science and Policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists could have been cited as well as the extensive research undertaken by Professor Naomi Oreskes and Dr Jeffrey Supran in this area.

Again, when the museum refers to Shell’s oil spills and destructive impacts in the Niger Delta, the most recent report it highlights is from 2015.

But in just the last year, there have been major court rulings against Shell both in the UK and the Netherlands over its impacts in the Niger Delta, with the company being ordered to pay damages. In the last six months, Shell has reported 51 oil spills from production activity in the Niger Delta.

So why did the museum disregard the extensive list of controversies it had compiled on climate change, corruption and environmental destruction and go ahead with the sponsorship deal? In reality, was the sponsorship deal a foregone conclusion, waved through by the Director and those at the top of the Science Museum Group?

You can view the Science Museum Group’s Due Diligence report on Shell by clicking here.

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