The Science Museum Group: an unravelling tragedy’, produced by the Fossil Free Science Museum Coalition, is a brand-new photo book which tells a true story about ‘energy revolution’. This is the story of a struggle between Adani, a major polluter and the Science Museum’s corporate sponsor, and those on the ground who are leading the resistance to its impacts on Indigenous communities and the climate. The book brings to life Adani’s impacts with photos and stories from frontline communities in India and Australia related to the long-running resistance, legal action and violence associated with Adani’s coal mining activities and the controversy surrounding Adani’s acquisition of land, excessive water use, pollution and threats to endangered species.
Published in March 2023, this included evidence identified in the Museum’s own disturbing 12-page due diligence report into the Adani Group - but which the Museum had never disclosed to its Trustees. The book was posted to all current and recent Trustees of the Science Museum Group on 24 March 2023.
The launch of the book - without permission - at the Science Museum’s ‘Late’
The launch of ‘The Science Museum Group: an unravelling tragedy’ took place inside the Science Museum in London - without permission - during its March ‘Late’ event on Wednesday 29th March. The unsanctioned event began directly outside the museum’s IMAX theatre as the audience arrived for the launch of another new book, one co-authored by the museum’s Science Director Roger Highfield who has previously defended the museum’s controversial stance on accepting sponsorship from fossil fuel companies.
The unsanctioned book launch then continued inside the museum’s iconic ‘Making the Modern World’ gallery and featured a line-up of powerful speakers from the fields of science, campaigns and museum education, as well as members of frontline solidarity groups. Around 100 museumgoers gathered as the shocking reality of Adani’s coal projects in Australia, Indonesia and India - as well as the Indigenous-led opposition to them - was spoken about, before chants of ‘Drop Adani now!’ echoed throughout the building.
Louisa Jones, a museum learning manager who spoke at the book launch, said:
"The Science Museum inviting Adani Green Energy to sponsor the Energy Revolution Gallery is a huge step backwards for the credibility of the cultural sector. It risks communicating to visitors that energy companies are the saviours of the climate crisis. At a time when international climate action continues to be thwarted by the fossil fuel lobby, this narrative is a disservice to public education.
It’s a disservice to the indigenous peoples in India, Indonesia and Australia whose lives, lands and cultural monuments continue to be scarred by Adani’s coal mining operations. It’s a disservice to museum professionals working to build trust and dialogue with communities, not only on climate change but also related issues such as racial justice and decolonisation."
Credit: Ron Fassbender
Amrit Wilson, another speaker at the book launch this evening and a member of South Asia Solidarity Group, said:
“The Adani Group has been exposed as the ‘biggest fraud in corporate history’. Across the central belt of India and increasingly further south, Adani is involved in the criminal destruction of the environment and of India’s biodiversity – all in the interests of mega profits from coal - mining it, transporting it and burning it in massive power stations. While Adani’s shareholders flee, and numerous respectable organisations cut off their links to Adani, it is astonishing and utterly shameful that the Science Museum is still attempting to greenwash this corporation.”
Credit: Ron Fassbender
Coinciding with the launch of the book, coalition members Culture Unstained also made public emails disclosed under Freedom of Information rules, which revealed how Science Museum Group Director Ian Blatchford has pushed negotiations with the Adani Group forward within half an hour of the incriminating “due diligence” report on Adani crossing his desk and that the museum subsequently rebranded the sponsorship as a with Adani “Green Energy” in an attempt to dodge controversy. To find out more about the investigation, click here.
The Hindenburg Research revelations, which accused Adani of “a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades”, also describes how “Adani Group companies are intricately and distinctly linked”, further undermining the Science Museum’s claim that Adani Green is a separate business. Adani has now been exposed using its so-called "green" business to help finance the Carmichael coal mine in Australia and Norway’s largest pension fund, KLP, has also dropped its entire Adani Green shareholding because of the unacceptably high risk that its investment could be used to fund coal extraction.
In a foreword to the new book, Adrian Burragubba, spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council and senior cultural custodian, writes:
“The Science Museum should be respecting the fundamental human rights of Indigenous peoples. Instead, Director Ian Blatchford has dismissed us and chosen to support Adani, a company that is destroying our land and violating our rights. Adani’s coal mine has no Free, Prior and Informed consent from Wangan and Jagalingou people. We know the damage this mine will cause to our ancestral homelands and we continue to oppose it. Adani’s corporate behaviour is in clear violation of human rights, not only of Indigenous people in Australia, but Indigenous people all around the world.”
“Energy Revolution: the Adani Green Energy Gallery” is due to open in November 2023, after the Museum’s partnership with Adani was announced in October 2021, ahead of the COP26 Climate Summit. Two trustees have already resigned from the Board over the decision to accept the sponsorship and many contributors have refused to work with the museum again until it shifts its stance. Meanwhile, representatives of Indigenous people have called on the Director to listen to their concerns and drop Adani as a sponsor; teachers and educators have threatened a boycott and young people and scientists have repeatedly spoken out and protested inside the Museum.