The Edinburgh Science Festival launched their 2019 programme today which shows the organisation is accepting controversial sponsorship from fossil fuel companies.
The organisers continue to accept funding from Exxon and Total, two of the 20 companies most responsible for climate change. The companies sponsor their Learning programme, formerly called ‘Generation Science’.
The sponsorship deals appear to contravene the charity’s own policy which states they won’t accept funding from companies causing unmitigated environmental damage or human rights violations. (1)
In 2018 a festival exhibition was invaded by protestors over their oil company sponsorship. (2)
Campaign group Science Unstained have set-up to pressure the festival to change and have launched a petition calling for fossil fuel sponsorship to end.
PhD student Tara Wight from Science Unstained said:
“It’s scandalous that Edinburgh Science is accepting money made from the wilful destruction of our climate. Climate science is clear that to avoid catastrophic climate change fossil fuels need to remain in the ground.
“Toxic fossil fuel companies have no place in our education and cultural institutions. We want to make sure that 2019 is the last year the festival endorses this anti-science industry.
“Edinburgh Science should follow over 100 similar institutions and publicly commit to an end to fossil fuel sponsorship.”
The programme published today reveals Exxon and Total fund the ‘Edinburgh Science: Learning’ programme. In the last 12 months the festival has also taken funding from Shell. These are three of the five largest publicly-traded oil companies. (3)
In January Total announced they had claimed a new North Sea gas field equivalent to 250 million barrels of oil. The UN IPCC report shows that the world must rapidly transition away from dependence on fossil fuels if we are to avert dangerous climate change. (4)
Campaign group Science Unstained is calling on the festival to drop Total and Exxon and sign the Oil Sponsorship Free pledge which states “We do not take any oil, coal, or gas corporate sponsorship for our cultural work. We call on our peers and institutional partners to refuse fossil fuel funding too.” (5) They hope the organisation will follow in the footsteps of the Edinburgh International Festival, which moved away from fossil fuel sponsorship in 2016. (6)
Science Unstained is supported by Global Justice Now, Friends of the Earth Scotland and the Edinburgh World Justice Festival.
Tara Wight, Science Unstained representative
0131 243 2715
Notes to editors
1. Edinburgh Science sponsorship policy: https://www.sciencefestival.co.uk/mediaLibrary/other/english/2374.pdf
2. Last year a protest took place inside the Science Festival’s ‘Ecoville’ event calling for an end to fossil fuel sponsorship. https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/12642/activists-demand-edinburgh-science-festival-cease-greenwashing-fossil-fuel-companies
3. 2018 Edinburgh International Science Festival sponsored by Shell: https://www.sciencefestival.co.uk/download-programme.php?p=8
List of companies most responsible for climate change:
4. New North Sea gas field: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-47041270
Key findings from IPCC report: https://foe.scot/press-release/ipcc-climate-report-reaction/
5. 104 festivals, galleries and cultural institutions have signed the Oil Sponsorship Free pledge: http://oilsponsorshipfree.org/
6. Edinburgh International Festival drops BP https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/apr/06/bp-ends-34-year-edinburgh-international-festival-sponsorship
7. The Edinburgh Science Festival runs from 6 – 21 April 2019. The programme is available at https://www.sciencefestival.co.uk/mediaLibrary/other/english/45071.pdf (see p.59)
8. Science Unstained is a new campaign group calling for an end to oil sponsorship of science: http://scienceunstained.scot/ / https://www.facebook.com/scienceunstained/