We urge the organisers of the festival to recognise the problem of endorsing fossil fuel extraction and stop embracing this industry as its sponsors.

The 2019 Edinburgh Science festival should be the last to be endorsed by this anti-science industry.

Let’s have a fossil free Science Festival.

Climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity, with its effects already widely felt across the world. The last four years were the warmest ever recorded, driving hurricanes in the Caribbean, wildfires in the US, heatwaves in Australia and devastating floods in Asia. At 1°C of warming, millions are already having to migrate due to changing weather patterns.

Fossil Fuels

This page is out of date since the announcement that Edinburgh Science has adopted a new policy ruling out fossil fuel sponsorship.

There is a clear scientific consensus that to avert this crisis we need an immediate and rapid decrease in greenhouse emissions, and that to do so, we need to drastically cut use of the biggest source of emissions: fossil fuels.

The vast majority of already known fossil fuel reserves need to be kept in the ground to ward off climate breakdown. Through their business plans, fossil fuel companies are denying the scientific reality.

They are still spending billions on exploring new fossil fuel reserves and pushing for new licenses. A recent assessment found that fossil fuel companies, BP and Shell, are planning for a world warmed by 3-5°C or more. At the same time, their investment into sustainable energy is miniscule.

Shell are planning to spend up to six times more on deep-sea drilling than on green energy between now and 2020. BP, having fleetingly branded themselves Beyond Petroleum, have shed their renewable energy arm and are planning to increase oil production by an average of 5% per year. Former Edinburgh Science sponsor Total have said“we will remain first and foremost an oil and gas company”.


Fossil fuel companies, including many past Edinburgh Science sponsors, have been aware about the scientific reality of climate change for decades.A paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters in 2017 analysed nearly 200 internal documents belonging to the company, and concluded that Exxon knowingly misled the public for decades about the dangers of climate change.

A Shell internal report from 1988 predicts the destruction of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet a global sea level rise of 5-6 metres, enough to drown entire low lying countries.

Fossil fuel companies, like BP and Shell, have been said to further spread false information about climate science by bankrolling climate change denying politicians and funding industry lobby groups that have denied the scientific consensus.

The science is clear. The activities of fossil fuel companies are incompatible with preventing catastrophic climate change and these companies have been actively suppressing this information for decades. It is therefore tragically hypocritical that Edinburgh Science Festival continues to provide a public platform for these companies.


Edinburgh Science says: “Our mission is to inspire, encourage and challenge people of all ages and backgrounds to explore and understand the world around them.”

This mission is entirely at odds with the activities of fossil fuel companies, which spread misinformation about the world around us and destroy the environment for people of all ages and backgrounds. Accepting fossil fuel extraction companies as sponsors of the Science Festival provides legitimacy to their image.

The ugly truth is that fossil fuel companies’ sponsorship is nothing more than just a small part of their massive PR machine, designed to legitimise their unsustainable business practices. This is greenwash. And it needs to be stopped.

The Edinburgh Science’s own ethical sponsorship policy states they will “…avoid working with companies involved in… the extraction of fossil fuels or natural resources without carrying out any mitigation of negative ecological impact that could reasonably be expected.”

The fossil fuel companies on Edinburgh Science’s list of sponsors are some of the biggest current and historic polluters, accused of several human rights violations and have a history of covering up climate science. Exxon have been named amongst the top five companies most responsible for causing climate change.

They have also promised exploration and production of new oil and gas well into the second half of the 21st century, despite world-leading climate scientists stating we need to be globally carbon neutral by 2050 at the latest. Meanwhile, investment in renewable energy remains miniscule, with many companies greenwashing their increased gas production.

It seems impossible that these companies could be considered appropriate sponsors when judged by the Edinburgh Science’s own ethical sponsorship policy.

There is nothing more reasonable than to expect our institutions to behave in a way that safeguards the future health of our planet. Fossil fuel companies act in reckless abandon of these principles, and partnerships with them in any capacity are beyond reason.

Edinburgh as a climate leader

As an international festival, Edinburgh Science represents Edinburgh to the world. Our City has a plan to drastically cut fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, aligned with Scotland’s goal to eliminate carbon emissions by the middle of the century.

All of Edinburgh’s MPs have supported calls for divestment from fossil fuels, as has the Lord Provost. The Science Festival should join this movement, support sustainable innovation for a fossil fuel free future for Edinburgh, Scotland and the world.

our call to action

We urge the organisers of the festival to recognise the problem of endorsing fossil fuel extraction and stop embracing this industry as its sponsors.

The 2019 Edinburgh Science festival should be the last to be endorsed by this anti-science industry.

Let’s have a fossil free Science Festival.

6 things you can do right now

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Sign the petition

Join our call to end fossil fuel sponsorship of the Edinburgh International Science Festival

Leave a rating on their Facebook page

Let their visitors know who sponsors them

Email the festival directors

Simon Gage, Director and CEO


Amanda Tyndall, Festival and Creative Director


Darrell Williams, Chief Operating Officer


Tweet them @EdSciFest

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