The Edinburgh International Science Festival will no longer accept financial support from oil and gas companies over climate change concerns
The charity that runs the Edinburgh International Science Festival has announced it will no longer accept funding from fossil fuel companies.
Activists had promised to run a series of pro-science protest actions during the 2019 festival regarding funds the charity had accepted from Exxon and Total.
In a statement the Edinburgh Science Festival said “the sector is not moving fast enough to meet the IPCC targets and that there is a conflict between their behaviour and the underlying science.”
Their new policy states they will avoid taking funds from fossil fuel companies and their primary trade bodies, the latter referring to income taken from partnerships with the Scottish Oil Club.
Science festival director Simon Gage said: “We routinely review our sponsorship policy and recently decided we will no longer seek sponsorship from fossil fuel companies.
“With climate change issues ever-present and urgent, we feel increasingly compromised by the conflict between accepting sponsorship from fossil fuel companies and programming events that scrutinise the main causes of climate change.
“The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls for a dramatic and immediate reduction in the amount of fossil fuels consumed if we’re to keep global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees.
“This calls for a step-change in the way the world uses fossil fuel and the way companies that extract them operate. Whilst we see change happening in the oil and gas sector and appreciate the demands on them are complex, we’re of the view that it’s not moving fast enough to meet IPCC targets, and that there’s a conflict between their behaviour and the underlying science.
“Climate change is an urgent threat of unprecedented magnitude. We’re committed to doing all we can to bring it to the world’s attention.”
Tara Wight, spokesperson for campaign group Science Unstained and PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Following a year of campaigning, we welcome the decision by Edinburgh Science to distance themselves from the fossil fuel industry.
“By being associated with science outreach events, fossil fuel companies aim to clean up their image and present themselves as responsible organisations that are in alignment with scientific consensus on climate change. Fossil fuel companies have known about the science of climate change for decades, yet instead of taking action they have continued to expand and intensify the extraction of fossil fuels, while funding misinformation in the media.
“Sponsoring educational and cultural organisations is a cheap and effective means of improving their public image while continuing to destroy the earth.
“The decision by Edinburgh Science to drop fossil fuel sponsorship is an important and necessary step for upholding their scientific integrity.”
The Edinburgh Science Festival faced protests for accepting sponsorship from Shell in 2018 and Science Unstained has been pressuring Edinburgh Science Festival organisers to change their policy in 2019. The group recently launched a petition and open letter, signed by scientists including Prof Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
Climate change campaigners have been calling for organisations to cut their ties with fossil fuel companies regarding their overwhelming contribution to the climate crisis.
Already in 2019 there have been protests inside the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, who hosted a BP-sponsored exhibition, and the National Museum of Scotland, who hosted a dinner for the Scottish Oil Club. The Edinburgh International Festival dropped BP sponsorship in 2017.
Elsewhere in the world, campaigner pressure has seen the the Van Gogh Museum drop Shell sponsorship and the Tate Gallery in London dropping BP. Globally over 1,000 investors have made pledges to divest from fossil fuel companies, including the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Ric Lander, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Leading Scottish organisations are cutting their ties with oil, gas and coal companies because they can see that fossil fuel extractors are exacerbating the climate crisis. We urgently need big oil to get out of the way if we’re to secure a just transition to a zero carbon Scotland. As the first Scottish cultural organisation to explicitly reject fossil fuel funding, Edinburgh Science have made a crucial contribution to Scotland’s fight for climate justice.
“Anyone concerned about climate change should take heart from the Edinburgh Science Festival’s brave stand against fossil fuel pollution.”
“Campaigners attention will naturally be drawn to the Scottish Parliament role, including the Parliament pension funds’ investments in fossil fuels, and how the forthcoming Scottish National Investment Bank could be fossil free.”